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As part of the big `Learning Away` campaign for #brilliant residentials, sixty schools have been asked what makes a brilliant residential? Over 35 years, Acorn has been working closely with teachers to ensure we are always delivering #brilliantresidentials and we get some amazing feedback every year. Here’s how we deliver on what these sixty schools tell us makes a #brilliantresidential:
1.Fully integrated with the school curriculum and ethos
Teachers regularly tell us that our trips exceed expectations when it comes to enhancing the school curriculum and their objectives of the trip, which are closely aligned with the school curriculum and ethos. Some of these have included: confidence building, team-building, end of year reward, outdoor activities experience, fun (together to enhance relationships and improve pupil/teacher interaction in the classroom).
2.Designed and led by teachers, and where appropriate, students.
There are many small trips that schools can do in-house and we think it’s great for teacher and students to do this. Where we come in is to help teachers and students seeking a specialist trip, with qualified instructors delivering activities and experiences that can’t be done by teachers and students. Booking with us also comes with the benefit of our transport expertise- we have a long list of excellent coach suppliers that all conform to stringent STF audit guidelines. With so much choice on offer, teachers and students are still very much leading the process when they book with us and our trips are often adapted to meet school and student objectives.
3.Inclusive and affordable for students
Why do many teachers choose Acorn initially? Because our prices are amazing and very competitive, especially when you consider the content rich programmes on offer. Why do they return? Because we are such good value. It’s not just about the very affordable prices, but about what we deliver. And we often exceed expectations and therefore see a huge number of teachers returning year after year.
4.Deliberately and collaboratively planned to meet students’ specific learning needs, and to embed and reinforce learning back into the school
Teachers often choose our adventure residentials because they recognise the remarkable benefits of learning outside the classroom and particularly adventurous activities. The confidence that students gain from pushing themselves outside their comfort zones, whether it be camping in the outdoors for the first time or jumping off the leap of faith tower. Perhaps they are afraid of water and finally conquer this by enjoying an amazing kayaking session on a lake with their friends? Once students realise they can achieve beyond their own expectations, they apply this to learning at school. A once anxious student afraid to fail can suddenly do so much more, just because they now believe they can. Every student gains something from an adventure residential. Acorn’s owner saw this for himself in the 1980’s when he was a teacher and took his own pupils on camping trips to Wales. He said that “the difference these trips made, particularly to some students lacking in confidence, was incredible. And one of the main advantages was the way we all interacted together in the classroom after the trip. These benefits are not always measurable, but any teacher who has taken their children on one of these trips, will do it time and time again. Because it really does make a difference. And in so many ways. This is why I set up Acorn Adventure all those years ago”.
5.Part of a progressive programme of experiences
We are a big believer in the adventure journey. Adventure should start as early as possible, perhaps at an Forest nursery. It then progresses from a day, to a night to 2 nights to 4 and all the way up to 9 days further afield. Acorn offers this journey through its range of destinations, durations and accommodation options. From a 2 night stay camping in the woods to a 4 night stay in either Wales or Northern France, all the way up to a 9 day adventure in the Ardeche, South of France. We are working with some MATs at the moment to assist them with creating an adventure journey and our programmes fit perfectly with schools trying to create this for their students.
6.Designed to include a wide range of new and memorable experiences
The Acorn experience includes sleeping under the stars, sharing a tented village with friends and teachers, enjoying a huge range of outdoor experiences in real environments whether it is lighting a fire in the wood or white water rafting in Italy. Acorn offers a huge range of new and memorable experiences. And as we have said, they are designed to suit different age groups at different times, depending where pupils are on their adventure journey.
7.Designed to allow space for students to develop collaborative relationships with both peers and staff
The beauty of the Acorn experience is the accommodation environment that we offer which is unique. Every school gets their own private living space. What we call a `tented village`. Each `village` has its own marquee for dining and socialising. The very nature of this environment brings school groups together. Just the other day a student told us that he preferred the Acorn accommodation to dorms because he didn’t just hang out inside with his dorm group. The village set up encouraged the whole group to socialise with each other, outdoors, so he made more friends. He got to know more people, ate dinner with his teachers, with our staff. The experience was about so much more than doing activities. Our whole ethos founded on the notion of peers and staff developing relationships that transfer back into the classroom setting. It’s the reason why Acorn was established in the first place.
8.Supported by senior leadership and school governors
Acorn has been running trips for schools for over 35 years and is fully accredited by all of the key accreditors in the school adventure travel industry including AALS (UK), LOtC Quality Badge, Adventure Mark, STF, RYA and the BCU. We are fully bonded by ABTA and ATOL for financial security. And we have built up an excellent reputation for quality residentials and safety. Thousands of students enjoy Adventure residentials with Acorn every year and so we are well supported by senior leadership teams and school governors all over the country and beyond into Europe.
Make your pledge today for more #Brilliantresidentials