Year 6 tends to be characterised by SATs and the looming transition from primary to secondary school. It is a time of mixed emotions and heightened stress levels for children, which can impact on their mental health.
The statistics bear this out:
- 1 in 10 school pupils (5-16 years) suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder
- Half of all mental illnesses start by the age of 14
- Almost 1 in 4 children and young people show some evidence of mental ill health (including anxiety and depression)
The anticipation of starting a new school can impact on mental health many months before they make the transition. In a study carried out by the University of Bath, levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, were measured in children who were starting primary school. It found that their cortisol levels were already high several months before starting the new term, indicating that the children seemed to be responding to the anticipation of starting school long before the actual event.
As one of the largest providers of residential school trips, we at YHA believe building resilience through outdoor adventure is key to helping young people effectively deal with adversity and change in both year 6 and beyond.
A winter term residential at the start of year 6 has the added benefit of providing year-long benefits – helping children develop resilience and coping mechanisms to deal with the mental health challenges they may face and instilling a passion for learning. Importantly, a winter residential school trip can deliver significant cost savings.
98% of teachers who participated in a YHA residential school trip report that their pupils are more confident communicators as a result of their trip. A growth in confidence has powerful long-term benefits that help prepare young people for later life. Teachers also report improvements in young people’s engagement with learning during our residentials.
In a report by the English Outdoor Council it was recognised that high-quality residentials can significantly increase ‘psychological resilience immediately following an outdoor adventure based residential’ and that ‘residential experiences can promote personal growth as these include the extent to which students feel in control, act independently and are able to solve problems’.
Being near water, in trees, fresh air, natural light and taking exercise, are all proven to help mental and physical health and wellbeing. Doing and learning in these environments brings even more purpose, impact and long-term benefits.
Research by the campaigning group Learning Away has found that residentials improve students’ engagement with learning, including positive changes in behaviour and attendance. 72% of primary school pupils who attended a residential believed their behaviour was subsequently better in school.
Learning Away is behind the #BrilliantResidentials campaign actively supported by YHA. The campaign encourages schools to provide more residential experiences for children and young people of all ages and from all backgrounds
Anita Kerwin-Nye, Director of Strategy and Engagement YHA (England & Wales) explained: “As a youth charity with nearly 90 years’ experience of working with young people, we know that the experiences they have through travel can have a directly positive effect on their future; and independent research supports this.
“We know that residential school trips help young people achieve more academically at school, increases their attendance record and enhances their relationship with their peers which is why we are committed to delivering outstanding experiences and full support Learning Away’s #BrilliantResidentials campaign.”
To help make residentials more affordable and accessible for schools, YHA offers reduced prices for residential trips taken between November and February (inclusive) at the majority of its 84 Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC)-accredited sites, more than any other residential provider.
Find out more about YHA’s winter residentials.