Lee Strickland, Co-Founder of Cohort St Ives, one of our new accommodation options in Cornwall, explains how winter residentials are an underappreciated option for school groups and how her accommodation will help to make your school trip to Cornwall completely unforgettable.
Why winter residentials?
Research shows that educational trips which take place in the autumn/winter term deliver greater engagement, boost wellbeing and foster deeper relationships which the students and school then benefit from throughout the rest of the academic year.
Despite this research being widely promoted, schools are still far more likely to weight residential trips to the summer term, where benefits get lost in the summer holidays and students come back to new teachers, new classmates and a new timetable.
The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated this situation due to restrictions on school travel. However, it does look like schools will be able to restart ‘normal’ residentials in the coming autumn/winter term.
3 reasons why you shouldn’t wait ‘til the summer for your residential:
Students (and teachers!) need to get away
You’ve had a rough 18 months with much of that confined to your houses or just the local area. We need to be outside, breathing fresh air, being active and reconnecting with each other and the curriculum, away from all the screens and distractions of everyday life.
It’s cheaper and, therefore, more inclusive
We all know that the Covid-19 pandemic hit some sections of society harder than others. Areas which have seen a significant increase in unemployment are finding student resources squeezed and an increase in the number of Pupil Premium children. It’s far cheaper (sometimes by as much as 50%) to go on a residential in the winter term and, therefore, it’s far more inclusive.
The busier an area is the more stressful it is for staff. Watching 30 students on an empty beach or down a quiet street is far easier than during the busy summer where you glimpse them dodging in and out of throngs of tourists. It’s also easier to park coaches in tourist hotspots, teach outdoors, set activities and really relax in multiple areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Why choose St Ives for your winter residential?
St Ives in Cornwall is one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations. It attracts millions of visitors a year from all over the world for very good reasons.
Not only is it stunningly beautiful, it’s also the gateway to all manner of fascinating sights and activities including the Eden Project, St Michael’s Mount, Land’s End, Lizard Point, Tate St Ives and the Minack Theatre.
None of these places are any less beautiful in the winter and at a time of year when most people are dreaming of being by the ocean, schools can be doing exactly that.
Mental health benefits of being by water
Blue Health, a phrase coined by an EU research project into how being by water impacts your mental health, is vital at a time when some pupils haven’t seen the horizon in over a year.
Blue Health found that the health of the poorest in society benefit most from being near water, especially where blue spaces provide accessible opportunities for physical activity (beach volleyball, for example).
St Ives and Cornwall combine the best of learning with the best of health benefits, access to inspiring and experienced educators and unique environments as well as all-round access to blue spaces outside of formal learning times.
The area also benefits from a sub-tropical climate meaning that it has some of the warmest winters in Northern Europe. And many student guests have commented that being in St Ives at any time of year is like being abroad and, for me, the transformation of students from Day 1 to Day 3 is a joy to witness.
The same, if not more, activity options
Almost all of the activities which schools do during the summer can be done in the winter, including surfing!
Local educators aren’t as busy, making it easy to fill a 3-day trip with a packed and inspirational itinerary and restaurants are happier to take group bookings, meaning you can do that last night celebration somewhere special.
Have your accommodation to yourselves
This means workshops can take place in our spacious communal areas, movie nights can be run in the lounge, speakers can be invited in, seminars planned, team events organised and you can enjoy the safety and security of being the only guests in this award-winning accommodation.
Cohort is in the centre of St Ives, within a few minutes’ walk of anywhere you’d want to be. Other school residential centres in Cornwall don’t have the facilities of a vibrant town outside the front door and are often nestled away in the middle of nowhere.
Staying at Cohort means you have all the benefits and support of a specialist educational trip accommodation provider plus a wide variety of activities, educators and itinerary options on your doorstep.
Cohort offers everything from accommodation-only options (why not use our self-catering kitchen to set your students a ‘make dinner’ challenge?) through to full board. Facilities are top-notch with superfast WiFi throughout the building and a full-sized cinema screen in our lounge.
Bring a waterproof, a smile and a willingness to be out in the elements and we guarantee that a trip to St Ives will deliver a renewed love for learning and a fresh, vitalising start for everyone in a post-pandemic world.