The Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres (AHOEC) have recently reviewed and approved the criteria for their Gold Standard provider accreditation, taking into consideration the overwhelming evidence from Learning Away about what makes a high-quality residential experience.

The AHOEC Gold Standard was set up in 2009 and assesses the quality standards for outdoor education. It is a standalone, quality audit, inspection and development process for outdoor education centres and organisations. 49 organisations across the UK currently hold the Gold Standard which is achieved by completing a self-evaluation process, followed by an external inspection with assessment based criteria such as: customer care; safety management, policy, organising and planning; and environmental sustainability.

The assessment process requires a 360 degree inspection by accredited external experts in all areas of outdoor education organisation, management and delivery, including but not purely focussed on health and safety.  It also shares good practice from other quality organisations and offers mentoring from Gold Standard Quality Badge holders. Organisations who achieve AHOEC Gold Standard are automatically awarded with the Adventuremark and LOtC Mark.

Chair of AHEOC, Louise Edwards commented:

“The AHOEC Gold Standard involves a continuous professional development opportunity for managers and their teams to evaluate and improve the work of the organisation and create a sense of achievement and pride.  Now organisations can be assured that the Gold Standard includes the latest evidence from Learning Away about what makes a high-quality Brilliant Residential.”

Chair of the Learning Away Consortium, Joe Lynch commented:

“Our vision is for more children and young people from all backgrounds to enjoy Brilliant Residentials and the life changing opportunities they offer. AHOEC Gold standard incorporating the principles of Brilliant Residentials is a significant step forward for this as we are influencing the practices of providers of residentials nation-wide.”

Through the Learning Away programme a clear picture of what makes a high-quality residential learning experience has been developed, and Learning Away have coined the phrase ‘Brilliant Residentials’ to describe these experiences. Brilliant Residentials are school trips with at least one overnight stay, which are:

  • Fully Integrated with the school curriculum and ethos
  • Designed and led by teachers and, where appropriate, students
  • Inclusive and affordable for all students
  • Deliberately and collaboratively planned to meet students’ specific learning needs,
  • Planned so that learning is embedded and reinforced back in school
  • Part of a progressive programme of experiences
  • Designed to include a wide range of new and memorable experiences
  • Designed to allow space for students to develop collaborative relationships with both peers and staff
  • Evaluated rigorously
  • Supported by senior leadership and school governors

Gold Standard holders are re-inspected every two years and have to demonstrate continuous improvement across all aspects of their business.

For more information on AHOEC Gold Standard click here or contact Doug Jones on

For more information about what makes a Brilliant Residential watch our short introductory film here.


Join the #BrilliantResidentials campaign


You can make your pledge to work with others to provide more and higher quality residentials here.


Share your stories and photographs of high-quality residentials on facebook and on twitter, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #BrilliantResidentials

Campaign Pack

Wherever you are, you can use the tools in the campaign pack which can be downloaded here to put Brilliant Residentials on the map.

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