Adventure learning research on character development and attainment

EEF Adventure Learning Trial

Schools taking part in EEF research

In Autumn 2019, 2,328 Year 9 students from 97 secondary schools (24 pupils per group) across England are taking part in a ground-breaking trial to assess the impact of an adventure learning experience on character development and attainment.

The research programme will be led by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and independently evaluated by a team of researchers from Sheffield Hallam University (SHU).

The Outward Bound Trust and Commando Joe's have been specially selected as the delivery partners for this research trial.

How will the trial work?

97 schools have been randomised into three groups and will take part in either:

  • an Outward Bound adventure: the participants take part in a five-day residential course.
  • a Commando Joe's adventure: the participants take part in a five-day in-school adventure learning course.
  • the control group: the participants do not take part in an adventure course and instead receive £1,500 for development of pupils.

Trial timeline


Research trial registration opened.

END OF 2018

Schools recruited to take part in the trial.


Baseline measures are taken for pupil self-regulation, pupil school engagement and behaviour. Schools randomly selected into three groups and informed of which group they are in.


Pre-intervention work with schools (pre-course preparation and planning).


Outward Bound and Commando Joe’s courses take place.


Measures are taken for self-regulation and school engagement.


Measures are taken for self-regulation, school engagement, behaviour and attainment. Telephone interviews and/or school case studies


Students sit their GCSEs.

The project team
Education Endowment Foundation

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) was founded in 2011 by The Sutton Trust, as lead charity in partnership with Impetus-PEF, with a £125m grant from the Department for Education.

The EEF is an independent charity which aims to raise the attainment of 3-18 year-olds, particularly those facing disadvantage; develop their essential life skills; and prepare young people for the world of work and further study.

It does this by generating evidence of what works to improve teaching and learning, funding robust trials of high-potential programmes and approaches which have yet to be tested. The EEF then supports schools, nurseries and colleges across the country in using evidence so that it has the maximum possible benefit for young people.

The Outward Bound Trust

The Outward Bound Trust is an educational charity with a mission to stop self-doubt, remove limitations - whether real or perceived, and end the fear of failure in young people. We help teach young people the most important lesson they could ever learn: to believe in themselves. It’s the super power that transforms their behaviour throughout school, higher education, work, and beyond.

Commando Joes

Commando Joe’s is one of the UK’s leading educational providers, utilising the expertise of former services personnel to improve the educational outcomes for pupils through using the core values associated with military ethos such as self-discipline, confidence and teamwork. Our school programmes are well established and allow young people to develop life skills, character traits, attributes and behaviours, which have a positive impact on their educational attainment, engagement, employability and well-being.

Independent Evaluator: Sheffield Hallam University

The independent researchers at Sheffield Hallam University have a strong combination of research and practical experience that is relevant to this evaluation, including experience in large scale mixed-methods evaluations as well as secondary school teaching and youth work.

Keep up to date

Fill in the form below to receive email updates on the EEF Adventure Learning Trial and other relevant news from Outward Bound.