Social Impact Report

Young people growing up in the UK today face multiple barriers to living healthy, happy and successful lives. Their well-being is in decline, they are increasingly likely to experience a mental health disorder, and their physical health continues to be a cause for concern, with more than a third of 11-15 year olds overweight or obese.

The Outward Bound Trust provides both challenge and opportunities to young people allowing them to develop their skills and confidence in a range of contexts. These are skills which young people take with them and transfer into their everyday learning environment, their life and subsequently work Ellen Doherty, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)

Many find that, when they start looking for work, they lack the attributes that employers require and, once in employment, they do not possess the skills that enable them to adapt quickly and succeed. Those from poorer backgrounds face an even greater number of barriers, as their educational attainment continues to fall well below that of those from richer backgrounds. They are also more likely to experience mental and physical health concerns, making it harder for them to find and remain in meaningful employment.


The Outward Bound Trust tackles these issues by developing in young people the skills and behaviours that will lay the foundation for positive attitudes and behaviours throughout adolescence and into adulthood. We do this by exposing young people to new and challenging experiences in wild outdoor environments.

We work with over 25,000 young people every year to help them develop these vital attitudes, skills and behaviours.


Watch a short animation describing the impact an Outward Bound programme can have on a young person.


You can also download the journey of a young person here (pdf)

Theory of Change

Our Theory of Change sets out the four key principles that underpin how we design our courses, and the steps that lead to more empowered young people who are able to thrive in whatever they do.

Download - Theory of Change here (pdf)

Theory Of Change Image

The evidence presented in our 2017 report is drawn from our own evaluations, independent studies and testimonials from participants, parents, teachers and employers. The findings from data we have collected from participants have been externally verified.

This gives a clear indication that young people who participate in an Outward Bound course while they are in school or as an apprentice or graduate become:

    • More confident
    • More resilient
    • Able to stay calm in difficult situations
    • Better able to interact positively with others
    • Able to work more effectively to achieve their goals

Our evidence shows that these skills and behaviours are gained by young people after their course and for months and years that follow.


"The Outward Bound Trust rightly identify some of the key challenges young people face in today's world. Their solutions are time-honoured, authentic and well-grounded in research. In this educational age where academic progression is so often seen as paramount it is beyond important for programmes such as this to focus on wider human flourishing. The Outward Bound Trust clearly realises character matters."

Matt Bawden, Editor ACE eJournal Character Matters, Director of Our School Day Ltd, Assistant Head Teacher QEGS Ashbourne.

“The Outward Bound Trust gives the ability for young people to realise that what they perceive to be their limits are actually and illusory barrier. Aspiration is vital to the young as belief in their ability to achieve hasn’t yet been fully realised, the Trust provide the means to cross the bridge between what they want, and what they can do.

As an employer I find many of the young lack the confidence to try, that they are too contained within their echo chamber without sufficient exterior influences stretching their ambition. Outward bound give them the opportunity to find out that they are capable of more than they can imagine.

In their latest impact report they give a hard hitting no frills assessment of the challenges they face in helping the young to realise their potential. It also details the effect of their actions on the prospects of those who came into contact with them and maps out a future that should improve the deliverability of their ambition.”

Steve Mitchell, Publisher, Education Magazine.

“It's commonly said that the effect on young people of enabling them to challenge themselves in the natural world is 'immeasurable'; but with its Social Impact Report, the Outward Bound Trust proves otherwise, backing up our instinctive ideas about the benefits of adventurous learning experiences with robust, quantitative evidence across a range of clearly defined criteria.”

Helen Mulley, Editor, Teach Secondary Magazine

“I've always believed that getting children out of the classroom and into the great outdoors has a positive impact on their learning and development. In our fast-paced modern society, with all the distractions which technology offers young people, it's so important that they're given the time and space to switch off, disconnect their devices and focus on themselves, on their characters and on developing the resilience which they will need if they are to become productive and happy citizens. The Outward Bound Trust, with its close ties to the natural world and its belief in the power of teamwork to overcome challenges and develop this character and resilience, has clearly done much to ensure that the young people of today become those productive and happy citizens.”

Jonathan Swift, Managing Editor, Education Today magazine

“In a time when budgets are shrinking, teachers have to be able to justify their reasons for taking children outside of the classroom to learn. Therefore, it has never been more important to be able to carry out research that demonstrates all the ways in which learning outdoors can benefit young people. The Outward Bound Trust's Social Impact Report is invaluable ammunition for teachers who want to prove they can make a difference to their pupil's lives if only they get the opportunity to get them learning in a setting that's different to the classroom. The Social Impact Report is accessible, engaging, and just more evidence in the campaign to broaden pupil's horizons by getting them learning in inspiring, challenging new environments.”

Sarah Holt, Editor of School Travel Organiser Magazine and

Confident vvvvv

Young people who are more confident and who believe in themselves

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Young people who are more resilient, able to cope with stresses and persevere through setbacks

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Young people who are more focused and proactive

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Young people who are better able to work in teams and interact positively with others

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Young people who are more aware of, and connected with, the natural environment

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Lasting Impact: young people are empowered to make positive changes in their lives and thrive in their education, their training and at work

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The lasting impact of workplace behaviours

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Developing resourcefulness, resilience and responsibility at MEF

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Developing time management, organisation and responsibility at Unilever

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Summary Social  vvvvv

Social Impact Report Summary

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