The Outward Bound Trust: Social Impact Report 2017


Not everything that matters can be measured and not everything that is measured matters

This famous saying always comes to mind when I think about the work of The Outward Bound Trust, our social impact and our ability to measure and demonstrate the value of our work to the outside world.

For some, a belief that powerful adventurous experiences go on to produce real learning of use in everyday life is simply a matter of faith. It follows as night follows day and it does not need the appliance of science to make the case.

To them, Outward Bound Trust is about alchemy, magic and art. For others, a rigorous evidence base of quantitative and qualitative data along with longitudinal research is necessary before such experiences can be recognised as effective. Until you can hold it in your hand and measure it very precisely, it must be suspect.

At The Outward Bound Trust we firmly believe that the truth lies somewhere in the middle – where science meets art. This is our fourth Social Impact Report and we are proud of both the way we have developed our evaluation techniques over the last decade and the story that they tell about the positive impact of an Outward Bound experience on the lives of young people.

There is a huge amount in this report that “proves” the value of the work we do. We also know that nothing contained in this report ever quite matches the look on the face of a youngster on top of a mountain who has just realised that there is far more in her than she had ever previously imagined. It is when one puts the two together that Outward Bound really makes sense.

Executive Summary


The Outward Bound Trust provides courses for young people to develop their social and emotional skills at every stage of their education from the end of primary school through to university, and during the early stages of employment. The skills that they develop are those that will play a pivotal role in how successfully they navigate the challenges of adolescence and early adulthood: helping them to flourish and thrive in many different ways throughout their lives.

This is The Trust’s fourth Social Impact Report in which we demonstrate the various ways that Outward Bound courses help to reverse the decline in young people’s well-being; improve their engagement and performance in learning; and bridge the widening gap between the academic skills pupils develop at school and the broader set of skills that are needed for employment.

Read the whole report here!: