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School Trips Life

There is always a certain amount of risk involved in trips to far-fl ung destinations

creating an experience of awe and wonderment at what they are seeing, “ he explains. “When you are rambling over a 30-metre- high glacier, crisscrossed with crevasses and you can hear glacial melt water dripping in the silence, it is a genuinely magical experience. I had one boy who had seemed bored as we visited geysers, waterfalls and ice fi elds, but he cried the night he stared up at the Northern Lights, it was so magnifi cent. It’s a new type of education. The traditional education comes later, when you are back in the classroom.” Sue Banwell, Head of Religious Studies at Kings’ School, Winchester agrees. She has taken a group of 17 year-olds on Acorn’s trip to India which in addition to visiting the Taj Mahal and other cultural sites, also included trekking in the foothills of the Himalayas, taking overnight trains and visiting rural village schools to meet local children. “My big teenagers were handing out stuff ed

dinosaurs to tiny children who had nothing. I can’t tell you how much of an eff ect it has had on the pupils. We saw the real India through the eyes of our local guide. People would welcome us into their homes and give us cups of tea. The children have experienced a completely diff erent culture and embraced it. A year later, they are still saying how amazing the trip was.” However, it was not without its dangers. The

group white water rafted down the Ganges and in a “survival night” had to barter for their food and camp out. “Yes, there were risks,” says Su Banwell, who is trained in outdoor education and also takes children canoeing in the Ardèche in France. “Any school would be concerned, but we only use a company who are fully experienced, with good local knowledge. Acorn invite us to come out and inspect the

trip so we can run a thorough risk assessment, which is hugely reassuring for parents. “Safety is paramount, but you have to be prepared to take risks. Life is about taking risks and we only learn and develop if we take risks. And if you have assessed the risk, you are prepared if things go wrong.” Briefi ng parents so they can

understand the dangers on a trip is crucial, as Anne Bergin found, when her 16-year-old daughter Emma went on a World Challenge trip to Peru to work in a remote village. “We were warned about everything that might happen and had happened on other trips in the past, from illnesses to accidents. “World Challenge explained

how team leaders carry satellite phones and have procedures for evacuating children swiftly. We were even told to pack a riding hat, so if she collapsed on the trek to Machu Picchu, they

Wildebeest migration across the African plains

would still be able to get her down the mountain on a packhorse!” But trips don’t have to be adventurous to be

enriching. Some companies, like Equity School Travel, off er wide-ranging experiences from politics in Washington DC, where students can visit the White House, Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court, to business and

“Edward came

back bursting with new phrases and he’d even tried snails, too!”

economics trips to China, visiting the Beijing Enamel Factory and a steel plant in Shanghai. In Normandy, Château de la Baudonnière

off ers students a language experience. For a week, pupils are immersed in French, carrying out activities like escalade (climbing) and parcours de santé (obstacle courses) and being instructed only in French. “It starts as soon as they get off the coach,” says Colette Dobbs, head of modern foreign languages at Sedbergh School in Cumbria. “The staff are native speakers and all meals and activities are carried out in French. The children know if they want something, they have to ask for it in French!” “Edward came back bursting with new phrases and he’d even tried snails!”, says his mother, Imogen Jamieson.

For more information Anglia Tours or fully guided history and

battlefi eld tours

Discover The World: specialists on Iceland, they provide tailor made educational travel particularly in geography, science, tourism and photography

World Challenge provides educational expeditions in the developing world

Acorn Venture provides adventure and educational school trips to all corners of the globe

Equity School Travel provides an innovative and varied subject and destination programme all over the world.

Château de la Baudonnière off ers week-long French language programmes

The School Travel Forum (STF) is a not- for-profi t organisation that promotes good practice and safety in school travel www.

Autumn 2011 FirstEleven 69

Oundle pupils on an adventure training sub aqua trip to the Red Sea, Egypt

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