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FEATURE FOCUS: SCHOOL TRIPS


to be able to walk to all the main sights? Do you want to be close to the beach? Do you want somewhere with a games room and swimming pool? It’s also important to get a good balance of


educational and leisurely visits. Look out for places that are free to enter (often museums and galleries are free for under 18s) for a more cost- effective trip. And whilst you’ll want to do as much as


possible, don’t underestimate the importance of free time. You’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet; even sitting on a coach can be draining. So to prevent your students (and you) from flagging, throw in a theme park or some time at the beach. Even just a few hours relaxing at the hotel if you’ve got the space. And if you have the option to include a


specialist guide, go for it. They bring so much more than you think. It doesn’t mean they know more than you, but they’re more familiar with the specific details of the area you’re visiting. Hayley Humphries, Head of Humanities at


usual routine is broken and the structure’s slightly different – can bring a new dimension to your relationship. You don’t necessarily want them seeing you in your pyjamas, but you’re trusting them to act responsibly as they walk around a busy market on their own or explore the ruins of an archaeological site; and they respond to that trust. It’s scary, but it’s worth it. There’s almost a feeling that the rules don’t


apply (no uniform, no lesson plan), only they do. They, as students, are just being treated more like adults.


‘Fantastic to see our students mixing across the year groups, both musically and socially, and an extremely enjoyable experience for everyone alike without exception.’


Stuart Bates, Parmiter’s School, Music Trip to Belgium


It’s a cliché, but these really are once-in-a- lifetime experiences The words ‘unforgettable’ and ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ are often thrown around when we talk about travel, but there’s a reason why. These days we take travel for granted and sometimes forget that not everyone’s ventured out of their home town. Some children have never been on a plane before, let alone stood in front of the Eiffel Tower. So when they get the chance to trek up Etna, visit the Berlin Wall or simply try paella for the first time, it really is unforgettable. Something that’s always stayed with me is


meeting a Holocaust survivor. It was on a school history trip to a cemetery in the Midlands, where an elderly woman stood up on stage and spoke to a room of 13-year-olds about her time as a Jew living in Nazi Germany. Whilst I don’t remember everything she said, I’ll


never forget her presence; the silence in the room as she told her story. Right there and then, I felt privileged to have sat before someone who’s lived through one of history’s most hellish times. Because even as a child, I felt the enormity of the fact that there are only a few remaining survivors – and I got to meet one. 12 years later, I went to Auschwitz, and thought back to that moment.


January 2020 www.education-today.co.uk 39


‘As a Welsh School, the visit to the Welsh Memorial and Mametz Wood was the best moment of our tour. Being able to walk in the footsteps of our 'own' soldiers was very thought provoking.’


Reg White, Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi, Battlefields Trip to Belgium


How do you get the best value for money on a school trip? Teachers are time-poor. Fact. Amongst all the lesson planning, marking and actual teaching, you’re lucky if you get half an hour to yourself. And even then you’re holding little Kirsty back for Snapchatting in class. So teachers often opt for a tour operator to do the hard work for them, whilst others are happy to DIY it. Either way, you want to get the best value for money, and a lot of it is about getting the fundamentals right. Once you’ve decided where you’re going, your


accommodation can make a massive difference to your trip. Whether you’re after a quiet, tucked- away cabin in the heart of the great outdoors, or a big hostel with lots of facilities smack bang in the middle of the city, it’s all about getting it right for your group and the type of trip. Do you want


Brighton Hill Community School, took two history tour guides with her on her school’s battlefields trip to Belgium, and advises other teachers to follow suit: ‘We might be able to talk about the Battle of the Somme, but there’s no way we would be able to point out the tree line where the tanks came over, or exactly where the gas attack took place. Definitely take a guide.’ They’re not just going to churn out some


generic spiel. A good guide will do their research on your group, tailor their teaching to your students and often help with the logistics. Essentially, they become an extension of your teaching team. Finally, don’t limit yourself to taking just one


subject group. If you want to take multiple subjects out or you’re struggling to make up the numbers, a cross-curricular trip is a great way to add some extra value. Whilst the language students head to a local market, the business studies students can go behind the scenes of a car manufacturer. You’ll meet back up for meals and leisurely visits, but still get that dedicated time to your subject. And after all the planning, promoting,


organising and confirming; after all the hours you’ve spent arranging everything, you’ll see it’s totally worth it. Because, like teaching, it’s hard work but it’s life-changing.


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