Does red tape and legislation mean the end of the school trip?
There are some students who learn better from practical application, and the traditional classroom setting is not always the right environment. Research has shown that students are more engaged when learning outside the classroom and also benefit from a social and cultural education at the same time.
School trips to museums or places of cultural interest can provide that much needed stimulus and enable students to engage fully in the subject matter, and overseas trips offer an invaluable immersion in other cultures and languages.
But despite all the benefits, organising a school trip for your class can be difficult, especially a residential trip, due to the increasingly amount of administration involved. So what do you need to be aware of? And what school trip friendly destinations are available and at what cost?
To help you plan and give you some inspiration, Beth Gardner, Chief Executive for the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom and Ian Finlay the Managing Director of the Education Division at TUI Travel PLC will be joining us for a live WebTV show. They will be answering your questions and offering their advice on the benefits of school trips and how to get the most out of them for your students, their top destinations, and what help is available for teachers who want to take students out of the classroom but are struggling to navigate all the regulations.
Beth Gardner and Ian Finlay join us live online at www.studiotalk.tv on Monday 29th November at 13:00 to discuss the value of school trips
For more information visit www.tuieducation.com
H: Jayne Constantinis, host
A: Elaine Skates, Deputy Chief Executive for Learning Outside the Classroom
B: Ian Findley, director of education, Tui
H: Most teachers would agree that school trips are a valuable and essential part of the curriculum, so why are they so difficult to organise? Don’t worry, help is at hand
H: Hello and welcome to the Education Show, I’m Jayne Constantinis. Now new research released today has found that 9 out of 10 teachers in the UK say they’d get involved in more school trips if the process of organising them was easier. As the vast majority of teachers believe that Learning Outside the Classroom brings subjects to life for children, why is planning a trip such a minefield? Well joining me to offer their help and advice for teachers are Elaine Skates who’s the Deputy Chief Executive for Learning Outside the Classroom, and Ian Findley, director or education at Tui. Welcome to you both, thank you for joining me. And coming up on the show today – getting your trip off the ground, where to go and when and all of your questions answered live. So if you have any questions or comments for our guests please use the box on your screen. Tell us your name please as well and if you’re on Twitter and want to get involved, use the hash tag Studio talk. So let’s begin by thinking about this – this very tricky issue for teachers that they refer to, and it’s the bureaucracy, the red tape, health and safety, risk assessment – is it putting teachers off?
A: Well I think this research commissioned by the Tui Education division today does show that it is putting teachers off. I think teachers perceive that health and safety and red tape are quite a significant barrier to them in taking children outside the classroom
H: But is the perception real, because you know the phrase “Health & Safety gone mad” is – we see it in the papers all the time, but is that actually the reality?
B: Well I think there certainly is paperwork, documentation and we wouldn’t expect anything different, you know risk assessment, health and safety are vitally important and teachers and parents need to make sure that their children are safe and that teachers are choosing a reputable provider, so I don’t think it’s going mad at all, I think it’s the provider’s responsibility to actually make sure they can work with schools and with teachers to actually assist in the process and help fill out the risk assessment documentation, help provide the health and safety information, so that the teachers are actually still willing to book trips, and the other key thing that came out of the research this morning is that overwhelmingly teachers do still want to go on school trips
H: But the figure that’s come out is 87% of teachers say that there is so much bureaucracy, you know that they’re almost being put off – are we seeing the decline of the school trip, will there soon be a time when children aren’t getting out of the classroom?
A: Well no, I don’t think so because this survey also says that 99% of teachers say that children are more animated and engaged when Learning Outside the Classroom, so teachers do understand the benefits, and I think the benefits far outweigh the perceived – perceived barriers of getting children outside the classroom. Teachers can and do find a way to overcome these barriers and support is available
H: I mean I understand there’s a Learning Outside the Classroom manifesto, tell us a little bit about that
A: Absolutely, well the manifesto was launched back in 2006 and now it has over 2500 signatories, and they are people who, like us, believe that every child should have the opportunity to get outside the classroom, as an essential part of learning and development, whatever their age, ability and personal circumstances. So we want to see more opportunities to learn outside the classroom for every child, including those from under-privileged backgrounds and with special educational needs who stand to benefit the most from these inspiring experiences
H: Money obviously is a big issue, we’ll come on – we’ll discuss that in some detail in a minute, but let’s just talk for a second about where teachers can get some very practical help if they want to organise a school trip
B: Yes I think teachers can get very good help from the Learning Outside the Classroom website which details an enormous amount of different guidelines and different support, or information for them. Equally from our website, Tui education website, we have a lot of information there that will help teachers planning and booking a trip to make sure that children do get the most out of their trips and teachers’ time which is very valuable, isn’t weighed down to prevent them actually getting the most out of the trip
A: Yes and there’s a very practical thing that teachers can do, if they look for the Learning Outside the Classroom quality badge when they’re booking the trip, they will know that the providers and the venues where they’re taking the children provide good quality educational experiences and manage risks effectively. So it will take a lot of the anxiety out of organising the school trip for teachers, and it will also practically help them to reduce red tape when they’re planning those visits
H: Ok so let’s say they’ve got over all of those issues. What about communicating with the parents, because you know from the perspective of parents, when the letter comes home and I see that my little girl’s going off to whatever it is, I think oh that’s nice, and some people might even think oh and that’s nice for the teacher too – maybe not going down the road, but some of the slightly more exotic trips
A: Absolutely and I think teachers are worried about asking parents for contribution to the cost of the trips, so I think at schools, if they explain the reasons why they’re taking the children outside the classroom to the parents, and try and involve the parents in the process by inviting them to meetings at school, I’m sure that Tui education puts those tight procedures in place, so that the parents feel involved, and their questions are answered and it takes the anxiety out of the school trip for the parents
B: Absolutely, all of the businesses within the Tui education division will hold parents’ evenings so that parents can ask the questions that I think in terms of us helping schools, communicating with the parents, I think we can provide links through to the National Curriculum so that parents can actually see where their child will benefit from the trip. I think teachers understand and know the benefits that comes from school travel, but we should help them to communicate that to parents as well
H: Because of course some parents will not have been on a school trip themselves, I never went on a residential trip so they may not have experienced it. Those who have sort of take it for granted. And of course as well it’s probably important to talk about each child as an individual because some parents may be anxious that their particular child is not going to benefit
A: Yes absolutely, but I think the children who are perhaps the least self-confident whose parents are the most concerned about them going, are actually the ones who might come back from that trip a different child, because they’ll have blossomed in terms of their self-confidence and their relationships with their peers and their relationships with teachers during that visit.
H: Thank you for the moment. Coming up next, top destinations, both UK and abroad
H: Well if you’ve just joined us we’re talking about how teachers can get help and support to organise school trips. So let’s get down to some specifics now – Ian tell us about some of the most popular destinations and why they are
B: Yes well in the UK we have a number of different residential activity centres, so outdoor pursuit centres, through our JCA brand, and those are incredibly popular, particularly with the primary age children, so year 6 children, year 5 children, and those are all around the country where they go and they will do soft adventure activities, so abseiling, climbing, archery, fencing – those type of activities that you see children really blossom and develop and it might not be the most academic or sporty in school but can still really benefit and develop. Outside of the UK on our overseas trips, the most popular for educational purposes are trips to Paris and to Rome and to Florence for modern languages, for art, for history. We have a Chateau in Normandy which is fantastic for history and the study of the World War II landing beaches, but increasingly actually we’re seeing a lot more far flung destinations coming in, so schools are now starting to travel to Beijing or to Morocco or to Reykjavik, linking them through at all points with the National Curriculum.
H: So now you’ve mentioned Beijing, let’s talk about costs because it can be a huge factor can’t it and the letter comes home, you see how much it’s going to cost, your heart sinks, but of course little Freddy’s – all his friends are going. What do you do? How difficult is that for parents?
A: Well I think it can be quite challenging for some parents in some circumstances to find the funding. The benefits are enormous so we would like to see even the most under-privileged children being able to access these school trips. I think some schools do provide bursaries to enable children from poorer homes to go on school trips, as well as more affluent pupils, so I think that’s a good thing to do and something that can help fund the cost of visits for parents who just can’t afford it
H: And what are you doing Ian as a provider to help offer more cost effective solutions? Because you know these are truly cash-strapped times for many people aren’t they?
B: Absolutely and we will work very closely with the schools to ensure that the trips are booked a long period in advance, which enables a payment plan to be put in place so the parents can stagger payment over a period of 12 months or 18 months for these long haul destinations if that’s what they’re looking at. We also, within JCA for example, we provide a significant discount of 25% to any child that’s on income – or whose parents are on income support – so that we can be as inclusive as possible, because really we see that the benefits of travel as such that actually we want everybody to be able to experience it, whether it’s a local trip to the museum or it is a trip to Beijing
H: And presumably the schools are getting good deals with you because of economies of scale as well?
B: Absolutely and one of the advantages that schools have in booking with us through the education division, we have a number of different brands, so actually they can get some scale discounts just by booking their educational tours with us, but also their ski trip with us, their expedition with us, their residential activity trip with us. They can get real benefit of placing all of their bookings through us, rather than just going out and having to find individual providers, and of course that frees up teacher’s time as well
A: And I think another thing that teachers can do to help with the cost issue in planning Learning Outside the Classroom is to complement the more expensive trips to overseas destinations with low cost activities closer to home, Learning Outside the Classroom can happen in the school grounds or local community space, it doesn’t need to involve very much financial outlay at all on behalf of the school or the parents
H: And as we all know children are so fickle that they might well enjoy the trip down the local park as much as the trip to Beijing might they, that you’ve spent thousands on and scrimped and saved for!
A: Yes well I think they both have their own benefits and actually what we say is Learning Outside the Classroom works best when it’s continuous, frequent and progressive. So it does include the opportunities for learning in the school grounds and local community as well as the opportunities to learn further afield, and a combination of those two things is how Learning Outside the Classroom works the best
H: Great, thanks very much. Coming up next, all of your questions answered live
H: Great so we’ve had quite a few questions come in so let’s get straight on with them. Here’s one from Clare who says “do you think TV and films increasingly showing more exotic locations is putting pressure on parents and schools to go further afield? Do you think, what’s your view from what you see in your bookings?
B: Well yes I mean we are seeing an increase in further flung destinations in long haul destinations, although I’m not sure that TV and films is the drive of that particularly. I think people are recognising that the cultural and social benefits from travel as well, so a trip to China as an example, a trip to Morocco will provide cultural and social benefits that really develop children and young people in a way that a trip to France – they’ll get a different educational benefit but not the same social and cultural experience
H: And of course it’s not just films and televisions as you say it’s that people generally travel more than they used to
H: So it’s possible that they’re going on far flung destinations with their family as well isn’t it? Paul has raised a very specific question here which I’m sure you can answer Elaine – “from an H & S perspective is there a ratio of supervisors to children which we need to think about when planning a trip?”
A: well yes there is and that can depend on the age of the child as well as the type of activity. There’s extremely good, free guidance available on the Learning Outside the Classroom website and teachers will be able to find out the requirements for the various types of considerations that they need to plan for
H: What’s your website address?
A: It’s www.lotc.org.uk
H: lotc.org.uk thanks very much for that. Now Sylvia has asked a questions as well - are there any national guidelines to advise what age children should be taken on trips abroad? This is a very interesting one isn’t it because of course we’ve been talking about different types of children, so how do you gauge across a whole classroom?
A: I think you need to take each class on its own merit, but we are starting to hear of more instances of very young children being taken on residentials and getting enormous benefit from that
H: Abroad or in the UK?
A: I don’t know of any abroad but I definitely do know of adventurous activities examples in the UK of residential with extremely young children
H: What sort of age?
A: Year 1 and 2
H: Oh ok
A: And it’s unusual but it’s certainly growing and those – the benefits of it are extremely good, and in those cases the teachers work very, very closely with the children – sorry the teachers work very closely with the parents because obviously the younger your child the more assurance you’re probably going to want about how your child is going to be cared for during the visit
H: Yes. My daughter’s in year 1 she hasn’t even been on a sleepover yet, that’s quite ambitious isn’t it? Interesting. Let’s look at Gemma’s very specific question – Ian I think this is one for you – she teachers key stage one and is based in the North West where some of the parents don’t have a lot of spare income for trips. Do you have any ideas or suggestions for destinations closer to home? So North West
B: Well certainly in terms of day trips, local museums, you know the North West has got fantastic facilities, and Liverpool and Manchester for day trips, but as Elaine would say a great Learning Outside the Classroom experience doesn’t need to be to a museum, it can be actually taking the class out into the field and having a class in the school playing fields. On a more residential basis there are a lot of very good activity centres in and around the North West and she’d have no problem in finding those and for that age – actually it doesn’t need to be a week, most centres would do a one night or a two night residential, and that will certainly bring the cost at a level that’s affordable as well
H: Excellent, thanks very much. Now we‘re nearly out of time but tell me what your memory is of a school trip you went on when you were a child?
A: Well I can remember when I was 8 going to a local historic house, Hordenby House. I remember it really vividly, it was where Charles I was imprisoned when he – during the time of the civil war – and I decided I wanted to be a Cavalier because I wanted the feathers and the –
H: Oh yes
A: Glitzy outfit
H: Much better outfits
A: Than the boring Roundheads and I love history to this day and I can trace it back to that visit
H: Fantastic. What about you Ian?
B: Actually I had a very similar experience as well although mine was in the Isle of Wight and we went as a primary school, we went to Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight where Charles I was also imprisoned and I ended up doing a history degree so you know something obviously stuck there as well
H: My goodness. Mine was Malham Cove, I don’t think Charles I was ever imprisoned there but anyway. It’s been really fascinating, thank you both very much for coming in to talk to us. Thank you, I hope you found it interesting too. For more information go to Tuieducation.com. Bye for now