Planning an overseas school trip

An interview with The School Travel Company

When considering a school trip abroad, what factors should schools take into account when choosing a location?

Schools trips can be organised to many different locations around the world. However you have to take into account how easily accessible these places are and how much the overall cost of the trip will cost due to this. Many schools that we have worked with over the past 30+ years tend to travel to popular destinations within Europe. These include the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Poland. The School Travel Company also offers trips to destinations further afield including India, China and the USA.

When choosing a location, transport methods also need to be considered. Coach and channel crossing are the most popular method of transportation for a school trip as this tends to keep the price down (if the group is made up of 40 students or more) but flights certainly can be a quicker and more direct method of transport.

The seasons and weather can also be a factor to consider. In the winter seasons, some key visits or museums can either be shut or have shorter opening hours which can affect the overall itinerary of a school trip.

What subjects can The School Travel Company cover on a school trip abroad? Can multiple subjects be covered?

We cover most subjects that are taught on the curriculum here in the UK. As we are a tailored made company, we are able to adapt and create bespoke and inspirational itineraries for schools. Many schools when travelling overseas will take students that are studying different subjects within schools. Some remain all together as a group visiting popular visits in each destination that cover each of the subjects. Others will be split up taking only students to certain visits depending on the subject they are studying. For example, in Paris, Art Students may visit The Louvre, Science students may visit Cité des Sciences and Textiles student visiting the Palais Galliera fashion museum before they all meet up at the end of the day in time for another visit as a whole group or dinner at the accommodation.

There are always going to be language barriers on school trips abroad, how do The School Travel Company help schools with this?

Here at The School Travel Company, we have staff members who are fluent in French, German, Polish, Spanish and Italian so when we are booking aspects of your trip including accommodation, visits and transport, there is clear communication between ourselves and the supplier. We can provide final confirmation documents in multiple languages in the group's final confirmation pack as well as sending to suppliers so again, communication is clear. However many of the suppliers we use overseas have worked in the travel industry for many years and have dealt with thousands of international tourists and their English seems to get better and better!

If you had to pick one country that offered the most educational benefits for a school trip, where would you pick and for what reasons?

France is certainly our most popular destination for school groups. This is because so many subject areas within the school curriculum can be covered within this destination. These subjects include French Language, Art, Science, History, Maths, Food Technology, Textiles, Religious Studies and Geography, depending on which area of France you visit. Popular destinations with schools groups that we offer include Paris, Opal Coast, Normandy, Somme Battlefields, Lille (Christmas Markets) Lourdes, Strasbourg, Futuroscope and the French Alps.

We all know that school trips take a lot of careful planning but how much of the planning process do The School Travel Company cover?

We make the process of planning a school trip as easy as possible. We take the stress out of planning a school trip by putting together a bespoke itinerary to suit the needs of the schools. We can suggest suitable accommodation options, transport methods, visits and meal choices. We can help and provide examples of launch letters to parents, presentations to use at parents' evenings and other documentation that help you when planning a school trip. You shall have a dedicated tour organiser who shall be your main point of contact from the start of the planning process right up until you return from your trip which makes planning a school trip much easier. We also offer the best value so schools and teachers shouldn't need to shop around to find the best deal.

As well as overseas school trips, there is also a lot to offer for schools looking to stay in the UK. What are you most popular UK destinations for Educational School Visits?

London is by far the most popular destination for schools trips if staying within the UK. London is a multi-curricular destination where there are visits for students of all ages which cover most of the major subjects taught in schools today. This is a popular destination, especially for primary school groups who wish to stay in the UK as they get to visit a big city, some for the first time. Popular visits to the capital include visits to the free museums (Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Tate Modern to name a few), London Eye, Thames River Cruises and a West End show.

Also popular destinations within the UK include York, Edinburgh and Stratford. All of these trips can be made subject specific or we can include a range of different visits and activities to cover multiple subjects and culture.

Safety is a big concern on school trips, what measures are put in place to ensure the safety of pupils on a school trips?

Naturally we take our group's safety very seriously. All transport, accommodation and visits are audited to the requirements of the School Travel Forum (STF), of which we are an assured member. This should provide all the information that your local authority require.

In addition, we are pleased to confirm we that we hold the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge, a government-approved scheme that shows that we offer high-quality and safe teaching and learning experiences. Most Local Authorities recognise this scheme and have agreed that if a provider has the Quality Badge, schools need not to further risk assess – it's all been done for you!

What would I do if there were an emergency while I am away with my group?

We offer a 24 hour helpline, for your piece of mind. Our staff follow clear guidelines to ensure a fast and efficient response to your call.