Advice and Tips on School Trip Planning

Independent Executive is a monthly magazine that works with heads and bursars at independent schools across the UK. For their article about school trips they asked us to answer a few questions about the benefits of careful planning, health and safety aspects, and common mistakes that teachers make. Here are our responses.

What benefits can a well-planned school trip bring to pupils and staff?

For teachers, the way to make a school trip successful is to have clear objectives for the subject areas you want the trip to cover, and for the type of knowledge you want your pupils to bring back to the classroom. These objectives may not become clear until you begin your research. Having looked for trip ideas, and having spoken to education coordinators at a shortlist of potential venues, you should be able to establish exactly what you can get from the trip, and how it can support your classroom based learning. At PlanMySchoolTrip, one tip we would give is to make sure you arrange your trip far enough ahead of time. Leaving your school trip planning until the last minute means you will not have enough time to prepare your pupils with classroom work that will allow them to get the most out of the visit.

What would the perfect school trip look like?

Every trip is unique and will have different goals and outcomes. We have spoken to schools that have been on fantastic environmental field work trips, where pupils have taken part in quantitative research of natural processes. Other schools enthuse about planetariums where pupils and teachers are given in-depth tours and lectures relating to physics and technology, without any hands on learning. A perfect trip is one that allows pupils to gain a deeper understanding of a subject, in a way that is not possible in traditional classroom environment.

Any tips for a school leader unsure of where to start?

At PlanMySchoolTrip we always recommend that teachers or party leaders first decide exactly what they hope to gain from the school trip. We then ask them to tell us what is important to them, for example, maximum travel distance, the dates they can visit, how many pupils and teachers they plan to bring. With this information we can help find a handful of venues able to meet the learning goals of the teacher by delivering a safe, inspiring and most importantly educational school trip.

What health and safety risks must they consider?

If your school has an Education Visits Coordinator (EVC) they are best placed to liaise with your Local Authority's Outdoor Education Advisor regarding health and safety best practice. The government published DfE departmental advice in February 2014 relating to health and safety when taking pupils on trips, and is aimed at local authorities, governing bodies, head teachers and staff.

Any common mistakes a school leader should avoid?

One mistake we think a lot of schools make is sticking with the same trip year in year out. Of course there are lots of fantastic venues that are well worth repeat visits, but all too often schools will re-visit the same venue simply because that is where they have always gone. In our experience, school trip providers are constantly changing their offering, and there are lots of exciting opportunities out there for school groups. If you are not researching what is available every year, chances are you are not getting the best value or learning experience from your trip.

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