The 3 P's of school trips, Plan, Present and Prepare
Molly Chapman from STA Travel talks us through the stages of planning a overseas school trip and how they can help you through the process of Planning, Presenting and Preparing.
Hello Molly! When a teacher first looks into planning a school trip what type of things should they be considering? Are they better to start with the learning objectives or the destination?
"There is a lot that goes into planning a school trip, that’s why we are prepared to do the ‘heavy-lifting’ when it comes to creating the perfect trip aligned with your curriculum objectives. There are a few things that teachers will first need to consider on their own before sending an enquiry through to us:
- Duration of the trip
- Dates of the trip
- Funded/ non-funded trip
- Promoting the trip
- Backing from senior team
- How long you have to plan
- Curriculum objectives of the trip
- Possible destinations
Once our Travel Experts have all of the relevant information, they’ll be able to bring together a picture of how the trip might run. Paramount to everything is that the trip objectives are realised as a priority. Once the above has been discussed, our Travel Experts will deliver destination options.
How far in advance would you advise schools to begin planning their overseas trip?
"The further in advance the better! That gives students time to think about what they want to learn from the trip, teachers the opportunity to carefully consider the final details and parents the opportunity to save for the occasion!
However, flight prices aren’t released until 11.5 months before departure. That means if you have planned your trip, your flights won’t be confirmed until at least 11.5 months before departure. So, if you are booking well in advance, you should be aware that pricing might change.
How important are the day to day itineraries such as excursions, and how do you work with teachers to make sure this aspect of their trip fits in with their expected learning outcomes?
"These are the most memorable part of the trips for students, as this is where students are getting hands on with learning & applying their learning. Missing out on activities on an educational trip is a wasted opportunity for your students.
We work with teachers from the very beginning to ensure that their learning objectives are realised every step of the way. We will always ensure that our activities are age appropriate, subject appropriate and have the relevant health & safety audits in place to ensure students are covered from a duty of care perspective.
We try to venture outside of the box when proposing activity suggestions to our teachers. We don’t want students to have the same trip experience every year, we boast student experiences that push their learning. Some of our favourite activities are:
- Salsa lessons in Barcelona (Improving Spanish skills)
- Tuk Tuk rides in Thailand (Just plain fun)
- Pizza making & tasting session (Good for digestion)
- Silicon Valley guided tour & presentations (For the entrepreneurs)
- Dublin story telling session (For those studying English)
Once a teacher has decided upon their overseas trip with you, what do you offer them by way of information to present to parents?
"We have a specialist on the road team of educational development executives. They’re dotted all around the country, meaning one is never too far away! This team are on hand to meet with you, discuss your requirements and deliver presentations to students and parents. This is peace of mind in a person! This team are based regionally and frequently visit schools to deliver briefings on trips.
Your EDE will be taking care of you post trip too, meeting to discuss your trip, how we can make your next journey even better, and where you’re off to next.
Risk assessment documents are circulated so teachers and parents can be sure of the duty of care STA Travel Education supply to every school trip, this is also all accessible online – because who isn’t digital these days!
We’ll work with our partner schools to create permission slips, so it’s easy to track parent permission & payments.
We supply all group leaders with a pre-departure pack that details emergency contact details and a detailed itinerary, if parents should want a copy we are more than happy to supply this.
We often send out post trip questionnaires where we ask students about their learning from the trip. We can share the findings of these with parents so they can see the value of educational trips.
We can supply destination guides upon request, that gives teachers, students and parents the opportunity to do some reading up before they embark on the trip. We have a 24/7 Global Travel Helpline that parents can ring through to in case of an emergency. We also have a fully integrated social media team and we welcome parents to follow us so they can see any pictures from the students’ trip.
Do you have any advice on what steps should schools be take to prepare for their trip once the date has been arranged?
"Promotion: we suggest promoting the trip as soon as possible, STA Travel Education can help with this by providing schools with poster templates Getting permission & financial commitment from parents: this will secure numbers and make sure the pricing doesn’t change per student Plan: Our Travel Experts will work very closely with you to ensure that all of your objectives are met. However, if you have some outcomes you wish to achieve, we suggest you start making a list to be sure that you don’t miss anything off your trip Fundraising: If some students are struggling to produce the funds for the trip then this is the perfect time to begin fundraising for the occasion.
Do schools need to sort out travel insurance and transport to the airport or can you assist with that too?
"We are a self-confessed one stop shop. That means that group travel insurance can be handled for the whole group, by you & your dedicated Travel Expert. In addition to this, transfers and transport can be handled by your Travel Expert. In fact, we strongly suggest that these are booked through STA Travel Education. That means should you have an issue with one part of the booking the whole booking is covered and there is no miscommunication between third parties. We recommend purchasing a group travel insurance policy at booking stage, that means any issues between booking and return are all covered.
In the final couple of months before the school trip, what are some of the final things you would advise schools to double check and make sure they have ready for the trip?
- Numbers & names: any changes will need to be communicated to your dedicated Travel Experts. No shows may incur extra charges & late name changes will cost extra.
- Pick up/ drop off locations: it’s common for these to change, but the impact of this not being communicated can be disastrous. Any changes should be flagged as a soon as possible with your travel expert
- Timings & communication: check all students & staff travelling are aware of the timings
- Travel insurance: if a group travel policy hasn’t yet been taken out with STA Travel Education, closer to departure is a great time to do this
- Visa application: ask your travel expert for advice on this topic, or do your own research. Failure to properly research visa requirements could see you and your group being turned away
- Passports with validity: often countries will need at least 6 months of passport validity for entry. Check with your students and travelling teachers that this is the case
- All permission has been granted: school children will need permission from their legal guardian to leave the country. While this has probably already been granted, it is a good opportunity to double check this
In the weeks leading up to the trip, students and teachers alike will be excited and eager to set off to their destination. What happens if there are any last minute changes and how do you support schools?
"Last minutes changes and issues are very normal and become more common place when the group gets bigger. It is very important that these are flagged immediately to your dedicated Travel Experts so amends can be made. If these aren’t flagged it is possible changes won’t be made, or they will be very expensive.
Finally, if you could give teachers one bit of advice about booking a school trip with STA Travel what would it be and why?
"Be adventurous! We are known as the adventure experts and that doesn’t stop at educational groups. Where other suppliers shy away from adventure, we run towards it with open arms! We dare to take educational groups where other suppliers might not dare to go.
If you are interested in hearing a bit more about how STA can help you with planning, presenting and preparation for your next overseas school group tour then why not get in touch here.
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