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School trip ideas: How to make them exciting & educational

30th April 2018

What is the purpose of a school trip?

A school trip should have great educational value. School trips can provide a wonderful opportunity for students to gain experience and see and take part in something they are learning about in the classroom. There are obvious limitations with a classroom environment but with a school trip you can bring the lesson to life. 

The benefits of school trips include:

  • Visual awareness and enhancement of a school subject

  • Conquering challenges

  • Problem solving

  • Boosting personal and educational development

  • Developing leadership skills

  • Encouraging teamwork

  • Learning about a new culture (especially when travelling abroad)

  • Building trust

  • Aiding memory

  • Increasing self-confidence

  • Improving school performance 

  • Cultivating friendships

  • Sparking interest

When the trip is over you could hand out rewards to everyone who attended or even medals for special achievements during the trip, such as any fears conquered.

What has to go into school trip planning?

  1. Considering the cost 

It is vital that you carefully work out the cost of the entire school trip - from transport to the cost of entry into the attraction. 

For many schools, trips can only happen using financial contributions from parents. The school has to state that any financial contributions are voluntary, however without full payment from all parents a school trip will often not be able to go ahead. You need to make this clear to parents well in advance of the school trip with reminders until you get 100% of the ‘voluntary’ contributions.

  1. Contingency plans

With the unpredictable British weather, a contingency plan is wise to avoid any plans being rained off.  Not only are some activities not possible in rain or snow, but sometimes travel to the venue might be unwise in adverse weather conditions.

Back up plans can include postponing the trip, an alternative venue or instructing children to dress appropriately, such as in waterproofs, wellies and thermals.

  1. Preparing the children

Your school trip planning should include preparing the children for their experience. School projects are fun, introducing the children to a certain topic that the school trip will help enhance. You could hold a competition for the best school trip projects and reward the winning students.

This will also give the children added confidence when on the school trip, as they see their research come to life and they can utilise what they know. It will also help them understand what they are looking at in some circumstances, such as museum exhibits, art or ancient ruins. This will help them get so much more out of their school trip.  

  1. Prepare the parents

As part of your school trip planning, it is crucial that you give the parents all the details of the trip and why you have chosen the activity or trip away. The parents have to give their consent for their child to go, and they will likely be making a financial contribution so you need to convince the parents that the trip is safe and worthwhile.

You will need to ask the parents for:

  • Permission slips

  • Medical information for their child

  • Travel sickness information

  • A final deadline for payment

Confirm any allergies and dietary requirements that the school already holds about the child.

What are the risks on a school trip?

It is imperative that you consider all the potential risks on a school trip to keep the students safe. 

  • Risk assessments

You need to complete any risk assessment forms that apply and hand them to the school office. Some school trip venues will offer you their own risk assessment.

  • Liasing with the trip venue

Make sure that you keep up a line of communication with the school trip venue. Some venues have a dedicated member of staff to support schools. Many website offer virtual tours but you should arrange a visit to inspect the venue and get your bearings before bringing the class.  Also check their website and read through all reviews and tips. 

The venue will probably have material and handouts that will aid your school trip and lessons on the runup to the school trip.

  • Access for disability

The SEN and Disability Act 2001 extended the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) to cover education. This means that schools have to cater for students with disabilities on school trips. Ensuring there is adequate access, facilities, transport and an assistant has to be part of your planning if you are taking a student with disabilities.

If you have a student in a wheelchair beware that many venues will say they have ‘disabled access’ just because they have a portable ramp! This can still mean lifting a wheelchair up tall flights of stairs, no space in the public bathrooms for a wheelchair or certain areas of the venue which are accessible and some which are not.

  • Adult to student ratio

The ratio of adult to student will vary regarding the type of activity and the age of the students so you need to check the Local Education Agency (LEA) guidelines.

You may need to ask some parent volunteers to join the trip to make up numbers.

What do you need to bring on a school trip?

  • Food and water

Most school trips need the parents to provide a suitable packed lunch with a water bottle so provide detailed instructions for the parents, highlighting all the rules, such as no nuts or chocolate. Also specify what bag they should put their child’s lunch in, whether a carrier bag to throw everything away at the end, or a rucksack so they are hands-free.

  • Appropriate clothing

The details provided to the parents need to explain exactly what clothes and shoes their child should wear or bring on the trip. You should also specify whether they need to bring spending money or suncream.

  • School lanyards

Personalised school lanyards are a great way of identifying students to keep them safe with , whilst also helping to identify teachers and the first aider in a crowd. 

  • Clean-up equipment 

You never know what might happen on a school trip so pack wet wipes, disposable gloves, plastic bags, tissues and paper towels.

  • First aid kit

Within your school trip planning make sure that each student has brought the right medication if they need it. 

In addition to this, you will need:

  • Anti-bacterial wipes or  hand gel

Finally, you might like your students to have a keepsake of to remember the school trip by. This could be printing out a group photo for everyone to take home or making something on your return to the classroom. Some venues give the children a free pen or badge. 

Alternatively, if you have had a trip abroad you might like to purchase flag pin badges for the students to wear. Perhaps the union jack when they are on the school trip to help identify the group, or a flag of the country visited to commemorate their visit when they return?