How a study trip helped to fulfil our school’s objectives

30 August 2016

For teachers, arranging a school trip can be a very daunting experience. The truth is, an educational tour is one of the greatest ways for students to fully immerse themselves in a subject and a particular culture. The benefits of this, and the positive influences it has not just on learning but everyday life, make arranging a trip completely worth it.

We followed one teacher’s journey as they planned and experienced their first ever school trip, providing a motivating and inspirational insight into exactly how a study tour can help a school - and its teachers - fulfil their objectives.

Rhyddings Business and Enterprise School, located in Oswaldtwistle, is a mixed, child-centric school. They decided to take their Year 10s on a trip to London to “broaden their horizons, enrich their experience of life and relate the work they do at school to the big world, and throw in a bit of social learning as well.”

What followed was an amazing, stimulating and exciting trip to the UK’s capital that did exactly that. The rest is explained by the trip leader.

London: bringing a profound togetherness

I’d have loved to have taken the kids abroad for the adventure, but there was something significant about that year – the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics; London has never looked prettier. The entire world was watching! This appealed to my sense of occasion, context, history and memories; I hoped it would create a profound bond between them (and us as teachers) and that they would have the time of their lives, as well as remember it forever.

How WST aided the trip

I was weighing up how to put such a trip together when Nici from WST called. I explained how things are with us financially and asked if she could put something together that the families of students could cope with. WST worked with us in devising a schedule where we could pay in instalments.  

How the timing of the trip helped to enhance their studies

Just before our trip ran, the Geography department ran its field trip to Amsterdam for a few days. Visits like this always fall in the time after Year 11 leave because no one likes abandoning their GCSE groups in such a vital year. Booking a trip during the holidays means they don’t miss out on learning, in fact, they experience even more.

How travel helped with their social learning

We travelled by coach to London, which could have been an exhausting experience. However, it was made easy thanks to our coach driver.

Phil, the driver, advised us and made suggestions for the smoothest running of our schedule. He liked the kids and they liked him, which is always important on a school trip!The students were really happy to clean and look after their coach because they were “helping Phil”. They even made up a song for him on the way home, “Hey there, Delilah” became “Hey there, Phil the driver.” Sweet.

How exploring London fitted in with our all-encompassing goal

Before our trip, we introduced our students to Banksy’s work, and showed them YouTube videos of the graffiti street tours. We called it “art isn’t always in a gallery”. We told the students we would explore a range of fine art genres to whet their appetite. After this, we let the pupils tell us what the next part of the journey would be, which was exploring that sometimes art is in a gallery. Then we presented a range of images currently in the Saatchi Gallery and Tate Britain.

We didn’t tell the students that they might explore these pieces of art in real life a week later; we wanted them to suddenly recognise things and have “light-bulb” moments, which they did - impressing the guides on the street art tour. It had the desired effect in the galleries too! These moments ranked amongst the highlights of the trip for me – connecting the dots meant that we were achieving the aims we set.

During the gallery visits, our students talked, questioned and explored various techniques, such as Derain’s colourful Cézanne and Nash’s Totes Meer. The whole school initiative was to develop ‘questioning’, which would help us to become an Outstanding school; this trip enabled us to grow this and encourage the students to think for themselves.

How the little things enriched their experiences and united the students

For one of the nights, we visited Planet Hollywood. Our school appeared on the TV screens in the restaurant, accompanied by a welcome scroll. When the students saw this, they cheered and sang along to One Direction’s ‘What Makes You Beautiful’. This went on to be classed as the song of the trip. Overall, what we saw on the trip was excellent - although some would have loved to see more Banksy! Now back to school…

Since the trip

They are still asking me to take them back – another, longer trip – their bond is so sound and strong. Their increased knowledge is truly enriched by what we did in partnership with WST. Our work has been so enhanced in school by this visit. They’re still talking about it two months later as if was last week.

How the trip, and remembering the trip, created a profound bond

After our trip, we bought the students some London canvases in a summer sale and wrapped them up. On the last day of term, we gave each one a laminated image montage of everyone and their adventures to the capital.

We ate cake, drank pop, watched a presentation of our pictures from the trip which featured ‘their song’ and told our tales of what we did.

The students opened their pictures up and spent some time writing messages to each other on the backs of them (like our school leavers often do) and we invited the head teacher to join us.

We wanted them to remember it forever.