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A WST Experience – St Aloysius College History Department

Wednesday March 4, 2015

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St Aloysius College is a Boys Catholic Comprehensive School in inner London.  The History department follows Edexcel Modern World syllabus at GCSE and OCR for A-Level. Annual trips are a regular and important part of the studies in the department. Group Leader Geraldine Rimmer organises two trips in the academic year; a visit to the WW1 Battlefields for Year 9’s and an additional trip which is open to all years covering a variety of study topics from the syllabus. In recent years they have covered New York, Washington and Berlin. 

Here are some of Geraldine’s observations, highlights and pearls of wisdom from her extensive travelling:

WW1 Battlefields

The students in Year 9 have already studied the First World War before they travel and Geraldine believes this trip is vital for the students to connect with the past. She says for students today the War was such a long time ago and young people don’t always ‘get it’. This visit really helps to bring the events to life and enables students to develop an understanding from a personal point of view. Before they travel students begin to learn about past pupils of the school who were involved in the war and when they visit they lay wreaths at Tyne Cot and Thiepval in remembrance of them. As Geraldine says ‘they begin to think of the war as individual stories and not just names’.

Berlin

The St Aloysius trip to Berlin last year focussed around life in Nazi Germany including visits to Sachsenhausen, House of the Wannsee Conference and the Olympic Stadium. When we asked Geraldine what the highlight of the trip was she said it was definitely the Resistance Museum. As she says, you cover a lot of ‘doom and gloom’ when visiting Sachsenhausen and Wannsee but the Resistance Museum gave the students a very positive message to help them understand that some people did resist the Nazi regime.

USA

St Aloysius students have visited both New York and Washington in recent years covering American History. Geraldine believes the absolute highlight of these trips was a visit to Gettysburg National Park. Just like the WW1 Battlefields visit, their time in Gettysburg really brought the story of the Civil War to life.

In additional to obvious educational benefits, Geraldine is a real advocate for school trips, believing that travel is important to develop students’ independence and responsibilities whilst engaging their interest and having fun. Her itineraries are always jam packed to ensure the students broaden their experiences and see different cultures. One thing she is particularly proud of is her students’ behaviour on the trips – she’s even received letters from fellow guests at their hotel in Washington to say how well behaved the St Aloysius students were during their stay.

We asked Geraldine a couple of questions about practicalities of school trips:

How do you generate interest in the trips?

As soon as each trip returns  she puts up big displays in the school to show what they did on the trip and also shares the information online. Because the trips run on a regular basis students are ready and waiting for the launch of the next one.   

Why do you use a Tour Operator?

“Carole Burrows at WST is very supportive, gives lots of good advice and we have a very positive working relationship. She knows what I want.”

Top 3 tips for someone thinking of taking a trip for the first time?

1.Think about the ages of your students and plan in advance what you want to cover. Be clear with your Tour Operator what you want to do but be open to their ideas and advice.

2. Get some good guide books to read beforehand. Throughout the trip the students will always look to you for various bits of information.

3. ENJOY!