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A WST Experience – The Rosedale Hewens Academy Trust visit to Rome

Thursday May 14, 2015

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About Rosedale Hewens Academy Trust

The Rosedale Hewens Academy Trust is made up of 4 secondary and 3 primary schools. Their trip to Rome in February 2015 was originally arranged with the Religious Studies syllabus in mind. However, after inviting all students across Years 10 and 11, Group Leader Michael Currie was pleased to see a good take up from students who are not studying RS.

Objectives for the trip to Rome

One of the key objectives for the trip was for the students to work as a team. In preparation for work in their future lives, Michael explained that because the students came from different schools within the Trust, most of the students did not know each other. Therefore, it was important for them to come together and settle very quickly by travelling, working, co-operating, learning, playing and even eat as a team.  It was key for the students to be curious by taking the prepared risk to view this trip as an adventure, to observe different customs and language. Michael is passionate about young people learning about the outside world and understanding Europe, it is after all, right on our doorstep.

The trip from start to finish

The planning of the trip went smoothly for Michael. His colleagues and parents found it particularly useful that he sent them regular texts and emails with interactive links with information about the trip. This contributed to two well attended, productive meetings with parents as they were able to be fully informed in order to reduce anxiety.

The trip itself went very smoothly for the group. They did have one hiccup when a suitcase didn’t arrive at the airport. However, early during the second day, upon returning from visiting St Peter’s and the Vatican, a little divine intervention somehow helped out and the suitcase was miraculously delivered to the hotel foyer! 

Highlights of the trip

We spoke to some of the students of Rosedale Hewens to report on what were their highlights of the trip. They found the Colosseum and the Vatican particularly fun, along with their group meal at the Hard Rock Café. Meal times were a great opportunity for students to sit with and get to know each other too.  In the evenings the students were content to stay in the hotel to chat and get to know each other. Michael says they mingled really well -  ‘it reminded me why it is important to be young’. 

Back at school

Back in the classroom, along with sharing lots of selfies of Mr Currie sleeping on the flight, students will contribute to a report and presentation for the Trust. Michael believes they absolutely achieved their goals of working together as a team and learning more about Europe as well as supporting the RS students studies.

Tips from the group leader

We asked Michael if he has any tips to pass on to teachers interested in taking their students to Rome. Here are his thoughts:

  • Don’t go in the summer – it’s less crowded and not too hot if you travel outside of the summer months.

  • Where possible, try not to arrange to travel during the night.

  • Decide to travel with an excellent team of teachers who are resilient to student’s behaviour outside of the protection of the school classrooms.

  • When you give out the 1st letter regarding the opportunity to partake in the trip, within the acceptance reply slip, ask the parents to verify the student’s valid passport number and expiry date. Further, ask the parents to include their working contact email address.  It will save considerable time and expense.

  • If you are the team leader, although you are accountable, it is essential to remember that you do not have all of the ideas. Always share your thoughts in advance and delegate responsibilities including being open to valid suggestions. For example, in our first parent meeting, one parent gave us a super tip for helping students to safely budget their money.  Further, plan for time to allow your team members to have their own time out away from everyone without critically compromising the health and safety of the group.

  • Take lots of spare envelopes for when you arrive at your destination. Encourage the students to financially budget on how much money they expect to spend each day depending on the itinerary. The rest of the money can be collected, recorded and stored in the hotel safe. (Where possible, do not forget to plan for shopping, the students were super keen to shop).

  • An inspection visit is essential. Apart from the study itinerary objectives, the UK Learning Outside the Classroom legislation reminds us that the health and safety of all, away from our home institution is our primary concern. From a risk assessment point of view, it proved to be helpful in planning the actual journey there, understanding the layout of the airport, hotel and surrounding area, including the city. As soon as you return, share your research with the team of teachers you may be travelling with. You may be fortunate to work with colleagues who have already visited the venue in another capacity.  Finally, the reconnaissance information gathered (including images) is very useful for sharing with parents and other stakeholders within your institution.

  • 1 month before the trip, make time to meet parents for consultation on a 1:1 basis. Some of our parents found this useful to discuss their suggestions or concerns in private.

  • Cost may prohibit a school trip from getting off the ground.  Give your students and parents plenty of notice to give them time to save up.

  • If you are part of a Trust or a large school you may have students on the trip who do not know each other. At meal times sit the students with fellow students they do not know as well, so they have the opportunity to get to know each other better.