Orrell Newfold Primary School are based on the North West of England. They annually take their Year 6 students on a trip to create more memories before they leave for high school. We spoke to Doug Pitts, who this year chose to take his Year 6 students to Edinburgh this year for a post SATS celebration.
Why did you choose to visit Edinburgh?
We had previously visited London for our Year 6 trip, but unfortunately had to cancel due to the terror attacks last year. We spoke to WST about alternatives for this year’s trip and we thought Edinburgh would be a fantastic experience for our young people. Many of our children had never been to Scotland so it was a great opportunity for them to experience the culture and tradition of a great Scottish City.
What were your study objectives for the trip?
We have two objectives when selecting our Year 6 trip. As we are an Arts Mark Gold School, we like to provide performing arts opportunities for our pupils and the Playhouse in Edinburgh delivered that as the musical, Wicked, was touring there. Once again, many of our pupils had never seen a professional musical and were blown away by it! Secondly, we use the trip purely as an enrichment activity so that the pupils can take away further fantastic memories from their time at our school.
Did you do anything specific to generate interest amongst the students?
We announced the trip with a meeting for students and parents outlining the itinerary of the trip and explaining how the trip would run so that both parents and pupils were reassured about the experience. Just before the trip we did watch The Wizard of Oz so pupils had an understanding of the performance of Wicked the musical.
What were the highlights of the trip for the students?
Pupils obviously enjoyed watching Wicked as it was the first time, for many, that they had seen a professional performance like that. They also really enjoyed our visit to the Edinburgh Dungeons! We were assured by WST that it was age appropriate for our children and we couldn’t have agreed more! Our pupils loved it!
What were the highlights of the trip for the teachers?
Shopping!!! Seriously, it was possibly the evening meal at Pizza Express. As we had pre-ordered all our food, the staff there were fantastic and sorted everything for us! We had our own area and it allowed us to sit down and relax after a busy day.
How did WST support you in planning the trip?
We have booked trips with other companies in the past but WST were, by far, the most professional and organised. You can tell they clearly understand what it is like to be a teacher organising a trip for sixty pupils and reassure you on every step of the way and use their experience to think of the things you didn’t!
They provided templates for everything, such as coach forms, rooming arrangements etc. which made it less time consuming to fill in. Before departure they provided use with a detailed itinerary so that we could share it with parents so they knew what experiences their children were getting up to and when!
The final pack that arrived was superb! It had all the booking forms in that we have previously had to print off ourselves, rooming lists and even a few selfie sticks so we could get some great pictures of our experience.
Did you find the Vamoos app useful?
All the staff downloaded and used the Vamoos app and found it really useful. It has all the documents you need for the trip and the map feature was fantastic: highlighting the specific places of our activities so not even staff could get lost!!
Would you take your students to Edinburgh again?
Edinburgh was a fantastic experience for our young people and a much more relaxed alternative to London. We would certainly return there for our Year 6 trip in the future.
Do you have any tips for teachers of thinking of taking a school trip for the first time?
Don’t worry! Obviously there is a lot of concern from teaching staff when planning and organising schools trips these days with regards to safeguarding our pupils. We understand it can be daunting for some but strongly feel it is really important that our young people get to have these experiences and as long as you have the procedures and protocols in place it is certainly something that we would recommend.
Do you have any top tips for visiting Edinburgh specifically?
Toilets! We were fortunate that our coach had a toilet and encouraged our children to go before we left it behind for the day. However, Edinburgh is not blessed with an array of public toilets so it did take us a while to find suitable ones when needed. We found that Princes Street Gardens, which is very central in between the Royal Mile and Princes Street shopping, were a great place to stop! Our pupils loved to watch the street entertainers on the Royal Mile too so it’s certainly a place to head to for some entertainment!
Find out more about what you could do on an educational trip to Edinburgh