When a Primary 2 class went on a trip to a London museum, the pupils came across a mummy exhibit. The display had a sign in front saying “2982 BC.” Johnny curiously asked his friend, “What do you think that means?” Susan thought for a few seconds and then concluded, “It must be the license plate number of the car that knocked him down.”
There used to be old saying that ‘travel is education,’ and no one can doubt how much we learn from seeing how things are done in new places. Everything from language, music, customs, traditions, games and of course foods give us a sense of wonder and helps us to situate ourselves and appreciate our own culture.
When planning a school trip, there are many factors that need to be considered for such a big undertaking. Some parent involvement maybe through the school parent committee in planning or aboard the actual trip can be useful to increase the adult numbers and offer varying talents.
It is important to consider what the organisers hope to achieve in going to the bother of planning and executing a school trip. What are the key benefits for the students? How can their learning and the experience they gain be of value to their study course?
In preparation for the trip, assignments may be set to encourage learning and knowledge. This is especially true if the trip is abroad.
There is much gain in researching one’s destination and becoming acquainted with language, local customs, traditions and attractions of historical or geographical significance.
For the duration of the trip, an interested or appointed student could keep a record through pictures and word with view to presenting this in the School Magazine or to deliver a general talk at a later date. There are always fun-facts and new information gathered on the journey that make it not only memorable but educationally enlightening.
Rules and Regulations
The movement of any group of people, particularly when young and enthusiastic to, from and around an unknown location requires strict and prior explained and agreed codes of conduct. Aside the basic personal health hand safety considerations, travelers are ambassadors for their community, their school and even their country.
Away from the school setting, students may think that they have permission to exercise more freedom when out of uniform and in ‘holiday’ mode. But the trip is first and foremost an extension of the school and bad behaviour cannot be tolerated under any circumstance. Proper and meaningful disciplinary procedures should be put in place to ensure the welfare of everyone on the trip.
Setting realistic sanctions even to the point of ‘sending a pupil home’ has to be on the table at the outset so that participants know the seriousness of what they are signing up to.
Finding the right company to provide for your school trip requires some research. As with anything one purchases, it is not always the best option to go for the lowest rates that are offered. Other schools in your area or those that you know may have already taken a trip that was booked through a company that you are considering. Shared information can be valuable in coming to a decision as to what is best for your group.
While schools generally like to retain control and have their own input into the itineraries and organization, some companies may offer to plan the entire tour for schools right down to the organising of airport transport, coach hire abroad, accommodation, events and activities. There is something to be said for having a conversation to see how a tailor-made solution could be created between the traveling party and the provider. Remember that a reputable company with a decent reference will always know the lie of the land better than you, particularly if it is ‘first-time trip’ to a specific location that you have in mind.
Some companies will show proof of credibility by indicating that they have a badge of accreditation as a recognized travel operator satisfying the Dept of Education Advice and Guidelines.
Some schools may wish to use locally and respected coach companies to transport student to the airport and back or even to another area within the same country or even overseas. These may well already be contributing to school life by transporting students to school or sports teams to various venues, so a relationship of trust has already been established.
Communication with parents
The communication line begins right at the very start. Right from the initial concept being discussed through to the coach pulling up with many happy students after a terrific trip (all being well) it is essential to keep everyone in the loop. With mobile phones now being the most commonly used communication tool today, this device allows for instant messages to be received with updates at any chosen time. Aside from the whole and more fuller benefits of having the intuitive Edtap app, the trip-leader is able to
Advertise the trip
Deliver documentation such as insurance forms and itineraries, schedules etc
Enable real time communication with those on the trip such as reminders of gatherings and assembly points, safety issues and information meetings
Enable updates and communication with parents back home at each stage of the trip.
Having such a platform to reach out to parents, groups or individuals from the device in your pocket if and when you wish gives confidence to the organizer, reassurance to parents at home and the fall back of live updates to students and participants on the trip.
What this comes down to is that from the hotel foyer to the front seat of the coach, the trip leader or administrator can deliver any important information to parents such as schedule changes, delays, weather gear requirements or re-arrangements. They can also be kept up to date with the most recent details on situations that can arise from time to time. This can be good and bad news ranging from successes and achievements to incidents, accidents or health scares.
With the outbreak of Covid 19, and its rapid spread across Europe from a presence in northern Italy, in March 2020, several school ski-trips became deeply concerned about how to respond.
It is likely that as the news began to break of pupils being stranded as a result of the virus, dozens of concerned parents and guardians were scrambling to get as much information as possible. Any quality and effective parental communication that the school has in place system can be used to calm minds in what can become a very stressful time.
While travel is indeed education, no one wants to be ‘cut off’ from home contact and when accurate information is provided from the leader, it instills confidence back home and means that everyone hears the facts and not some incorrect or exaggerated version of events.
And of course, with such quality communication, his parents need not worry or wonder why their little Johnny is visiting the remains of a road accident victim somewhere in London!