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Primary School Trips: Teacher Survival Guide

September 24, 2018

You’ve walked miles in the rain, the traffic is stand-still, and all you have to make the day better is a plain cheese sandwich and a Capri Sun. But, at least the kids are having fun, right?

Whether you’re just going on a day-trip to a site down the road, or you’re going further afield on a residential away for a week, there are always guidelines to adhere to. We know it can get complicated (the guidelines and the children), which is why we’ve put together a survival guide to help you teach your way through any of your upcoming school trips!

Is the trip worth it?

It’s always good to have a break away from school, and the students always love a trip outside the classroom. But, to get to that stage, you have to make sure the trip adds educational value to the students.

Does the trip you’re planning hold an educational benefit to the children? If so, then you’re off to a good start. Researching the trip and creating a proposal on how it will benefit the children will stand you in good stead when approaching your headteacher or head-of-department to get the go-ahead for your trip.

Budgets are tight!

There’s no escaping the budget cuts or the tightness of school purse-strings at the minute, so it’s always best to spend time carefully calculating the costs of your trip. Things you need to take into consideration are…

  • Transport
  • Venue entry
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Spending money (will pupils be able to afford it?)

Some venues and attractions (museums) offer free educational visits for schools, so it’s worth double-checking with the venue beforehand. If your trip involves accommodation or extended travel, many companies offer school packages and group discounts.

It is always a good idea to speak to your headteacher (or whoever is in charge of school costs) to see if there is any scope for using the school budget. For large-scale trips, parents and guardians will understand if they have to contribute to the costs. There is always opportunity for finding local sponsors, donations, and even running fundraising events. Getting in contact with your local authority will help to give you knowledge of what funding is available to your school.

What are the risks?

You’ve heard of a risk assessment, right? Of course you have! Well, be prepared to risk-assess absolutely everything. Risk assessments are one of the biggest parts to organising a school visit, so make sure you have your risk assessment forms all filled out.

Attractions and places that attract a lot of school attention usually already have their own risk assessments complete, which gives you one less job to do!

You can always contact the place you intend on visiting to liaise about any requirements you may have or to arrange a visit beforehand to inspect the venue. Many places now have virtual tours available online if you’re unable to visit ahead of the trip – for instance, if you’re going abroad.

Remember, the risk-assessing side of things continues throughout the school trip. It is vital that you’re always alert through the duration of the school visit in case any potential risks arise.

Let the parents know!

Right, we all know you can’t just take the kids away without letting the parents know! All the hard work (so far) has been done. You have permission from the school, the venue, and you have the costs calculated and covered – it’s time to write home.

In your letters home to the children’s families, you must include…

  • Details and purpose of the trip.
  • Travel arrangements.
  • Any costs that need covering.
  • Uniform requirements or essentials that the children need to pack (especially if you’re staying overnight somewhere).
  • Details on meals. Are they catered for or does lunch need to be brought with the children?
  • A section for the parent or guardian to detail any medical requirements about the pupil.
  • The most important part: the permission slip with a deadline date for it to be handed in.

For some children, it may be their first school visit or first time away for home. If your trip involves staying over, it’s sometimes a good idea to host a parents’ evening where parents can ask questions and fully understand everything about the trip. This way, the parents will feel at ease and it also gives you the chance to reiterate any important points.

Have you spoken to your class?

Don’t forget the children! Time to get the kids excited about your big trip out. Wherever you may be travelling to, polish up the kids’ knowledge on where they’re going. Not only will it build excitement, but it will also really benefit them when they arrive.

We don’t want to keep having to be sensible – because we want you to have fun – but it’s also your chance to let your pupils know of any rules you’re going to impose when you’re on your visit. Whether they always have to be with their partner, have their student ID card on show, or even just use their ‘inside’ voices, it’s good to lay the boundaries down before you arrive.

Top 5 tips!

  1. Think about the ratio of adults to children. You can always ask parents if they’d like to join you on the trip.
  2. Don’t let the discipline slip. We know it’s good to have fun on school trips and to show pupils more of your fun side, but it’s extremely important not to let the rules bend. After all, they are in your care and are representing your school.
  3. Designate family time. If you’re taking the class away on a week-long trip, it’s important to be sensitive to those students who may be feeling homesick. Setting time aside for pupils to contact home will not only help the students, but will help to reassure their families as well.
  4. Always have a back-up plan. You never know what could go wrong – mainly the weather – so, make sure you always have a plan B.
  5. Coffee, anyone? LOTS PLEASE! This tip is a must if you’re going on a residential. It’s tiring and straining, so make sure you have plenty of caffeine to keep you going.  

Time to get those forms signed and those textbooks packed, because you’re all set for your school trip. If you need more information on finding a fun-packed educational day out, get in touch with us with us and we can tell you all about our school trips here at Blue Reef Portsmouth.

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