The dos and don’ts of school trips


Embarking on a school trip can be daunting, especially with all of the responsibility that’s involved, but planning in advance can help to reduce the stress for teachers.

Not only does it increase the likelihood that everything goes smoothly on the day, but it also means that pupils should be able to get much more out of the experience.

Here we look at the dos and don’ts of school trips, from the planning stage through to the day of the trip itself.

School trips start with planning

Any school trip requires a vast amount of planning – from researching all there is to know about a destination or attraction through to the activities that will be completed when there.

Look for places with space for a group to congregate, especially at transport hubs such as stations, and make a note of places where it’s possible to buy food and drinks. If the group is taking a packed lunch on the day, you’ll need to factor in its preparation and finding somewhere for it to be eaten.

Create a schedule with rough timings included, and ensure that copies of it are distributed among pupils and support staff on the trip itself. Avoid trying to cram too much into the day, and make sure there is a degree of flexibility, in case something unexpected happens. Having a back-up plan can be useful, especially if working outdoors when poor weather conditions could have an impact.

Ideally, you’ll want to avoid particularly busy locations where possible and should carry out risk assessments for each element of the trip. If you can, try to visit the locations in advance of the trip too, as that way you can ensure they have adequate facilities for your needs.

Remember what the aims of the trip are too – for younger pupils, it will often be about introducing them to new surroundings and concepts, while those for older pupils should be tied to specific learning targets and objectives. All activities should be tied into these objectives to enable pupils to make the most of the day.

Focus on the pupils involved

If you can link the school trip to bits of the curriculum that are being covered in the classroom, you should find that pupils are more engaged. You may also want to talk through some of the activities that pupils will be completing with them in advance, as that way they are empowered to begin thinking about what they want to get from the experience.

Make sure they know what to expect from the day and the rules which apply to them – what they should take and what they shouldn’t, as an example. Make sure that every pupil knows what to do in an emergency and ensure they have contact details for any staff on the trip.

Ideally, you’ll want to limit the amount of equipment they might need too, as that reduces the number of items which could get lost. With older groups of pupils, you may want to assign certain responsibilities to them so that they look after any key equipment for the day.

Lastly, teachers should set clear ground rules ahead of the trip and, if possible, pupils should sign an agreement stating they will follow the rules, or be excluded from the trip. Make sure that all pupils fully understand the consequences of breaking the rules too.

As you can see, there’s plenty for teachers to consider when organising and undertaking a school trip. However, with planning and a clear set of objectives, it should be possible to ensure that the day is a success for all involved.

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