If this is the first time you’ve planned a school trip, you’re worried that you’ll forget something or you simply don’t know where to start, our guide will give you everything you need to go forth and conquer (…or perhaps just organise an outstanding school trip).
There’s a lot to think about, and teachers can be understandably anxious. Ask your school Educational Visits Coordinator (EVC) for advice and guidance, and consult your school’s policy for educational visits. Between the EVC, your school’s policy, this guide and a dash of common sense, you should have the basis to start planning a great school trip!
Planning Your School Trip
Deciding Where to Go
Take a little time to research school trip venues near you, and read any recommendations and reviews other teachers have given them.
1. Getting the most educational value from your visit
First things first. What sort of trip are you looking for? Which subject (or subjects) do you want to focus on, and how will the trip link into the National Curriculum? It’s important for you, your pupils and your head teacher to be able to justify the educational value and learning goals of the trip – after all, they cost time and money, two resources that teachers sorely lack. There are great venues opening every year, so don’t be tempted just to go to the same place as last year – do a little research on school trips near you so you can truly say that you’re taking your pupils to the best place for them.
2. Check your chosen venue is right for you
Speak to the education officer at the venue to make sure that they know your requirements, so you know that your pupils can get the most out of their learning experience. They will be able to give you lots of information, run through the potential visit with you and answer any questions you may have. It should be possible for you to visit the venue yourself for free prior to the school trip, so you can be totally comfortable with what to expect. We’d highly recommend a pre-visit as it will enable you to answer any questions your EVC, head teacher, a parent or carer may have. Any trips involving water or physical activity, as well as any residential stays, require governor approval – and all trips require approval from your head teacher. You should also check out the videos, images and further information such as FAQs on the venue’s website.
The Practicalities of Your School Trip
So you’ve decided where to take your class, fantastic! Now comes the detailed planning…
Cost will rear its ugly head very early on in your planning, and is clearly an important factor especially if your school is in a less affluent area. In many cases, voluntary contributions from parents are required. You will need to work out if the trip could still go ahead if you don’t get a contribution from every parent – it’s a good idea to mention in your letter to parents that the trip may not happen if you can’t cover the cost. If your school subsidises the cost, include this information in the letter too. Don’t forget to include the cost both of entry into the venue and of transport in your calculations.
4. Completing risk assessments
Risk assessments are a paperwork-heavy part of every school trip, but are necessary to identify any dangers and control measures for the location and any activities. You’ll probably have to complete a generic risk assessment as well as one specific to the visit. Many venues provide their own risk assessments which makes your life a little easier, and if you are able to visit the venue prior to the trip, that will also support you in writing risk assessments. Be aware that any risk assessments may need be adjusted to cater for the needs of children with SEND, or any medical requirements.
Schools must ensure that SEND pupils are not treated less favourably during school trips. There must be reasonable access for pupils with disabilities, and you should plan for their needs accordingly. For example, you may need to provide disabled transport or ensure any care plans are being met. Find out about the facilities and access at the venue as well, and include any necessary details in your risk assessment(s).
6. Adult to pupil ratios
The ratio of adults to children varies with age and depends on any activities your pupils will be doing. You can check this both with your LEA and also with the venue. It may be that you’ll need other members of staff to volunteer to accompany you, or even some parents if there aren’t enough members of staff available. All trips should include a member of staff who is a qualified first aider, and it’s also important to ensure that you follow your school’s Safeguarding Policy at all times – you should discuss this with your EVC.
Taking your class on a day school trip means that food is an important consideration. Most children will have a packed lunch from home, but you will need to ensure that you order a packed lunch for any children who have free school dinners. Check how lunches and breaks work with the venue you’re going to.
Maximising the Value of Your School Trip
8. Pre-school trip lesson planning
Many of the best school trip venues have downloadable teaching resources and study materials that you can use to prepare your children for the trip. They will get more out of the visit if they’ve learned a little bit about the place they’re visiting beforehand. Your contact at the venue should also be able to help with this.
9. Parental consent
You’ve visited the venue, convinced your head teacher of its educational value, written up a mound of risk assessments and checked insurance details…now all you need is parental consent. This is sometimes easier said than done, especially if your school isn’t in an affluent area and parents simply don’t have the money for a voluntary contribution.
You also need completed permission forms for all pupils, and details on medical, travel sickness, and emergency contact information. Without parental or carer consent, children are not allowed to go on school trips. There’s plenty of information you need to give to parents too, such what their children should wear, what they need to bring (e.g. spending money, sun cream, lunch, raincoat), what they shouldn’t bring (huge rucksacks, cameras and mobile devices, for example), and expected behaviour.
Many venues will make up small gift bags for each child to take home with them after the trip. This means they don’t have to take spending money, you can specify the value, and include it within the trip cost. Just ask the venue prior to your trip.