The five sensory benefits of a school trip abroad

Blog post written by: Danielle West, Marketing Coordinator at Rayburn Tours.

The way we learn is a characteristic that makes each person unique. It’s as much a part of our identity as our appearance, speech, interests and values.

That’s why every child deserves the chance to explore their potential for knowledge through multi-sensory education. Access to learning experiences tailored to engage each of the five senses allows students and teachers to gain insight into how best to achieve lesson objectives.

Inside a classroom, sensory learning can be limited to looking at the brightness of a projector screen or touching the pages of a book. School trips offer students the opportunity to feel a different air around them, smell the uniqueness of a new environment and hear languages and sounds they wouldn’t hear every day.

Sight

A sense we take for granted, we use our sight to process our surroundings, often without the need for any further data.

Take art for example – the interpretation of a painting or sculpture can vary enormously from one person to another, meaning when it comes to visual learning, each student’s individuality will determine how they interact with and absorb information.

Having committed hours of time to teaching young geographers about Iceland’s tectonic plates, nothing compares to gearing them up with drysuits and snorkels for an eye-opening swim in the Silfra fissure, allowing a first-hand view of its stunning beauty.

Being able to point at and comment on what can be seen ‘in the flesh’, as opposed to a flat image, gives your students a brand new appreciation for their lesson content.

Sound

Focusing on auditory learning alone may seem like an unusual approach, but it can unlock previously unidentified creativity within students. Asking your class what they think about when they hear certain noises, encourages use of imagination and independent thought.

Music can influence emotion and create association, whilst hearing the rush of water or a crack of thunder can put the power of Mother Nature into perspective.

Visiting foreign countries and being exposed to native speakers introduces new dialects and a wider vocabulary that language students may not have had access to in school.

Using sound as a teaching tool doesn’t have to be complicated. Tyne Cot Cemetery has a straightforward technique for creating maximum impact. By playing aloud the names of over 34,000 missing soldiers for history students to hear during their visit, brings home the startling reality and consequence of war.

Touch

Choosing school trip excursions that are interactive can make all the difference in engaging the minds of those who are easily distracted.

One experience in particular that comes to mind when considering the use of physical touch as a learning mechanism, is the DDR Museum in Berlin. A self-proclaimed ‘hands-on experience of history’, the museum allows visitors to feel and hold the objects on display, and uses game-playing as a way to deliver information.

Direct contact with a variety of textures and temperatures, including the heat of the fumaroles in the Azores, or the misty spray Iceland’s Skogafoss waterfall, is ideal for tactile learners.

Smell

Smell is probably the most powerful of the senses when it comes to triggering memories – almost everyone has a particular scent that reminds them of a past experience, making smell an effective way to help students cement their knowledge.

Those looking to inhale the aromas offered up by local cuisine may choose a visit to Switzerland’s cheese factory ‘La Maison du Gruyere’, or Sorrento’s Limonoro, where you’ll find some of Italy’s finest produce.

A cultural trip to Barcelona’s Boqueria Market offers more than just historical and language learning. It can also be an opportunity to absorb a plethora of exotic smells, helping to associate education with a positive event.

Taste

No school trip would be complete without tasting a selection of the local food on offer.

A geography trip to Iceland is more likely to be remembered with a stop-off at Efstidalur, where students can gain an insight into Icelandic farm life right in the heart of the Golden Circle, and taste some of the country’s most famous ice cream.

Most people associate Italy with pizza, so the promise of a meal at an authentic Italian pizzeria is enough to get students excited about a trip.

In conclusion

The world is filled with endless opportunities to stimulate the five senses, and allows both students and teachers to realise that learning doesn’t have to be limited to the four walls of a classroom. There are thousands of ways to engage young people, and many teachers would agree that the benefits of a school trip abroad extend far beyond what you might think.

About the author

Danielle West works as a Marketing Coordinator at Rayburn Tours.

Based at Rayburn House in Derby, her role is to help inspire young people to seek new adventures, embrace new cultures and learn new skills.

Rayburn Tours is an independent, family-run business that has been dedicated to providing tailor-made, international tours for groups since 1965; specialising in Educational Trips, Ski Trips and Sports Tours for schools, as well as Concert Tours for all types of youth and adult ensembles.

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Try something different for your next school trip

Image: Scout Adventures

Blog post written by: Justine Lee, Communications and Fundraising Manager at the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.

When you know a school trip works, it’s tempting to keep repeating it year after year – but there’s a whole world to explore out there, urges Justine Lee…

Your next school trip could be the most impactful educational experience your students will take part in this term, but it’s easy to fall into old habits when planning a programme. You had a great time last year, you know what to expect if you go back… and before you know it you have been going to the same venue for 10 years to do the exact same activity! Here are five ways you can make a change to what you do for your next learning outside the classroom (LOtC) session or school visit – without an unreasonable impact on your own workload:

1. Let your students lead
At its simplest level this could be asking learners where they would like to go to find out more about the topic being studied. At the other end of the spectrum you could involve them in planning the whole experience. Helping to plan and manage a school visit/ LOtC session can have enormous and lasting benefits for young people. Taking responsibility for themselves and others provides pupils with a sense of ownership. This approach has been found to improve engagement, confidence and attitude to working with others.

It also empowers young people and allows them to take control of their learning experience. After the session or visit, ask them to reflect on what happened and look at how they might do things differently next time.

2. Look for the badge
Breaking free from a regular annual trip means finding a new location or provider, checking insurance, risk assessments, health and safety and emergency policies, safeguarding… but don’t panic, because you can circumvent all this by choosing a LOtC Quality Badge holder. This accreditation is the only national award which endorses good quality education provision and effective risk management. Providers with this accreditation have been assessed and meet all the appropriate safety standards and liability insurance.

3. Don’t reinvent the wheel
A new venue or location also means a new lesson plan, new activities to develop. Take the pressure off and make use of the wealth of material available online. Many destinations offer resources for all ages and Key Stages, covering the whole curriculum. Packs usually include lesson plans, curriculum links, case studies, tips and recommendations, location/ setting ideas and activities. These will save you time and ensure your students enjoy an engaging and value-added LOtC session or visit. If you are using an external provider to help deliver the session, talk to them, too. They will have information sheets and activities along with examples of what they have done for other schools, and will know what works well. They will also be able to work with you to ensure the experience meets your desired learning outcomes.

About the Author
Justine Lee is Communications and Fundraising Manager at the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, which runs the LOtC Mark for schools, the LOtC Quality Badge for providers and venues, and CPD training for teachers.

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‘School trips disrupt learning’ and other educational travel myths

Studies have proven that learning outside the classroom has a positive effect on motivation and behaviour

Group travel specialists Rayburn Tours disprove some of the common beliefs regarding extra-curricular escapades.

When teachers begin planning a school trip, the road ahead can look like a daunting journey of red tape and flaming hoops, and the easiest escape is to refer to a ready-made list of excuses.
But travelling with students is not something that should be feared or avoided, especially when you realise that the level of enrichment far outweighs the potential stress.
Are educational tours as strenuous as you think?Below we’ve disproved some of the common beliefs regarding extra-curricular escapades.

School trips disrupt learning
Do school trips require time to be taken out of the classroom? Yes. But who’s to say all teaching has to happen in the classroom? Many teachers are beginning to recognise the value that the outside world can add to your students’ education.
Planet Earth is home to a plethora of sensory experiences, many of which lend themselves to different ways of learning. Those who don’t enjoy or engage with classroom learning may find themselves thriving in an environment where they can see, smell, feel and hear their lessons. It brings the curriculum to life and allows students to make a physical connection to the things they’ve been taught.
As well as exposing students to different cultures, authentic traditions and native languages, school trips can contribute to invaluable personal development including independence, social skills, career choices and a sense of responsibility.
In conclusion, it’s safe to say that school trips, in fact, are learning.

School trips cost too much
But they don’t have to! The most important thing to consider when planning a trip is exactly what you want your students to gain from it, before you even start thinking about how to deliver the learning.
There are many ways to make your trip more cost-effective when taking students abroad, such as travelling by coach, staying in hostels and opting for free or low-cost excursions.
Travel with a reputable tour organiser who has expert knowledge of your chosen destination, and they will be able to tailor your itinerary to suit both your budget and your learning objectives.
Choose your timing wisely as certain times of year mean higher prices. Maintain as much communication as possible with parents – you may want to consider offering a payment plan over time or organising some fundraising activities in school to help pay for the trip.

School trips are a logistical headache
Again, they don’t have to be! There is an ongoing debate as to whether a DIY school trip is better than using a tour operator, but the reality is that those who book trips day-in day-out will have invaluable knowledge to share with you and guide you through the process, ensuring no important details are missed.
On the trip itself, many teachers find themselves wondering how they are going to deliver their subject curriculum in a completely different environment. Look into the resources that are available to you, for example hiring a field study tutor or a history tour guide, who can join your trip solely to teach your students according to your learning objectives. In fact, based on feedback received from teachers over the years, at Rayburn Tours we won’t plan a history trip without recommending a history tour guide for the group.

“Many teachers are beginning to recognise the value that the outside world can add to your students’ education”

School trips encourage bad behaviour
When taking students out of school it can be easy to become a lot stricter. You’re more on edge and always anticipating potential issues.Instead, try to see it as an adventure for your group. They’re being subjected to a different kind of stimulus and will be extremely curious. Studies have proven that learning outside the classroom has a positive effect on motivation and behaviour.
Adventure and physical challenges allow students to expel their energy and apply their knowledge and skills in a different way. Similarly, having access to the arts can stimulate an emotional and thoughtful reaction, therefore making learning a lot more engaging.
Make fun high on your agenda and focus on the opportunities to be had.

School trips won’t benefit a teacher’s career
The term ‘extra-curricular’ is always associated with more time and therefore more work, so to add to the load of a teacher’s already packed schedule can seem counterproductive.
Think about the passion you have for your subject and how an increased uptake at choices stage will reflect positively on you. The relationships you have with your students will become more solid, making for a less stressful experience when back in the classroom. Not only that, you will have a deeper understanding of the way your students like to learn and can therefore encourage a more committed attitude towards education.
A school trip is your chance to learn and show your skills as much as it is your students’. See it as a development opportunity and an unmissable experience, rather than a time wasting nuisance!

About the author

Danielle West works as a Marketing Coordinator at Rayburn Tours.

Based at Rayburn House in Derby, her role is to help inspire young people to seek new adventures, embrace new cultures and learn new skills.

Rayburn Tours is an independent, family-run business that has been dedicated to providing tailor-made, international tours for groups since 1965; specialising in Educational Trips, Ski Trips and Sports Tours for schools, as well as Concert Tours for all types of youth and adult ensembles.

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Learning Beyond the Classroom with Literacy Inspired Outdoor Education

Blog post written by: Kate Heap, Primary English Specialist from Leeds.

There is so much scope for imagination when children are given opportunities to learn beyond the four walls of their classroom and explore the wider world through outdoor learning.

The Michael Morpurgo novel, Kensuke’s Kingdom, is an engaging story which can be linked to many fantastic cross-curricular units in Upper Key Stage Two. “Journeys”, “The South Pacific”, “Exploring the Word” and “Survival” are just some of the exciting possibilities. In this book, ten-year-old Michael embarks on a sailing adventure with his parents. As they cross the South Pacific, they are caught in a storm and Michael falls overboard. The remainder of the story follows his quest for survival and rescue.

A number of years ago, my Year 6 class included many children for whom English was an additional language and who had never had the experience of being out on the water in a boat of any kind. I knew they may struggle with the vocabulary and concepts of Kensuke’s Kingdom. In response to this challenge, we decided to take the children to our local sailing club for a day of sailing experiences, vocabulary development and survival role play. It has since become a regular (and popular) part of the school’s Year 6 Literacy plans.

Our aims:

    • give children an experience of sailing to support their understanding of the novel Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo
    • help children to develop empathy for the main character, Michael
    • develop vocabulary around sailing, ocean, weather, island, survival
    • teach children the basic needs for survival
    • develop team-building and personal resilience at the beginning of Year 6

During the day, the children took part in three sessions. They were given a booklet to enhance their understanding of the various activities and to hold any notes and sketches.

The first activity was sailing itself. This was incredibly empowering for the children. Many were nervous but once they were out on the water, the freedom and joy they found was amazing. Their confidence, pride and sense of teamwork flourished. The sailing centre staff made a greatly appreciated effort to read the book ahead of time and strived to use as much vocabulary from the story as possible. They chatted with the children throughout the experience and referenced the story as often as they could. The children came away with an in depth, practical understanding of the sailing and marine elements of the book which was invaluable.

Their second activity was a survival role play. Using extracts from Kensuke’s Kingdom, the children imagined they had been washed up on a beach. As they lay on the ground at the side of the water with their eyes closed, they took in the sounds, smells and feelings of the shore. Listening to the story being read aloud, the children slowly opened their eyes to see nothing but sky and then slowly got up to take in their surroundings. A discussion about basics needs for survival helped to focus the group on their priorities for exploring the nearby trees. They worked in small groups to role play a search for food, water, shelter and fire building. At the end of this session, they made brief notes in their booklets in preparation for a “Recipe for Survival” to be written back at school – more advanced instructional writing to add to their range of genres.

Finally, the children took part in a vocabulary and poetry session on the shore. With a focus on being intentional and specific with their word choices, the children sat quietly to take in their environment. The adults encouraged them to jot down a wide variety of words, thinking about nouns, verb, adjectives and adverbs linked to water, waves, wind, weather and sky. The group then developed their understanding of abstract nouns and figurative language, thinking about possible themes for shape poetry based on sailing and the sea. Using examples in their booklet, the children experimented with lines of poetry in the shape of sailboats, waves and the wind which they continued and improved once they were back at school.

Linking Literacy with OAA (Outdoor and Adventurous Activities) was more successful than we could ever have imagined. The empowerment of adventure, the depth of the conversations and the focus on team-building as the children worked together on something completely new contributed to love for fantastic novel, respect for the outdoors and elements of survival, and inspired the children to write with rich language and detail. Every child, especially those with EAL (English as an additional language) or who had lower Literacy skills, progressed and surpassed our expectations.

I encourage every teacher to look for OAA links in their Literacy units. Thinking beyond the classroom helps to create a meaningful, vibrant and engaging curriculum that is memorable and inspiring for our students.

For more information, you may wish to visit the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom website.

Credits: Thank you to Farsley Farfield Primary School and Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre.

About the author

Kate is an experienced Primary English Specialist from Leeds. She is passionate about helping children to be inspired by their learning through adventure and imagination. She is skilled in supporting colleagues in their professional development, creating meaningful cross-curricular English plans and linking English objectives, lessons and resources to the rigorous Key Stage Two assessment requirements.
Kate is also an author for teachers with her book, Classics for Key Stage Two, to be published in 2020.
Read more from Kate on her blog: www.scopeforimagination.co.uk and follow her on Twitter (@KateHeap1).

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Using learning outside the classroom to develop character

Blog post written by: Daniel Cibich, Head of Educational Partnerships at The Outward Bound Trust.

Following the launch of the DfE Character Education Framework Guidance in early November, I attended a Westminster Education Forum policy conference to hear from a line-up of speakers including educators and industry partners, and a session featuring case studies from “character education outside the classroom”.

Ahead of the event, I was reminded of a blog by Anita Kerwin Nye for Every Child Should about the position schools are in as a point of universal delivery. Do we just expect that schools will ‘teach’ character? Are we leaving it all to them – surely, we can’t just expect schools to carry this load alone?

Sitting alongside peers from the ‘learning outside the classroom’ sector including outdoors, sport, music, culture and social action amongst others, it was motivating to feel the passion in the room to support schools in providing opportunities and experiences that help develop character.
A lot is expected of our schools and the role they play in the rounded education of youth.

As I listened to the enthusiastic mix of speakers, I was struck by both the simplicity and complexity of character development in our modern society.

Sir Anthony Seldon spoke about making values in school organic, pupil-led by class, year level and whole school; and that “schools are preparing people for life, whatever they do, and building a better society.” No pressure then! But it’s right though isn’t it? Schools and communities working together to create future leaders filled with direction, moral purpose, empathy, grit and determination. What about exam results? Sir Anthony’s response simple: “the more character is lived, the more other KPI’s will increase.”

Gary Lewis, Chair of Association of Character Education went on to say that “the evidence is overwhelming, exam results have little impact on success determination.”

Could the structure and values of our society be underpinned by character? Seems logical, assuming we’re talking about good character – how do we define that? The framework guidance does not propose to define character, rather outline four keys aspects that schools can use to shape their provision.

Keynote speaker and Chair, Character Advisory Group to the Department of Education Ian Bauckham made the point that a “focus on building character is not an alternative to academic excellence”, but must be “and-both”.

Okay, where do we start? Gary Lewis suggested that “schools require a strong culture and ethos that is well defined and understood by staff, students, families and the local community.” I don’t think many head teachers would argue with this. “Character must not be left to chance; it should be threaded through all elements of the school.” Simple, but complex.

I’ve long been a believer in the using the outdoors to help support the development of character in young people. With The Outward Bound Trust I’ve championed the type 2 fun approach for many years, however it was the reintroduction of the term ‘character’ into the education agenda in recent years that prompted me to reflect a bit more deeply about the opportunities and experiences that really develop character.

As I listened to Ian Bauckham Chair, Character Advisory Group to the Department of Education walk the audience through the framework guidance I couldn’t help but try and answer (to myself!) the questions posed by the Six Character Benchmarks.

How are we (and our sector) supporting schools to work towards the benchmarks? And, if we were a school, how could we use these to respond and guide our practice?

The Six Character Benchmarks

What kind of school are we?
It’s pretty clear that on an Outward Bound course, like many learning outside the classroom experiences, we’re going to take a Learning By Doing approach. But we’re equally clear about our mission to help young people defy limitations and teach them to believe in themselves.
There are the small things that we and other quality providers in our space do when working with schools. The impact is greater when our aims are aligned, we’ll do our best to envelope a school ethos or mission into our delivery.
The Outward Bound tribe is a strong one. People speak positively and fondly of their experience’s years later.

What are our expectations of behaviour towards each other?
We’ve attempted to define our own organisational culture through our “Ways of Working Together”. Reading through this charter it’s easy to find links to character; responsibility, communication, leadership, determination, team, praise; and by living these values earning the right to challenge colleagues that do not (it reminds me of another point Gary Lewis made, how school leaders must “challenge teachers to show good character and to challenge parents if they undo what a school is trying to do.”)

How well do our curriculum and teaching develop resilience and confidence?
I’ll argue that this is our bread and butter! But our approach is just one of many that can be used to help develop character. I’ll use a progression analogy. Getting kids outside the classroom starts at Early Years, often play based. We connect with others, sometimes in and with nature. As we move through schooling this might progress in many ways. A trip to a museum, a local farm or community initiative. Hopefully it progresses to a residential experience creating opportunities to build independence and a broader horizon, fostering new relationships and building capacity to cope with change.

How good is our co-curriculum?
Our sector is measured by schools as to how well we can provide co-curricular or curricular enrichment. But I’ll ask the question more directly of us – how good is our co-curricular? The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom “believe every place is a learning space” so I considered what this means for us. We’ve taken a ‘work zone’ approach to the learning space that is our stores and equipment areas. Pupils are encouraged to adopt behaviours when entering the work zone so that being planned and organised, showing commercial awareness, communicating effectively and working as a team results in having the kit you need to maximise fun and adventure in the wilderness.
We know the value of the community and residential setting and we continue to look at how the findings from the Learning Away and Brilliant Residentials campaign can inform our practice to further increase impact in the social spaces and the time away from adventures.

How well do we promote the value of volunteering and service to others?
Many partners in the sector (youth social action, DofE Awards etc) are set up with a deliberate purpose to create the opportunity for service of others and many schools run their own outreach and community focused projects to introduce the value of these opportunities.
75+ years ago Kurt Hahn (who co-founded Outward Bound) wrote about service being one of four antidotes to the six declines of modern youth. Given our history, I wonder if this is an area Outward Bound could consider for more depth? Service has not been lost from our delivery – but could we more explicit about “promoting the value of service to others?” Linking to civic virtues perhaps?

How do we ensure all pupils benefit equally from what we offer?
We strive to progress all young people we work with, regardless of their starting point. It’s embedded in how we work with groups and common amongst outdoor learning practitioners; the level playing field, immersion, group success. But, consider the elephant in the room – how much does it cost? Have a read of this blog from Anita Kerwin Nye again, Has the extra in extra-curricular become exclusive?

The Outward Bound Trust are fortunate to have a network of like-minded donors that believe in the work we do and want as many young people as possible to have an outdoor adventure learning experience – so we have a bursary programme to off-set the cost of our courses.

Outdoor learning doesn’t have to come with a big cost. It might take a bit of courage and creativity to get started, but the sector is full of free resources and guidance to help. Everyone can get kids outside; we’ve just got to want to do it. The more we can, the more it will create habits that will benefit their wellbeing. With healthy happy young people society will flourish, and the rest of the KPI’s will take care of themselves.

About the author
Daniel Cibich is the Head of Educational Partnerships at The Outward Bound Trust where for the last nine years he has worked with schools to help teach young people the most important lesson they could ever learn: to believe in themselves.

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So much more than just a History Tour Guide…

Blog post written by: Sophie Lamb, Graphic Designer at Rayburn Tours.

When most people think of a tour guide, they picture someone at the helm of a group of people, microphone and flag in tow, reciting ‘on your left…’ and ‘on your right…’.

That wasn’t the case for Brighton Hill Community School.

In the last week of October, I accompanied Brighton Hill on their history trip to the Belgian battlefields. Keen to get the most out of their students, party leader Ms Humphries opted for two of Rayburn’s History Tour Guides for their insightful, detailed knowledge – but ended up getting so much more.

After 3 days with tour guides Trevor and Richard, I am converted. But make your own mind up – would you enlist the support of a History Tour Guide on your next trip?

It was clear from the start of my trip with Brighton Hill Community School, whilst navigating the White Cliffs of Dover, that these tour guides were going to add more than just their in-depth historical knowledge.

It all started with a phone call. Trevor and Richard gave party leader Ms Humphries a call before the tour to have a chat and understand exactly what the kids needed to know, as well as what she wanted them to get out of it. A great way to feel like you know each other before they hop on your coach!

Right from our first excursion, I was in awe of Trevor and Richard. Their level of knowledge and the passion they exuded was infectious. As someone who’s never been too invested in history as a subject, this was eye-opening for me – and I could see it was really sinking in with the kids. The knowledge our guides bring to these tours is so in-depth and specific, that the kids get so much more out of it.

“We might be able to talk about the Battle of the Somme, but there’s no way we would be able to point out the tree line where the tanks came over, or exactly where the gas attack took place.”
– Ms Humphries, Brighton Hill

Trevor and Richard made sure that it was a hands-on experience for the kids, getting them involved with reading headstones, interacting with old weapons and modelling WWI’s finest attire. As an outsider looking in, it was clear that making sure the kids were involved was an important aspect of the tour, as it really helped to make things more real and kept everyone focused.

And it was evident that the friendly faces of our guides took a huge stress off the teachers. It meant they could focus on their primary job for the trip – looking after the kids – whilst also learning themselves and absorbing the invaluable information.

But it wasn’t just the excursions that Trevor (or as he later became known, Uncle Trevor) and Richard were there to help with. They went above and beyond for the group, doing all of those things make life on tour so much easier.
They knew the area and the people like the backs of their hand. And getting sorted in restaurants and navigating French roadworks seemed as if it was just part of their makeup. To quote one of the teachers, ‘it made the entire trip seamless’.

Before we arrived in Belgium, Trevor described the process of the tour to me: ‘all we’re doing is moving the classroom from Basingstoke to the trenches…’. Whilst this is true, throughout the tour I realised that having a History Tour Guide offered so much more than just moving the classroom and having a new teacher for the weekend. Our guides bring a level of passion and knowledge that make it more than just reciting information, but about passing on real life experiences that stay with you even after the trip.

“Our guides bring a level of passion and knowledge that make it more than just reciting information, but about passing on real life experiences that stay with you even after the trip.”
– Sophie Lamb, Rayburn Tours

Putting the educational aspect to one side, not only do they become an integral part of the tour, but it was clear from the swarm of kids wanting photos with them as a memento; the chants being made up for them on the coach; and the tears falling from some of their eyes when we had to leave, that these guides became their friends and people they really admire and look up to.

We forget what it’s like to be 13 years old and in complete awe of someone so knowledgeable. Well, being in the presence of Trevor and Richard on my trip to the battlefields certainly made me remember.

“If anyone was thinking of going on tour without a guide, I would recommend that you don’t. Definitely take a guide.”
– Ms Humphries, Brighton Hill

Group travel specialists since 1965, Rayburn Tours is dedicated to creating tailor-made tours to the UK, Europe and beyond.

About the Author
Sophie Lamb works as a Graphic Designer at Rayburn Tours. Based at Rayburn House in Derby, her role is to create designs that inspire young people to seek new adventures, embrace new cultures and learn new skills.
Rayburn Tours is an independent, family-run business that has been dedicated to providing tailor-made, international tours for groups since 1965; specialising in Educational Trips, Ski Trips and Sports Tours for schools, as well as Concert Tours for all types of youth and adult ensembles.

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School trips for all


Blog post written by: Justine Lee, Communications and Fundraising Manager at the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.

Educational trips offer a multitude of benefits for pupils of all abilities. They help motivate, raise attainment and expose students to new experiences. They can be especially valuable to pupils who are hard to reach or who do not respond well to traditional teaching methods, for whatever reason. Children with SEN or disabilities often learn best through doing; educational trips provide pupils with real life experiences and help them develop the necessary skills to enable them to lead an independent or semi-independent life in adulthood.

For children with SEN and disabilities, as with all children, having contact with different people and environments encourages them to adapt to new situations. Making these experiences a regular part of school life provides frequent opportunities to develop pupils’ confidence and social skills while expanding their horizons and becoming more aware of the world around them.

Stimulating development
Day trips can provide memorable, fun experiences for all pupils. The benefits of a residential visit are also just as relevant to young people with SEN as they are to any other young person. Overnight trips might present a unique set of challenges, but these need not be seen as barriers to involving students with SEN or disabilities. It is important that parents understand the value of residential experiences for their child.

Trips away from school provide opportunities for pupils with SEN to develop in a number of ways, from increasing their communication and social skills to taking additional responsibility and developing essential life skills, confidence and independence.

Increasingly, teachers are seeing that getting children out and about has huge social, emotional and educational benefits, and teachers are also reaping the rewards themselves. Relationships between teachers and young people improve through shared experiences, and many teachers find new ways to relate to their pupils during school trips.

When planning a residential trip, good preparation is crucial. It is important to help pupils understand and be ready for the things they will encounter during the visit, so they are not anxious or confused when they come up against something new.

Making the trip work for all pupils

Deciding where to go
Choosing when and where to go is crucial. Decide what you want to achieve through the school trip and what kind of environment will suit your pupils. The surroundings and environment can impact significantly on the trip’s success. Going on a visit during November or January could mean the destination or venue is quieter, which will help reduce sensory overload. Choosing a venue that is close to home will help reduce travel time and minimise unsettling changes, with no early starts or late finishes.

Talk to your pupils
Help your pupils to become familiar with the chosen destination by talking about it early on. Look at maps or use online programmes or apps to show pictures of the location and the kind of activities that they will be taking part in. Build a lesson plan around the visit and encourage students to research and find out as much as they can about the destination or venue.

Talk to your chosen venue or provider
Some school trip destinations and providers have programmes which have been specially devised to meet the needs of children with SEN and disabilities. These tailored programmes can help each child to get the most out of their school trip. Involving your visit provider or venue as early as possible in the planning process will help ensure the trip is a success. Many providers are keen to work with schools to develop a programme that meets pupils’ learning outcomes and needs.

Check staff qualifications and experience
Ask your chosen venue or visit provider if any staff have relevant experience or qualifications relating to SEN or disability. This will help ensure each child’s needs are met whilst on the trip. It also means appropriate levels of support and motivation can be provided. If the pupil has a learning support assistant whilst at school, make sure they are able to join the trip too, as this will help provide continuity in terms of care.

Ask about accessible facilities
Many venues and visit providers have accessible spaces and facilities, from wheelchair friendly loos and showers to different colour schemes to make it easier to navigate around the venue. List what needs your pupils have and talk to the venue or visit provider about how these needs can be accommodated.

Undertake a familiarisation visit
A familiarisation visit will mean you know the layout of the venue or destination – for example, where the nearest accessible loos or quiet spaces are – and how to get around before you arrive with your class. You will also get the opportunity to talk to the staff who will be leading or supporting your trip.

Many venues and visit providers offer free familiarisation visits for school teachers; this includes providers of trips overseas as well as those to UK destinations. As well as being an opportunity to check facilities and resources, a familiarisation visit will give you added confidence on your school trip which in turn will help your students feel more secure.

About the Author
Justine Lee is Communications and Fundraising Manager at the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, which runs the LOtC Mark for schools, the LOtC Quality Badge for providers and venues, and CPD training for teachers.

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