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.