Doubting the value of school trips?
Some parents, and even a few teachers, question whether taking kids away from the classroom environment is beneficial for the kids’ education. Whether considering a day trip or a residential school trip, the time away from the school is viewed by the doubters as learning time wasted.
For some parents, the cost of funding little Johnny or Lucy to take the trip may be a serious issue. This may be the underlying reason why they question the benefits of the trip. But others, where finance is definitely not the primary concern, see the missing of time in the classroom as a real problem.
Here, we look at some of the considerations and provide a few links to additional reading, which might help parents to make a better-informed decision on the value of school trips
It is our belief that school trips, of all sorts, are good for the kids who go. And, whether the next school trip is something you would fancy or not, sending your child can deliver massive, long-lasting benefits to their education. OFSTED reports that external, interactive educational activities tie learning to personal experiences and memories. This helps students develop a deeper understanding of subjects and topics.
There have been numerous studies that show that day trips, residential trips and other Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) brings great benefits to the kids who participate. (See links to a few articles, webpages etc which discuss the issues at the foot of this piece.)
We look at the benefits cited which include:
The last thing we consider is the kids who are left behind?
The Leavers Hoodies Company freely acknowledge that we have a vested interest in school trips being seen to be beneficial. We have been selling hoodies for school trips for the last 15 years or so.
But, in our defence, we have read about/around the issue and we also hear great stories about the trips, from parents and teachers. So, we firmly believe them to be useful, positive additions to the classroom-based education of the kids involved.
And, although it was a long time ago, we also went on such trips and remember them fondly. Not just for the fun we had but also for some of the things we learnt.
By and large, classrooms are great. They provide an environment where kids can be taught across a range of subjects and in many different ways. But they are just rooms! If, as a child, you are taught about maths, history and geography in the same (or very similar) rooms then the environment itself can’t/won’t add anything to the learning.
School trips, day or residential, give the kids a chance to learn in a different environment. The place itself adds to the facts or skills being learnt. The likelihood that the ‘lessons’ imparted are retained increases dramatically. We all better remember facts and skills when they are associated with a place, a smell, a touch, or the people we shared the experience with etc.
Few would argue that:
- learning about wars and the sacrifices people made in wartime would become more memorable as a result of a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum
- studying a language would be enhanced by time spent in a country where the language is spoken
- sports skills and motivation would be improved by spending time in a specialist training facility.
For most kids, a school trip may be the first time they have spent time away from their families. Residential trips especially provide constant opportunities for a child to learn about themselves and how to take care of themselves. Whether you are of primary or secondary school age being away for the first time is exciting, somewhat scary and can be very eye-opening.
School trips allow kids to be more self-contained and personally responsible in a safe environment. There is no going back, once a child has been away for a few days they may never cede so much control to their parents, or older siblings again. They may also have a different view of caring for younger siblings because they had to deal with less assured kids during their time away.
We have heard many stories of kids who ‘grew up’ massively during residential school trips. Going from hyper dependent youngsters to significantly more self-contained people demonstrating independence, confidence, self-esteem and coping strategies too.
No parent gives a thought to the benefits the teachers take from school trips. But, they can affect the ongoing education of kids who pass through their care for years to come. The benefits can include:
- improving their relationships with the kids, not just the kids who went but all kids
- establishing boundaries that work in the classroom situation and outside of it
- increasing their understanding of what makes the kids tick, and how they learn
- improving the teacher’s own self-awareness and sense of worth
For those of us who are not teachers, the role appears incredibly hard. And the idea of taking 20 or 30 kids away for a day, or even worse a few days & nights is positively frightening. Getting back to school after a successful trip, where everyone enjoyed themselves, learnt a lot and where the kids appear to have ‘grown’ or ‘grown-up’ must provide a massive boost to their confidence. It isn’t an easy thing to do.
The kids left behind
Class day trips generally don’t leave kids behind. But school residential trips often do. Some of the kids won’t be able to go, for one reason or another, and will be accommodated into other activities or classes at school while their classmates are away.
It is tough on the kids who haven’t been able to go. A few quite probably didn’t want to go but even they wouldn’t be human if FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) didn’t hit them to some extent.
Well organised schools make an effort to minimise the impact of missing out on residential trips by changing, to some extent, the structure of learning for the kids left behind.
When the trip kids have been allowed to get school trip hoodies some schools offer the kids, those who are not going, the chance to get a hoodie too. If the reason for not going was solely a financial one this may not work but otherwise, it can reduce the feeling of missing out.