Schoolzone: School trips: do they still have a place in the curriculum?

School trips: do they still have a place in the curriculum?


12 Sept 2016

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Looking back at our school days (and trying not to remember how long ago they were), the chances are that some of our best memories involve school trips, with the new experiences they introduced outside the confines of the classroom. However, teachers are facing some tough challenges in the current landscape: budgets are being cut; they lack time, and are under ever-increasing pressure to ensure that learning relates to ‘core subjects’. Let's not even mention this year's exam results, shall we.

With this in mind, how feasible are school trips these days, and what are teachers’ preferences for them? Do they still like the traditional model of taking students to an external venue? Or would they rather invite visitors into school? Maybe even embrace the technological age and organise an interactive learning experience via webinar / video-conferencing platforms?

At Schoolzone, we wanted to explore this issue, and so in July 2016 (the time when many teachers have the time to think about out-of-class learning because yay, summer holidays), we ran a survey to ask them what they thought. The survey received an good response, from over 800 primary and secondary teachers, indicating that this was a topic they were keen to have their say on.

Some of the key findings showed that:

  • Despite the challenges associated with organising a school trip (such as limited budgets and time constraints), schools still place a high value on these experiences: virtually all schools have organised a trip to an external organisation or venue in the past twelve months.
  • In addition to trips outside of the school grounds, visits from external organisations / individuals are also popular. Over 80% of those surveyed indicated that they had arranged an experience of this nature in the past 12 months, most likely because this approach is much cheaper, and fewer or no risk assessments are needed.
  • Virtual trips, which are hosted from the classroom via webinar technology, received a much more lukewarm response, due to teachers’ desire for children to experience the ‘real thing’, and a lack of ICT knowledge.
  • Financial cost is the biggest barrier to school trips, and pupils are often asked to contribute.
  • When taking pupils on a trip, the supporting documentation deemed most valuable was information about the venue. Lesson plans were least popular, most likely because they prefer to tailor the experience according to their own group of pupils.
  • Whilst a range of locations / venue types appeal to teachers, historical sites and museums are most popular with both primary and secondary schools.

So there we are. Trips to external venues still reign as the most popular approach to school trips for teachers and pupils are yet to experience everything through a computer screen. A quick thank you to everyone that participated within the research process and as always, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

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