Monday, 13 May 2013

School Trips - an excuse for a 'jolly', or a real educational experience?

Ok, so a long title and a relatively short post. But there is a genuine debate here. I'm writing this post from Spain, with 22 students aged between 11 & 14. We are spending the week in Calella & Barcelona, visiting various Gaudi installations as well as touring old Barcelona and experiencing the culture of this area of Spain.

Are we right to be here, during term time? And should I use some of the school's Pupil Premium money to ensure that some students who could never afford to travel abroad can experience this?

I'm my mind, the answer is, to quote the BGT judges, 100% yes. Our students are about as diverse as it is possible to be, with a number who have not travelled beyond the borders of the UK (in fact, we have a couple of students who have never left the North West).

They have coped with navigating the bureaucracy of international flight, passport control and security screening. They have seen the inside of the flight deck (courtesy of one of our Business Mentors, who re-arranged her shifts to pilot our plane) & landed in a foreign country late in the evening.

They have risen to the challenges and more, growing in confidence as they realise that they have the capacity to cope with this 'strange' country and they have surprised themselves with their determination to practice their burgeoning language skills.

Whilst in school, they have, occasionally, broken into factions and squabbled over perceived differences, but here they learn that they share so much more in common than their differences may suggest and they work to support each other in many touching ways.

They are bigger, and better, in so many ways because of this opportunity and so yes, it is a wonderful, concentrated learning experience.

As for a 'jolly' ... So far the teachers have been on duty until midnight last night, up on duty from 7am this morning and we'll be able to switch off tonight, probably, around 10pm. And we'll repeat this pattern until we land back in the UK Friday afternoon. It is certainly not an easy option, however pleasant the students. My teachers take their responsibility towards students very seriously - it is one of the things I am so proud of about them, and they are even more careful and attentive out here, where we are truly in loco parentis.