The following article comes from Sarah Jones, Head of English and Careers at Rendcomb College in Gloucestershire, UK.
The enforced hiatus surrounding trips over the last couple of years has reinforced and clearly cemented, the merit of these enriching moments across the school calendar. When once they existed merely in the realm of something schools just ‘did’ or were expected to ‘do’ as part of the curriculum, they have now transcended this basic format, and instead have far greater relevance in promoting opportunities for: student bonding, positive mental health experiences, and developing aspirational awareness of life beyond school.
For far too long students just accepted that a school trip would automatically occur at some stage during the year. This year, they have realised their worth.
However, away from the benefits that a trip can bring, the mechanics of bringing the idea of a trip from concept to fruition can appear onerous; in reality, it need not be the case. The secret to hassle-free trip planning is all in the preparation, ensuring everything is completed in a timely fashion so that, on the day, you (as the organiser) can have as enjoyable a day out as possible.
Across a school year, I regularly organise trips/visiting speakers and, as they now work on a roughly similar calendar basis, I am able to do the vast majority of the planning at the end of the previous school year when Year 11 and 13 classes have ceased.
These trips range from short excursions to the local literature festival, whole-day visits to Stratford-upon-Avon, a weekend immersive visit to Hardy country, and everything in-between. Whether they are trips that last just two hours or longer excursions that span across three days, the format of the planning remains the same.
”Whether they are trips that last just two hours or longer excursions that span across three days, the format of the planning remains the same.
15 Tips for Planning a School Trip
1. Check for any calendar clashes
Check with SLT/calendar organiser to make sure the day(s) you are planning are free and not in conflict with other trips/exam preparation/etc.
2. Make contact with the place you are planning to visit
Ensure you check the following:
a. Number of students participating
b. Cost to pupils
c. Access points for drop off/collection
d. Picnic facilities/food outlets
3. Liaise with the transport company
Liaise with coach company/ensure minibus is free for booking if taking a smaller group of students.
4. Calculate the total cost for parents
This should include: entry fee, transport costs, and lunch costs if your school is providing a packed lunch.
5. Send any invoices to your finance department
6. Write the letter that will be sent out to parents to request permission
Ensure you include: purpose of trip, date of trip, cost to pupils, leaving/return times, reply slip for confirmation of attendance, and the date the confirmation slips need to be returned by (and to whom). If you need to have SLT check your letter prior to sending, ensure this is done before emailing out to parents/guardians.
7. Collate and chase replies
This, to be honest, is the most time-consuming element of the process. If your school has a blanket acceptance policy use it with gusto.
8. Book in cover for the trip, ensure supporting staff members do the same
9. Send out a list to participating students of any equipment they may need for the trip
For residential trips this will obviously be considerably larger.
10. Create the risk assessment
It may be that your school has a standard operating procedure to follow, or you may need to create one yourself, but make sure you have the following information to hand: name of pupils attending, any SEN/allergy/medical notes, parent/guardian contact numbers if it’s a residential trip, and how many staff attending – you may need to recheck ratios required with your trip provider.
11. Inform the wider school of the times/dates of your trip – your colleagues will be immensely grateful to you for this
12. Just before the trip – recheck all key information
Check coach arrival time/minibus is still booked to you, booking confirmation from destination, packed lunches booked, any medical equipment you need to take – and any students that need key medical supplies with them.
13. Double check supplies
Ensure you have the correct medical supplies, the school phone is charged, and you are clear on timings for your visit.
14. On the day procedures
Take a register on the bus/minibus, hand out any travel sickness tablets prior to departure (speaking from experience this is an essential step!), ensure all students have the contact number in case of emergencies and run through any key information with them prior to departure. For residential trips – it may be worth getting the students to sign a ‘code of conduct form.