A Capri Sun and a large Yorkie bar. Maybe even with a packet of Flaming Beef Monster Munch. That’s one of the best things I remember from school trips. I always had packed lunch at school, carefully curated by my doting mother to ensure that a) I would eat it, but b) there was a well balanced and nutritious experience waiting for me within Batman’s box of wonders.

When school trips rolled around however, that went out the window. It’s one of those memories that has stuck with. I suppose it’s because it was the only time really that I had the freedom to choose food in such a way. Funny the things you remember from your school days.

I think that trips differ for the Primary and Secondary sectors. For Primary it is often a desire to show kids that the things we learn about really exist, a Roman bathhouse, The Golden Hind etc. For Secondary students it’s more about evoking and nurturing personal emotions and experiences. When asking teachers on Twitter what their memories of trips were many referred to battlefields, memorials and Auschwitz. These pieces of human history often need to be seen to be believed. For many families they simply can’t do that themselves so schools become that vehicle.

That’s not to say Primary sector children don’t learn from their trips or that they don’t have feelings about them. But I would argue that for many the jaw dropping moment they see the giant blue whale in The Natural History museum is the part they remember and maybe will forever.  Not how many meters long it’s tail is. And that’s ok. Lighting a flame of interest, a knot of excitement and a bubble of intrigue is integral I feel for a successful school trip.

During my Secondary school days trips were banned. Some hogwash about somebody’s mum suing the school when her little darling had tripped over a curb in London or some other farcical explanation. It denied my friends and I many years of visiting the exciting corners of Southern England. I still feel annoyed at it but I was lucky. My parents happily took me off to see these places myself, HMS Victory, The Tower of London and working farms. For some of our children, and this we must not forget, school may be the first and only time in their lives they visit a museum, wander through an art gallery, or see something older than their Grandparents.

Trips, nay trips is too insignificant a word, adventures are good for the soul, good for learning and good for relationships. One of my Twitter respondents said the best thing about trips was seeing their teacher in jeans! There’s some truth in that. The horror on some of their faces when they see you don’t wake up in a shirt and tie.

So fight for them, defend them and try not to take them anywhere where they’ll be spoken at by someone that makes Simon Cowell look like Father Christmas. It will be worth it.

To finish off, some unwritten rules of a Primary school trip.

  1. You will tell them all to bring a packed lunch. They will not all bring a packed lunch.
  2. Or a coat.
  3. Or a water bottle.
  4. To be honest if they’ve all turned up in school uniform, be grateful.
  5. For the kids who’s parents are helping they will feel like they’ve just brought Zac Efron into class.
  6. For the parent they will be feeling like you’ve just brought 30 pit-bulls to them.
  7. Someone will need to pee on the coach (even though there’s no toilet).
  8. Some, (read lots) will be sick just as the coach breaks and a tsunami wave of sicky coco pops will wash towards everyone’s coats with screams reminiscent of The Titanic sinking.
  9. You will say ‘stand by your adult’ 674 times. Most will, some will still be searching like a hawk for their saviour even if they are 6 foot 4, wearing a luminous jacket and in fact their own parent.
  10. You’ll hand out the high vis coats, the well behaved parents will wear them, the trendy will tie them to their bag. This is probably reflective of their own behaviour in school.
  11. Kids will ask to eat their lunch as soon as you arrive. Despite it being 9:45.
  12. Having run around a maze for an hour they will then ask for a playtime.
  13. It will piss it down, it always pisses it down.
  14. You will head count upon departure, head count again and give your colleagues a nod (mainly to ensure you all share the blame if you’ve forgotten someone).
  15. By the time you reach home you’re convinced you have, have drafted your resignation letter and are preparing to move to Wales to raise sheep.
  16. It is bloody hard work, takes reams of paper work to get off the ground and are exhausting but at the end of the day almost all of them are bloody great!

My name is Ben King and I’ve been teaching for nearly ten years. I’ve worked in schools across England and the Middle East and I am currently reading lead for 4, 5 and 6 in school in West Sussex as well as teaching in year 5. I’m studying for an MA in Educational Leadership, review children’s literature for just imagine story centre and am in the process of starting a brand new teacher orientated book awards.

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