What are your strongest memories from school? For most of us, it’s not the hours of classroom study and learning from a textbook that we look back on with fond memories – it’s the excitement of school trips. Whether it’s a day out or a week abroad, educational trips give students the chance to experience life outside the school gates (and leave their uniform at home).
From visiting museums, theatres, religious centres and historical sites to going on cultural or sports-related residentials, school trips encourage young people to learn and socialise with peers in a completely different way to within the classroom, and are often the experiences they remember most.
If you’re looking for inspiration for the 2017/2018 academic year, here are five ways that school trips can benefit students.
1. Bring subjects to life
Everybody learns differently. Some students (particularly kinaesthetic learners) find it helpful to take a hands-on approach to a topic – for example, learning about different types of rock by visiting a geological site and conducting rock-based experiments. Indeed, there are few subjects that cannot be enhanced by experiencing them in real life.
An Ofsted report from March 2011 discusses the benefits of school trips for History lessons, observing that they can help students appreciate historical events from new perspectives and bring a topic to life. Learning about the Belgian battlefields in a classroom, for example, does not offer the same depth of understanding as actually going to visit the WW1 battlefields – where students can see the trenches, visit the war graves and absorb the atmosphere, in the company of expert military guides. This gives students an entirely new appreciation of the topic when they return to school, which will inform their classroom studies.
2. Boost self-confidence
The classroom can seem a formal and even stressful environment for some students, making them feel shy or unsure about asserting themselves. The idea of speaking out in front of the class can make them feel anxious, no matter what you do as a teacher to support them. Taking students out of this environment and letting them socialise in a more informal situation is a great way to develop their interpersonal skills and self-confidence.
Even the quietest students can really come out of their shell on school trips and take this newfound confidence with them back to the classroom. This can help them with everything from making new friends to improving relationships with teachers and expressing themselves in front of the class.
3. Increase motivation
If students visit a place or see an artefact up close that they have been learning about in school, they might feel more enthusiastic and confident talking about it when they return to school. There is some evidence to back this up and suggest that school trips can lead to higher achievement and increased motivation in class.
According to Ofsted’s 2008 report ‘How far should you go?’, school trips can be integral to re-engaging students who have lost motivation in school or a particular topic. Indeed, a survey by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) found that 77 percent of teachers agreed school trips helped to motivate their students. As well as helping students explore subjects in new ways, school trips can break up the school week or month, giving them a target to aim for.
4. Encourage good behaviour
Students with challenging behaviour can be difficult to manage in a classroom environment. They might show off because they’re in close proximity to their peers, or perhaps they are not interested in the topic and so cause trouble as a means of distraction or for entertainment. Whatever the reason, school trips can sometimes help to encourage better behaviour.
If students enjoy the trip, they are likely to learn without realising that they’re learning, meaning they don’t feel the need to rebel against teachers. Interacting with their teachers in a less formal environment can even help to develop a mutual respect that continues when they return to the classroom. According to the LOtC survey, 30 percent of teachers agreed that they had seen students’ behaviour improve after a school trip.
5. Broaden their horizons
School trips often allow young people to enjoy activities and places that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience. This can help them to develop personal interests and, in some cases, discover interests they didn’t know they had. For example, a school trip might later lead to a lifelong fascination with a particular sport or a certain period of art.
It can also give them the valuable opportunity to practise their learning in a way that isn’t possible in school – e.g. visiting the origin country of a language they’re learning and being able to practise their linguistic skills and absorb the culture. Going on school trips helps students gain real-world experience that cannot be taught in a classroom, opening their minds to different cultures and strengthening their knowledge of the world around them.
These are just some of the reasons why school trips can be beneficial for students. As one of our colleagues at Study Experiences says: “Our trips are designed to really ‘bring to life’ classroom learning. As well as providing educational value, we really want the students to have a hugely enjoyable experience that they’ll remember for years to come.”
To find out about organised study experiences, residentials and tours, contact us at Study Experiences for more information.