Teachers and parents alike tend to share the view that learning outside the classroom is a great way to improve a student’s knowledge and understanding of their subjects. Sure, the fundamentals of any subject can be studiously examined and dissected in the classroom, but for a real world view of how evolution shapes every animal on Earth, a physical realisation of the extent of the horrors of WWII concentration camps or a live performance of King Lear that breathes life into those dusty Shakespearian texts, the school trip is an essential part of education.
For kids, school trips are equally lauded, but not necessarily for the same reasons. Instead, for many students a trip away from the classroom means a chance to get away from the eagle eyes of their teachers and have some fun. The trick is to find school trips that will cater to kids’ inherent desire for fun and excitement while sneakily illuminating their studies and teaching them a thing or two in the process.
Here are a couple of examples of trips sure to excite and educate in equal measure.
A trip to @Bristol is a great opportunity to bring science to life. Concepts like heat transfer and entropy may be hard to grasp in the classroom, but interactive exhibits where kids can see the effects of forces or observe the movement of the planets are a fantastic way of bringing learning to life. There’s also the ‘Wildwalk’ urban rainforest where kids can stroll through tropical gardens learning about the live animals they encounter on the way, including free flying birds and butterflies.
What they’ll learn: Pretty much anything you could want to teach them about science. @Bristol has on-going exhibitions and workshops that deal with a huge range of subjects, and there’s even a real brain to have a play around with.
The Globe Theatre, London
The Globe in London is an amazing re-construction of a typical Elizabethan theatre and the perfect venue to help bring English or Drama texts to life. As well as the opportunity to learn more about the construction of the theatre itself and England during Shakespeare’s time, visitors can enjoy one of the bard’s plays in a traditional setting. Renowned for incredible and ground-breaking performances, Shakespeare at the Globe is the perfect way for students to gain a deeper understanding of the playwrights work.
What they’ll learn: A far greater understanding of Shakespeare’s work than can be gleaned from the texts alone, along with a good deal of historical background that’s bound to further their appreciation of one of the world’s finest playwrights.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award
Not exactly a school trip as such, but The Duke Of Edinburgh Award scheme is a fantastic chance for school kids to develop important life skills as well as demonstrating abilities and a work ethic that will definitely look good on a future CV. The award can be started by kids as young as 14 and is split into sections including skills, physical, volunteering and expedition. Each section offers the chance to learn different skills, and the program is definitely a big commitment with 3 months of volunteering needed for the bronze award alone.
What they’ll learn: The expedition will teach them about teamwork, organisation and orienteering, the physical and skills parts will allow them to try their hand at a range of activities that could inspire a future career from rock climbing to website design. Plus who knows, the volunteering section may just teach them a little humility and altruism!
The Imperial War Museums (London, Cambridge, Manchester)
While clearly not a good thing, there is something about war that fascinates kids. Whether it’s running round the playground using sticks for guns, or re-creating famous battles using toy soldiers, there’s no getting away from the fact that war is pretty ‘cool’ in kids’ eyes. So a trip to one of the UK’s Imperial War Museums is sure to go down well, but should also help bring home the stark realities behind some of the battles that have shaped history. From sitting down to hear real-life accounts from a British war veteran to the genuinely scary trench experience, the Imperial War Museums may just give students a whole new perspective on armed conflict.
What they’ll learn: Students will learn loads about pretty much any war Britain has been involved in, and as these conflicts have consistently shaped the history of our nation, a trip to the IWM will be invaluable for history students. Also, war is hell.
Language Camps Abroad
For kids trying to grapple with a foreign language, there really is no substitute for total immersion in a country’s culture. A week-long trip to France or Spain will work wonders for their pronunciation and language skills and may even renew their interest in the country as a whole after a year of painfully trying to conjugate verbs in the past tense. A summer camp in France where kids can spend some of their time brushing up on their language skills while also trying their hands at adventure sports like rock climbing and rafting is a great carrot-and-stick approach that should ensure they return to the UK happy, better equipped for their exams and maybe just a little more cultured.
What they’ll learn: A huge amount about the language they’re learning, self-reliance and organisation and an appreciation for fine cheeses.
Biog: Lalage loved her school trips when she was a lass, and can thank her summer camp in France for a life-long love of quality cuisine!