Research has demonstrated that school field trips to cultural institutions have notable benefits. 'Students randomly assigned to receive a school tour of an art museum experience improvements in their knowledge of and ability to think critically about art, display stronger historical empathy, develop higher tolerance, and are more likely to visit such cultural institutions as art museums in the future’. The Educational Value of Fieldtrips, https://www.educationnext.org/the-educational-value-of-field-trips/, 2013
This research also highlighted that young people from more vulnerable and rural backgrounds could benefit the most from such visits.
So why not build such visits as being integral to your curriculum delivery? For many, especially those beginning their careers in teaching, this could be a daunting prospect, however, there is help and guidance available to support you through the process. So let us explore what is out there and how we can plan for such visits effectively.
1. Educational/Off-site Visits Co-ordinators. (EVC/OVC)
The DfE recommend that every school should have a trained Educational Visits Co-ordinator. These school-based staff will be able to support and guide you through the planning process and ensure that such planning follows your employer guidelines.
2. What is your intent?
Be clear about your aims and objectives, what do you want the outcome (impact) to be? This will very much drive your planning and we know, from experience, make the whole visit safer! How will you know the visit has delivered the outcomes you desire? It is worth thinking about this early on.
3. Research your visit
Build your plan for the visit, will it be to a single location/provider? Will it be led by yourself and other staff or will you use provider staff? Does the provider have the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) Quality Badge? Have you looked through the website? Gauged any feedback from staff/schools who may already have been. If you have access to the EVOLVE visit planning system then you could access Kaddi, that can not only suggest places to go but has feedback from schools on providers.
Before planning becomes too detailed you will need to think about obtaining permission or outline approval to undertake the visit. This may well be verbal permission from the Head/Principal or Head of Department or through a visit planning tool such as EVOLVE. You may need to have an idea about dates and time, staffing requirements, pupil and staff needs and transport, for example. Make sure you know the deadlines for gaining final approval for the visit.
Let the planning begin - Once you have the green light the work can begin. The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel have a useful checklist for Visit Leaders on the National Guidance website.
5. Site visit
A site visit, as part of the planning process, is highly recommended, not only to talk to providers about your particular requirements and outcomes but to help you organise your day from lunch and toilet breaks to accessibility issues. Our Nottingham providers will welcome any discussion about your visit. You may want to organise specific provider led sessions or research your own programme for the day. If the provider does not hold the CLOtC Quality Badge ask them to complete a Provider or OV2 form. Talk to your EVC about this.
6. Pupils and Parents
There are huge benefits from engaging both pupils and parents at an early stage. Is there any way in which pupils can help with the planning? Ensure they are prepared for the day and understand the reason for the visit. Discuss behaviour considerations. Information to parents on the visits will be integral to your planning. Your school may have a template letter to parents to use, talk to your EVC.
Make sure you are happy with the staffing levels you require. Consider the confidence and competence of the staff you are bringing, the activities you are undertaking and the location they are taking place in. Ensure the needs of the group are met, including dietary and medical requirements. There are no defined ratios of staff to pupils, unless you are working in early years settings. A briefing for all staff prior to the visit is essential so that everyone is clear on their roles, it can also inform the risk management process.
Taking public transport can add to the ‘life experience’ for young people but needs focused planning. Be clear with your timings for both arrival at the venue and your departure.
Did you know that Nottingham City Schools can travel for free to events or activities using Nottingham City Transport? Applications are made through the Aquinas Foundation.at least one week in advance by email to to the Aquinas Foundation: firstname.lastname@example.org
9. Visit management
All of this preparation will feed into how you will manage the visit on the day. This will inform your risk management planning that will include the consideration of other issues such as first aid cover, alternative options and what to do if an emergency arises. There may be a need to consider any current infection control requirements. Once again, your EVC can help and will guide you to any risk management documents and planning you need to complete.
10. And when it’s all over!
Review and evaluate your visit. Ensure that pupils have every opportunity to follow up the work back in school. Did it have an impact?
Educational visits, when planned well, ‘ignite imaginations, stimulate curiosity and deepen understanding in ways which are meaningful, relevant and are often remembered for a lifetime.’ Show.Me, http://www.show.me.uk/
School visits ‘have clear benefits for pupils, and large numbers of successful visits and outdoor learning activities take place each year . The Health and Safety Executive fully supports schools arranging a wide range of out-of-school activities, which can include visits to museums, trips to the countryside or taking part in challenging and adventurous activities.’ (School Trips and Outdoor Learning Activities: Tackling the health and safety myths, 2011, Health and Safety Executive)