10 school trip ideas: outdoor visits

Date Posted: 06/06/2013

Child at Butterfly World.

Pictured: Butterfly World is home to over 600 butterflies.

Struggling with trying to find outdoor school trips? Well look no further as we help you get your class out in the fresh air.

1. Butterfly World

Home to over 600 butterflies including the Blue Morpho and majestic Monarch, 60 species can be found at Butterfly World in St Albans, from rainforests all over the world. Students can see tiny eggs, pupae and caterpillars, and watch as butterflies emerge from their pupae.

Younger children can run wild in the Natural Play Area, imagine life as an insect in the ‘Through the Flower Pot Garden’ or handle a variety of ‘mini beasts’ in the Insect Study Centre. School group discounts are available.

2. Chester Zoo

Showcasing innovative exhibits like the recent Dinosaurs Bite Back!, Chester Zoo is a venue to please students of all ages. And with a record baby boom this spring (the biggest in the zoo’s 80-year history) including elephants, orang-utans, a black rhino and a giant anteater, there is sure to be a number of cute critters to admire over the next few months.

The zoo’s Discovery and Learning team has put together a host of hands-on learning activities through classroom sessions in Science, Psychology, Business Studies, Leisure and Tourism (BSLT). The team also puts on animal talks at the zoo enclosures and exhibitions.

There’s educational material everywhere in the zoo, and for all ages – from anecdotes about the animals to confiscated animal biofacts borrowed from HM Customs, or the virtual storm the zoo has created in the Realm of the Red Ape.

If you want to book one of the zoo’s educational workshops, then you must do this in advance of your school’s visit.

3. Westonbirt Arboretum

The extensive tree collection at the National Arboretum at Westonbirt in Gloucestershire, provides a perfect opportunity for school trips to learn about trees and the environment.

Zoo Babies at Chester Zoo.

Led by experienced staff, each programme at the arboretum enables students to explore Westonbirt's global tree collection and discover more about the science of trees and forests, woodland ecology and the natural art of Westonbirt's landscape.

4. The Donkey Sanctuary

A visit to the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth in Devon can include a tour of the facility, grooming and walking a donkey, plus interactive sessions including crafts and games in its all-weather space. The sanctuary is open 365 days a year, and offers free admission and parking.
Children can also learn how the sanctuary keeps the donkeys healthy and all about the work of the veterinary, dentistry and farrier team.

5. Adventure Britain

Adventure Britain, based in the Brecon Beacons National Park, offers outdoor activity days suitable for school groups of all ages and abilities.

Pupils can have a go at caving, climbing, gorge walking, canoeing, mountain walking and kayaking. In particular, the area boasts some of the best caving in the UK (children must be over six).

Gorge walking (suitable for children of eight and over) is a particularly high adrenalin activity, consisting of tobogganing down rapids, walking under and jumping off spectacular waterfalls.

Adventure Britain is licensed with the Adventure Activities Licensing Service to deliver activities to children under the age of 18.

6. London Duck Tours

Once used in the D-Day landings in 1944, the amphibious vehicles from London Duck Tours take your class on a driving tour past famous London landmarks such as Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square before a dramatic launch into the river Thames. 

The tour lasts about 75 minutes, with approximately 30 minutes on the river, and can be adapted to suit different educational needs and age groups.

Commentary by London Ducks’ tour guides provides an alternative and insightful view of London's history, plus facts and figures about the original D-Day vehicles themselves.

A flying display at the Hawk Conservancy Trust.

Pictured: A flying display at the Hawk Conservancy Trust.

London Duck Tours recommend booking a tour in advance.

7. Cotswold Wildlife Park

Cotswold Wildlife Park based in Oxfordshire promises a school visit with animals galore. Watch rhinos and zebras graze on the lawns in front of the manor house; walk up the giraffe walkway and get eye-to-eye with the long-necked creatures; or explore the walled garden’s Tropical House with free roaming sloth, birds and bats.

Other activities include watching the penguin’s being fed and getting up close with the lemurs in their free-roaming Madagascar exhibit. Younger pupils can take a ride on Bella the Train or discover the farmyard, which has a goat petting area, guinea pigs, rabbits and other farm animals.

8. Splash White Water Rafting

Splash Rafting in Perthshire, Scotland provides a range of adventure activities to suit pupils aged eight years plus. White water rafting runs on the river Tay and the river Tummel can be combined with other adventure activities such as canyoning, duckies, mountain biking, paintball, river bugging, quad bikes, clay pigeon shooting, and abseiling.

Splash White Water Rafting has a range of accommodation options for school groups. Teachers can choose to be self-contained in one of its four Adventure Lodges on a self-catering or catered basis, or have the option of a hotel right next to its rafting centre that can cater for 50 on an exclusive basis.

9. The Hawk Conservancy Trust

The Hawk Conservancy Trust in Hampshire is a visitor centre and bird of prey conservation charity set in 22 acres of woodland and wildflower meadow.

There are over 150 birds of prey on view, from the tiny Pygmy Owl to the Steller’s Sea Eagle. Schools can watch daily demonstrations where all kinds of birds including owls, kites, hawks, falcons, vultures and eagles show off their free-flying skills.

Children on a visit to a WWT Wetland Centre.

PIctured: Pupils can hand feed ducks and geese as part of a trip to a WWT Wetland Centre.

Pupils can also visit the National Bird of Prey Hospital on site, and learn about its rehabilitation work, where over 200 sick, injured or orphaned raptors are treated each year.

10. WWT Wetland Centres

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) has Wetland Centres across the UK that can cater for a school trip, each centre boasting a bevy of birds and wildlife - from flamingos, ducks, geese and swans to otters, cranes, frogs and newts.

Pupils can hand feed ducks and geese, see wild swans up close, glide along one of the Wetland’s watery worlds in a canoe or boat, or go on a mini-beast hunt, and discover what creatures lurk in the water on a pond-dipping session.

Each individual WWT centre offers activities for groups on a school visit, including guided learning sessions outdoors, suitable for a range of ages and abilities. For further information, and a selection of online learning resources for teachers, visit the WWT website.

School Travel Organiser's Guide