Related Links

A Q&A with… 321ski

Date Posted: 07/03/2014

Students on a ski trip with 321ski.

We spoke to Toby Weeden, a former teacher with experience in both the state and private school sectors about his school ski trip company, 321ski.

Q. Please can you tell me how 321ski was founded?

A. I founded 321ski in 2007. Being a former director of sport and housemaster, and being responsible for multiple trips throughout the academic year, I became increasingly frustrated with the biggest tour operators seemingly double-booking rooms in hotels or changing resorts for pupils at the last minute.

In a bid to guarantee trip integrity for the pupils, and after significant investment and hard work, I founded 321ski with the aim to deliver school ski trips that are both high in quality and good value.

In short, 321ski provides school trips that are based upon professional teaching standards at a quality level that other teachers would be happy to deliver themselves.

Q. Can you explain how being former teachers gives you the edge over other school ski trip providers?

A. Essentially in four different ways. Firstly, as former teachers, 321ski recognises that the sheer amount of trip planning and administration can dissuade teachers in delivering any trips that are outside the classroom.

Because of this, we provide all of the professional risk assessments and templates that any teacher will require upon booking, saving teachers hours of trip planning administration.

Secondly, 321ski risk-assess and chooses resorts and hotels based upon professional teaching standards. For example, a school with 20 Key Stage 2 children would require a very different package to a coach load of Key Stage 5 pupils.

Thirdly, 321ski are purposefully small and always create bespoke packages. One of 321ski’s aims is to select the right resort for the right school – and this goes much further than a quote request form. One of the earliest frustrations I had when I was still teaching was constantly receiving generic quotes from the biggest tour operators.

321ski

321ski reps are typically either mountain leader trained, current teachers or ski instructors. Our reps know that it is not a week for them to enjoy themselves but to provide support to the trip leader and help them to deliver a great trip.

Q. Have you had bad experiences in the past when going on ski trips as a teacher?

A. In truth, 321ski was founded as a result of problems of double-bookings and frustrations with inaccurate descriptions of hotels and resorts. In particular I remember the term ‘doorstep skiing’ was used quite loosely to describe a variety of contexts.

Q. How are ski trips particularly beneficial for children?

A. It’s important to remember that teaching and learning does not only take place in the classroom.

Links can be made with the Modern Languages Department (typically French and German in France and Austria respectively), Personal, Social and Health Education and Citizenship.

Often our schools do a Key Stage 3 or 4 project on the local area or country, much of which usually has strong historical links.

For example we have had some history A-Level pupils complete an enhanced focus on Zell am See and the area’s role in World War Two during their ski trip. Visits were organised for the evenings and staff were met in the Tourist office and surrounding buildings of historic importance.

Upon return, the school reported back that the pupils’ understanding and retention of information improved dramatically, and of course they had a great skiing time too!

Q. What kind of workshops and activities can school groups participate in?

A. The busy evening activities programme of a school ski trip is designed to complement the skiing during the day.

Typically this’ll involve at least three activities outside of the hotel, and many of our 321ski hotels boast not only ’ski in and ski out’ but also doorstep activities such as tubing and bowling.

Students on a ski trip.

Some of our hotels even have their own bowling alley, indoor volleyball courts or trampolining set ups. These in-house facilities will entertain pupils for free and so can be particularly cost-effective for the discerning school.

Alongside the obvious fun physical activities, 321ski also helps deliver language classes and local cultural excursions. Trips to the local Austrian Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) or a 'behind the scenes' tour of their chosen resort provide co-curricular opportunities alongside subjects such as GCSE German or A-Level Business Studies and Economics.

For further school trip information visit www.321ski.co.uk.

321ski also has a sister company, 321dive which provides schools with scuba dive trips to the Canaries and Egypt.

School Travel Organiser's Guide