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Teacher Talk: Alex Dyer, Tutor House

Date Posted: 12/07/2014

Alex Dyer, founder and director of Tutor House, has taught for nine years across KS3 and KS4, and higher levels including GCSE, A-Level and undergraduate.

Tutor House is a London-based private tutor agency, providing supplementary tuition in all academic and vocational subjects for common entrance, GCSE and A-Level exams, plus specialist educational support, including dyslexia.

Q: What school trips have you organised previously?

A: I’ve been involved in organising lots of trips. During my time as a teacher I have facilitated and carried out a number of trips across various aspects of the curriculum from Science, Biology, Psychology and PE. I have also arranged four successful ski trips, which were a really enjoyable experience for the children. Such trips have also included local walks, visits to neighbouring schools and field trips. The size of group has varied from trip to trip - sometimes there are small parties of five to six children, and other times there are year groups of 45 children.

Q: How much time do you spend preparing for a trip?

A: Depending on the nature of the trip and the number of attendees, the length of time taken to organise it will vary. I always consider the following factors: health and safety of all those attending through risk assessments, plus the location and what dangers there may be. Furthermore, I will also look at what learning opportunities it will provide, transportation, the number of staff, the day’s timings and of course parental consent. Many locations are accustomed to visiting schools and often provide well organised learning opportunities tailored to meeting the needs of individual schools and the curriculum - which is always welcome!

Q: How do you decide where to go, and what are your main criteria?

A: Firstly, I will look to address the purpose of the trip and what learning outcomes and experiences the children will obtain. I will also look for opportunities to engage with the environment, participate in outdoor activities, and more generally to have fun.

Q: Could you describe some of the main challenges?

A: Finding new and exciting places that challenge the children so that they are out of their comfort zone. Additionally, it can also prove difficult to confirm parental consent for attendance on such trips, with parents sometimes forgetting or returning consent forms later than expected. This can take ages, and is often last minute.

Q: Do you think attractions could do more to encourage teachers to take their pupils on visits?

A: Yes, more attractions could offer tailored educational experiences specific to what the school is looking for and their learning objectives, rather than having generic tours.

Q: What’s been your favourite trip destination?

A: Each venue provides a unique experience. However for me, visiting Bude was a highlight. Our accommodation was right on a beach and children had the opportunity to surf each day, taking lessons, which was an amazing experience.

Q: What advice would you share with other trip organisers who may have concerns?

A: Ensure that you make a well thought out schedule and try to stick to it as much as possible. Organisation by teachers and parents to the place of visit is key. This will help in the running of a smooth trip which will result in an enjoyable experience for all.

Q: What are the main advantages of learning outside the classroom?

A: These are real life experiences which are very different to the monitory place of the classroom - the advantages are huge.

Q: How have you seen pupils flourish as a result of a trip?

A: Confidence and self-belief are two positive results of school trips which help hugely with participation in classroom activities. This has a massive impact on their social development as trips are a great way for children to really express their individual personalities.

Thinking of arranging a school trip to Cornwall?

Alex highlights Bude in north Cornwall as one of his favourite trip destinations. With some of the country’s best surfing beaches and a spectacular coastline, Bude offers a host of inspiring options for pupils to dip their toe into watersports for the first time or hone their skills.

While Alex focused on surfing for his school trip, Bude sits on the doorstep of Devon and is perfectly placed to take in land-based attractions and day trips in both counties. These include the timeless village of Clovelly with its cobbled streets, and Newquay Zoo - the largest in Cornwall.

If you’re planning a longer trip to Cornwall, highlights to include on your educational itinerary can include the Eden Project - housing over one million plants and providing a living classroom in every sense - and the National Maritime Museum - charting the region’s rich seafaring heritage.

School Travel Organiser's Guide