British Museum, Great Court, credit Nigel Young

It was recently reported by an Education Policy Institute study that disadvantaged children are two years behind their classmates; in response, we suggest ways in which schools can help prevent this.

Although this factor may be caused by a number of things, the idea of expensive school trips may be some parents’ idea of a nightmare.
With the importance of learning outside of the classroom being promoted much more widely, the thought of then having to pay extortionate amounts for children to access this type of learning can often seem unfair.

Therefore we’ve highlighted some suggestions that teachers might like to consider when thinking about school trips, that won’t break the school’s bank and won’t leave parents emptying their purses and wallets.

Free attractions

A number of museums offer free entry and it’s worth looking around your own town/city at what’s on offer. Often towns have their own dedicated museum which can offer cheap or sometimes free entry, offering an ideal way for pupils to learn about the place they live, in turn supporting studies in Local History.

London poses as a great choice for a school trip as, although travel costs may need to be covered, there are numerous museums dotted around the city, of which many offer free admission.

/Horniman Museum Natural History

Pictured: Horniman Museum Natural History (Photo credit: Horniman Museum and Gardens).

The Natural History Museum can be linked to History, Science and Geography and has recently opened a new exhibition called Whales: Beneath the Surface. This exhibition does have a cost, however entry to the museum itself is free. There are also workshops and activity sessions available for schools. 

The Science Museum is another museum with free admission. There are also free resources available on the museum website. This museum is a great way for teachers to get their pupils interested and excited by Science.

Other attractions such as zoos will have an educational offering of some kind, and it’s always best to do your research as to what you can get for free. Chester Zoo has recently announced that it will be offering schools free entry between November and February 2018. The zoo offers workshops that can link in with the Science and Geography curriculum.

Attractions with free downloadable resources

There are many attractions that offer schools free learning resources which can be used before, during and after visits. Rather than spending more money on sessions, these resources allow teachers to give self-led visits which could result in a cheaper trip.

The London Bridge Experience and London Tombs has recently launched new educational packs which can be downloaded prior to a visit. These packs help pupils get the most out of a visit and are free to use. It also means you can plan your lessons around the visit, making the trip all the more worth it.

The Emirates Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth also offers downloadable packs to aid visits. The new resources - Terrific Towers, Head in the Clouds and Changing Coastlines - will enable teachers to highlight key points in the Geography, English and Maths curriculum when visiting the tower.

Using nature and the local environment

Compton Verney Forest school

Pictured: Forest School at Compton Verney.

Parks, forests and countryside are ideal places to take children outside of the classroom, with (usually) no added cost. If you take a look at your local area, you’ll be surprised at how many locations could double as an outside classroom for your pupils.

The Forest Schools programme is highly recommended for those teachers who want to give their pupils regular experiences with nature. Through the programme, teachers and teaching assistants can train to become a Forest School leader or ambassador which means they are qualified to lead their classes in Forest School workshops.

Often these workshops involve using natural materials found in the woods to create things, as well as making camp fires, wigwams and building teamwork.

English Heritage offers free self-led tours for schools at a number of its historical locations, when pre-booked. With so many properties owned by English Heritage there is plenty to choose from when deciding where to take your class.

Lead image: British Museum. (Photo credit: Nigel Young).