School Trip Champion Finalists

After more than four months of nominations, the four finalists of the first ever School Trip Champion Award have been confirmed. Now it’s your chance to vote for the winner.

Update: Chris Jesson, Head of Geography at Gravesend Grammar School, Kent was awarded his special accolade in November 2016. Chris said he was “pretty overwhelmed by the whole process” and was presented with his award in front of 300 people by news broadcaster and presenter, Fiona Bruce.

The School Trip Champion Award is set to be one of the highlights of the School Travel Awards. It’s been designed to recognise an individual who goes above and beyond when it comes to delivering school trips and learning outside the classroom opportunities.

Nominations were made by everyone from colleagues and pupils to school trip suppliers, and a shortlist of four finalists was drawn up by the School Travel Organiser team after carefully considering the information provided.

If you think one of our four finalists deserves to win the accolade, which comes with a £1,000 prize for the winner’s school to spend on a school trip of their choice, vote for them. Back up your vote by explaining – in no more than 50 words – why you’ve chosen them.

Meet the finalists

Becky Baldwin

Becky Baldwin, Outdoor Learning Coordinator and EVC for Castle Manor Academy, Suffolk

Becky not only oversees all trips at Castle Manor Academy but also provides training, sources funding and promotes all learning outside the classroom events. Before Becky started in her role, some of the school’s pupils had never been on a school trip and she has addressed that and changed school policy to ensure that all students receive the benefits of LOtC.

She has led everything from trips to the Birmingham Big Bang Fair to overnight camping residentials.

Becky said: “When teachers take students on trips they share a great experience. The barriers of the classroom are removed and all students have the chance to shine. The student that struggles in the classroom becomes a responsible leader, the student who misbehaves in class makes you proud by how they act within the community, the anxious student takes risks, the lonely student makes a new group of friends and the stressed teacher feels energised and relaxed forming more positive relationships with students.

“For the entirety of the trip everybody has fun and learns more together than is measurable. Everyone is more engaged back in the classroom because they’ve been learning through real life experiences.

“Who wouldn’t love my job? To be able to support teachers and students to love learning by getting them out and about. There’s great value learning inside the classroom but for me it’s all about getting out in the real world. School trips should not be one off experiences, they should be embedded into the school curriculum, using school grounds and the local community as well as further afield if affordable, accessible to all.” 

Jason Holt

Jason Holt, Head of Outdoor Pursuits, Warminster School, Wiltshire

Jason joined Warminster School in 2012 and has been organising learning outside the classroom opportunities ever since. He’s arranged everything from battlefield tours to UK-based bushcraft trips and from community and wildlife project trips to Tanzania to marine conservation visits to Cuba. Also included in

Jason’s remit is bronze DofE expeditions and gold DofE kayak expeditions.

In addition to this, Jason established a forest school at Warminster, which is used by all pupils at the school.

Jason said: “I am fortunate to be able to take pupils and teachers out of their comfort zone and out of the classroom in order to experience outdoor life in various activities. I run numerous activities within the school and take different trips throughout the course of the year

“My role enables me to set up and organise such events and also to make use of the forest school that I have recently established with the various year groups from both the Nursery and Prep School, right up to our Sixth Form students.

“This facility has not only allowed the usual forest school activities to take place, but also allows the teaching staff to think outside the box and use the forest to combine the educational syllabus in a fun and different learning environment.” 

Chris Jesson

Chris Jesson, Head of Geography at Gravesend Grammar School, Kent

Chris established the bronze and silver levels of the Duke of Edinburgh Award at Gravesend Grammar School and today he’s involved in the organisation and leadership of a range of school trips that span the Key Stages at the school.

During the past three years he’s run, organised or participated in everything from six four-day residentials in Iceland for Year 10 and 11 pupils and a Year 7 summer camp for 70 pupils at Broadstone Warren, to a four-week expedition to Bolivia and Peru and a Business and Economics trip to New York.

Geography field trips closer to home are his most common activity, though, and his role as head of Geography sees him taking pupils to places like the River Derwent, the Olympic Park, the Isle of Arran, Juniper Hall and Shrewsbury on a regular basis. 

Chris said: “Being a Geography teacher, it’s great to get out there and see all the theories we study in real life, but more importantly it’s a chance for students to be taken out of their comfort zone and really push themselves to see what they can achieve.”

“Whether it’s working in different groups, making new friends or even as simple as surviving away from home for a night, students benefit from learning outside the classroom in so many ways.

“Getting to know students outside the classroom can be equally rewarding for teachers to see students in a completely different light and that relationship often benefits when coming back to school.

Giving students these opportunities is definitely one of the perks of the job and who doesn’t love travelling round the country, and the world, and learning new things yourself?”

Kathryn Leigh

Kathryn Leigh, Key Stage 2 Teacher, Northrepps Primary School, Norfolk

Kathryn teaches children from the ages of seven to 11. On any given day Kathryn’s pupils can be found learning Maths in the playground by becoming human clocks, throwing objects on the field to measure distance, or trying their hand at parkour to learn about risk assessments.

In the past year, Kathryn has organised fortnightly trips to Mighty Mun – a local conservation and river area – set up ‘missions’ for her pupils at Langham Dome in order to teach them about World War Two, led a trip to the local windfarm to give her class an insight into careers and industry, and led a residential at Brancaster National Trust activity centre.

Other learning outside the classroom activities have included a tour of the healthy foods section at Morrisons, habitat studies at Cley Marshes and the storming of the local beach to teach about Anglo Saxons.

Kathryn said: “Through each subject or topic I teach, I aim to always bring learning to life and to make each experience both in school and outside of school as memorable and engaging as possible.

“By visiting alternative locations, I believe children are able to take on more experiences and hence learn more effectively. By using outdoor space and exploring local areas, the children are more able to understand their place in the wider world whilst taking on key skills and knowledge. I am a firm believer that this is crucial for all young people not just a small proportion in a local village school.”