Jake Wiid on what to look for when it comes to skiing and snowsports trips as well as the essential checks and advice about training.
For many schools, snowsport visits are seen as a holiday, but this could not be further from the truth. Of course, skiing in the beautiful Alps on fresh powder with friends sounds wonderful (and it is), but a tremendous amount of learning also takes place behind this.
There are huge benefits to undertaking a snowsport visit, such as travel, culture, resilience, physical activity, relationship building, natural environment, and broadening horizons. Consideration should definitely be given to making space in the school calendar for these visits.
When planning a school snowsport trip, there are several considerations, such as: what a good provider looks like, whether the location is appropriate for the group, as well as the skill and fitness levels of staff and students.
The OEAP National Guidance 7.1V Snowsport Visits document is a great starting point for teachers and visit leaders (oeapng.info).
Separately, here are some top tips:
- Look for a reputable provider to support you, for example one who is a member of the School Travel Forum and has positive reviews on Kaddi.com.
- Visit an artificial ski slope before travelling to get an understanding of the group’s skills and abilities.
- Check out the resort, does it have the facilities you need? Is it a reasonable travel time? What is the snow like that time of year?
- Check passport validity and visa requirements even if it is somewhere you have visited before - things can and do change.
- Ensure the visit is appropriately staffed; students can get tired, injured, and homesick, so having a floating member of staff is crucial.
- Make sure you have a code of conduct in place covering drugs and alcohol, and that you set boundaries and rules for your students, where can they go, who with, etc.
- Check suitable insurance cover is in place and covers the areas you are travelling to. Pay close attention if you are travelling to USA or Canada.
- Plan well in advance to allow parents to make payment plans, for you to get enough interest and sign off from relevant people.
- Finally, train your staff appropriately. Snowsport visits are unique and staff should be competent to lead.
Jake Wiid is an educational visits adviser for EVOLVE Advice, a service which supports schools in planning and delivering educational visits.
EVOLVE Advice has launched a new Snowsport Visits Training Course for teachers. To find out how to upskill your team and get more tips as well as training on how to lead ski visits, go to: www.snowsportvisits.co.uk