Jamie Kelly of Chantry Primary Academy won the School Trip Champion Award in 2019, but due to the pandemic, was unable to take his class out on their prize trip until this year. 

Chantry pupils outside the Lyceum Theatre

The children had the most memorable time in the West End with one group watching The Lion King and the other seeing Matilda the Musical

I was over the moon to be the recipient of the School Trip Champion Award and was incredibly excited that our school was awarded £1,500 to spend on a future trip.

We were lucky enough to be able to travel to the West End to give a group of pupils their first ever theatre experience: a group of Year 5 pupils watched The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre whilst Year 6 pupils were treated to Matilda the Musical at the Cambridge Theatre.

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We travelled into London by train, which in itself, was an experience for the majority of the pupils, as only a handful had been on a train before and even less had visited London.

The walk through the streets of Covent Garden was a far cry from the streets of Luton - seeing the street entertainers perform was certainly an entertaining experience!

Chantry pupils on the London Underground

For many of the children, it was their first ever time on the tube and first trip to London. 

Once at the theatre, I was asked on more than one occasion, ‘when the film would start’ (cue another explanation that the children would be seeing actual actors standing in front of them) and as we had obtained very good seats in the stalls, I knew that the children would be very close to the action indeed.

From the very first moment of each production, the children were transfixed, I’ve never seen so many open mouths.

They were completely absorbed with the wonderful actors, the catchy songs, the amazing scenery, props and the overall magic of the experience. Being within arm’s reach of Miss Trunchball and Simba was nothing short of amazing.

The children had the most memorable time, and for so many of them, it was a truly once in a lifetime experience.

When the shows had finished, there were so many wonderful comments from the children, including: “This was the best day ever!”, “I couldn’t believe we were so close to the actors”, “Miss Trunchball was awesome and terrifying at the same time!”, and “I saw The Lion King movie at home but this was so much better”.

School Travel Awards 2019/20

Jamie Kelly, deputy headteacher of Chantry Primary Academy in Luton was crowned School Trip Champion for 2019/20.

Being able to expose the children to the theatre wasn’t just an enjoyable experience – it helped with developing new skills too.

Learning the protocols of not talking, applauding at appropriate moments, sitting, and focusing etc. (not to mention coping without digital devices) were key attributes that it was fantastic to see the children managing so well with. I’m hopeful it inspired a love of live performance that will stay with the children into adulthood, encouraging the children to see theatre as a cultural experience that is open to everyone, regardless of background, financial status or ability.

The biggest thank you must go to School Travel Organiser for making these opportunities possible. You’ve helped in creating some lifelong memories for our pupils.

To find out more about the award which comes with a £1,500 prize, click to schooltravelorganiser.com/champion.