From day trips to residentials, the finalists for the 2023 ‘My Best School Trip’ Award cover experiences across Britain and continental Europe. These fantastic entries have demonstrated the value of getting children beyond the school gates.
The ‘My Best School Trip’ Award recognises outstanding educational visits, because great learning outside the classroom gives children a rich and rewarding experience, achieves a range of objectives and helps embed learning back in school.
The winning school, revealed at the School Travel Awards ceremony at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on Tuesday 6th June, 2023, was…
Langdale CE Primary School, Ambleside, Cumbria for its Key Stage 1-2 Our Place in Space trip to Liverpool
Thank you to everyone who entered. Interested in entering next time? Click here.
The finalists for the ‘My Best School Trip’ Award 2023
A shortlisted collection of entries was assessed by our judging panel and the finalists and overall winner chosen. Reading the entries was a wonderful experience yet again. So, let us celebrate all the amazing experiences that made this year’s shortlist.
Clapham and Patching CofE Primary School, Worthing, West Sussex for their KS2 trip to Camp Kingfisher at Blackland Farm (Girlguiding activity centre)
Entered by: Jemma Simmons, KS2 teacher
Much research and preparation went into organising the school’s first Camp Kingfisher experience which involved 20 pupils across Years 3-6, no mean feat considering it’s a tiny school with very low numbers (56 as of March this year). Staying at camp for two nights, children had to erect the tents themselves and got to experience various activities such as Canadian canoeing, climbing, aeroball and boulder wall.
The staff also had a a few surprises up their sleeves too including Camp Kingfishers got Talent, survival skills, water fights and more.
KS2 teacher, Jemma Simmons, who entered the school, said: “The trip was a fantastic opportunity for our children to experience situations and activities they may not have come across before, as well as encouraging independence and cultivating a range of different skills and attributes which are in line with our school values.”
Examples of how the trip underpinned the school’s core values include:
- Community - to work together and support each other by cheering those up who may have been homesick and working together to make breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Resilience - to continually try and improve and develop by experiencing activities they may not have encountered before and overcoming fears and worries.
- Integrity - to be honest and truthful at all times when they were finding being away from home hard, or if an activity was challenging.
- Respect - by valuing and accepting differences with courtesy and consideration.
- Excellence - striving to surpass their shared expectations and working together to ensure everyone achieved their best in a safe environment whilst having fun.
Children also took part in designing their own logo for camp and staff arranged for camp ‘merch’ with children receiving a t-shirt, mug and badge with the logo on. As part of a design technology project, the school designed, cut and sewed a ‘pot bag’ which was used to keep the children’s plate, cup and other items clean and tidied away after every meal.
Jemma said: “Some of our children had not stayed away from home before and were therefore naturally nervous. It was agreed that they could attend as day trippers, however by the end of the first day, they wanted to stay. Calls were made to parents to ask them to bring camping gear and tents were moved about to allow for these new campers.”
Langdale CE Primary School, Ambleside, Cumbria for its Key Stage 1-2 Our Place in Space trip to Liverpool
Entered by: Rachel Underwood, headteacher
The school took 20 children to Liverpool to take advantage of an inspirational art installation which was commissioned through the Unboxed initiative. The visit allowed them to really embrace their curriculum topic at the time which included Earth, Space and the Solar System.
Taking pupils past iconic attractions such as the Albert Dock, Tate Art Gallery, Titanic Memorial and The Beatles Story museum allowed opportunities to link previous and future topic learning across many curriculum areas including design and technology, maths, history and PSHE.
It was also seen as an “excellent opportunity for professional growth” for the trip leader, Miss Minton who Rachel said did “a sterling job of educating the children as we arrived at each planet and completed an interactive activity with everyone to keep them motivated and engaged.”
Rachel added: “The children benefited greatly from experiencing a different cultural environment by visiting the city of Liverpool. As well as the essential skills and knowledge provided by the National Curriculum, it is vitally important that our children have opportunities to expand their horizons and increase their awareness of not just their own, very special, locality, but also the wider world and its people.”
The learning actually began on the school’s journey to Liverpool; during a stop off at a service station the children had the chance to speak to British Legion representatives who further enhanced their wider curriculum learning around Remembrance. Never miss a learning opportunity!
Once in Liverpool, staff had mapped out all the opportunities along the route of the installation. “The awe and wonder etched across the children’s faces was beyond rewarding,” recalled Rachel. She added: “It was a complete contrast to where our children live and learn and we felt privileged to have enabled the children the opportunity to experience such culture. Even to this day, the children refer back to this trip with ‘Remember when….’
“This trip to Liverpool enabled our pupils to enjoy a range of cross-curricular experiences that could never be replicated in the classroom environment.”
Ridgeway Academy, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire for its Year 9 trip to Wales and Bristol
Entered by: Mike Broad, Geography subject leader
The school wanted to give Key Stage 3 students a boost with their learning before they started their geography or history GCSEs. In addition it was important to help widen their horizons, offer new experience and reward their hard work during the pandemic, during which they missed out on important social interactions.
The group stayed at the Brecon Forest Farmhouse for three nights visiting Brecon and the surrounding countryside, as well as the River Wye, Hay on Wye and Bristol throughout the residential.
Mike told us about the choice of location: “The remote farmhouse meant no phones/phone signal so a perfect rural location for climbing hills, exploring rivers and towns without the distractions and stress of modern life.”
Students also had a fantastic walk and climb up through a gorge and then jumped into the plunge pools while staff explained the formation of the waterfall so they could see all of the processes taking place in front of them.
Mike said: “There is nothing like learning about hydraulic action while sitting under a waterfall with water plunging down on top of you!”
The visit to Bristol linked to work the pupils had been undertaking on urban issues and challenges and sustainable cities. The group walked alongside the harbour from Baltic Wharf through the docklands, along the old railway line, past the SS Great Britain, cranes and gentrification near to the M-Shed and Arnolfini and into the city centre.
“Overall, if I could, I would absolutely love to have an experience like that again. Not only did I learn so much but enjoyed myself thoroughly. It’s certainly a one of a kind experience.”
Harrison, Year 9 pupil
Back at school, the students have continued to display the impact of the experience, including an increase in confidence to help their learning, as well as practising some of the life skills they learnt. Mike said: “The teamwork and communication skills are used every day in and around school leading to much more successful outcomes for everyone.”
The Royal Liberty School, Romford, for their Year 7-9 history and science trip to Belgium
Entered by: Adam Higgins, science teacher
For many of the students who went on this cross-curricular trip, booked through Halsbury, it was their first ever residential experience, having missed out on primary school trips due to the pandemic. Science teacher, Adam Higgins said he chose Belgium because of the “exciting opportunities the country offered for both science and history, plus I really wanted to bring both subjects to life and give students some real-world context to what they had been learning about in the classroom.”
The group visited the Euro Space Center in Libin, where students enjoyed a hands-on astronaut training experience and a VR simulator to experience gravity on the moon and Mars. It also meant they could find out what space travel sickness really feels like!
Travelling to Ypres, the focus shifted to World War One history with visits to the In Flanders Fields Museum, Passchendaele, Tyne Cot, and the German Cemetery at Langemark where pupils learned more about the human reality of war and what life was like in the trenches.
Adam explained: “By taking the students to see some of the memorials at Tyne Cot Cemetery of the people who trained exactly where they went to school really brought it home to them the reality of the conflict, rather than just learning about it out of the text book.”
“The science aspect was really fun, so when we got back to school it was really fun to learn about space as I was able to use the knowledge I had learned. That’s the same for history, it made learning about World War One much easier.”
Lucas, Year 7 pupil
Back at school, Adam said the space topic in Year 7 Science was a much more “accessible and realistic experience thanks to the trip” while in history students across the school looked at Remembrance Day in detail, using their experience of the Last Post ceremony to discover why the poignant tribute takes place.
By seeing the scale of the cemetery on the trip, Adam said it helped the pupils understand the amount of lives lost in World War One and cemented their understanding of why it happened.
St Ives School, Haslemere, Surrey for its Year 5/6 residential to Powys, Wales
Entered by: Nicola Smith, deputy head and humanities teacher
Staying at Cefn Lea Conference centre in Dolfor, Newtown, Wales, the school staff planned a bespoke programme of days out, tailored to the children’s curriculum, interests and abilities.
The programme involved both a full day of activities and evening entertainment with visits to multiple places including Hatton Adventure World, Blists Hill Victorian Town, Welshpool, the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, Stokesay Castle (English Heritage) and Cadbury’s World.
The experiences linked to the Year 6 ‘Work Through The Ages’ history topic and there were also links to art, science, English, drama, maths, PSHE and technology. In addition, pupils were able to experience contrasts in language and a variety of Welsh traditions.
Nicola told us: “For our children, the trip was designed to offer a wonderful, life-changing educational experience at a reasonable cost. We achieved this by using a quality, but very reasonably priced, residential centre and by keeping the organisation/ administration of the trip in house, whilst accessing a wide variety of attractions and activity providers.”
On return, the children presented an assembly about the trip to the whole school community and parents. The pupils also wrote a diary which captured the knowledge and experience gained which was woven into topics back in the classroom.
“The Wales trip opened up so many opportunities. We learnt so much and made stronger bonds with our friends.”
Year 6 pupil review
Nicola explained that part of this included the geography topic for both years being built around the trip using the fieldwork results to help plan a new development in Welshpool. They were also able to weave their history ‘Work Through the Ages’ activities throughout the topic using examples from Blists Hill and Cadbury’s.
“By the time they came to do the topics, the real-life experience from the trip had put everything into a meaningful context,” Nicola explained.
She added: “Follow up work was also done in English. The evaluation of the learning was measured through their geography topic and work on Welshpool, diary entries, and on what they were able to inject into the history topics back in the classroom. Friendships and memories of working together, and of being away from home were also good measures of the social-emotional impact.”
Thank you to everybody who took part in the 2023 ‘My Best School Trip’ Award, and congratulations to our five finalists.
Also a big thank you to this year’s judges who were:
- Peter Carne, OBE, Learning Away
- Gill Harvey, CEO, School Travel Forum
- Keeley Rodgers, editor, School Travel Organiser
- Andrew Taylor, LOtC quality badge advisor, Council for Learning Outside the Classroom
- Rob Yandell, publisher, School Travel Organiser
The winner was announced at the School Travel Awards ceremony on Tuesday 6th June at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London.