It’s often people who make the difference which is why, through the School Travel Awards, we ask you to nominate an Education / Learning Team of the Year. Here you can read about the 2023 finalists.
This award recognises a team of people at attractions and providers who have pulled out all the stops to ensure school groups have memorable experiences.
Teachers and EVCs have made their nominations and you can find out more about the shortlisted finalists below. The winner, announced at the School Travel Awards ceremony on Tuesday 6th June at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, was….
Celtic Harmony Camp, Outdoor Prehistory Settlement, Hertfordshire
The education team are experts in primitive skills such as flint knapping, friction fire lightning and archery, and lead a wide range of day trips in costume from Stone Age day to Boudicca Warrior Days. Its mission is to deliver immersive Prehistory experiences as well as improve wellbeing through an understanding of natural and ancient cultural heritage in order to build a more sustainable way of life for the future.
Celtic Harmony was set up in 1998, by Clare Holt-Parrella and Luca Parrella, and the team are celebrating their 25th birthday this year. With its thatched roundhouses and native woodland, Celtic Harmony is described as a place ‘like no other’. Children visiting are invited to rediscover the natural world and traditions of life in ancient Britain through creative hands-on activities that engage the imagination and improve wellbeing.
All of the education workshops are based on the National Curriculum and the education team tailor each school trip to the school group’s specific learning outcomes and the work they’ve been doing in the classroom. While trips are themed around Prehistory topics, many of the activities are cross-curricular, helping to improve pupil’s understanding of history, science, art and maths.
The education team coordinates school visits all the way from receiving the booking form to analysing feedback for the impact report. For every school trip, the team are dressed in full Stone or Iron Age costume to help fully immerse the pupils in ancient Britain.
Pupils really get to feel that they are stepping back in time, experiencing life as it was in Prehistory. Experiential learning aims to help pupils really understand the topic and improve their confidence through hands-on activities with visual results, such as grinding grain to make bread.
Here’s one of the comments they have received from a visiting teacher:
“We are delighted - the pupils have learned a lot and had lots of fun. We were lucky to have excellent educators who motivated the children and gave clear instructions. And they did so many activities - fantastic!”
Hannah John, Jacques Prevert, 2022
During residentials, educators organise games for the children in the evening and teach them how to build fires for outdoor cooking. Each residential is organised and led by a specific educator who will guide their group through activities for their entire trip.
The other teams shortlisted as finalists for the Education / Learning Team of the Year 2023 were from:
Children’s Adventure Farm Park Trust, Altrincham, Cheshire
Originally set up in 1985, the Children’s Adventure Farm Trust offers opportunities for children whose lives are impacted by illness, disability and social disadvantages.
The charity’s aim is to provide the opportunity for adventurous play in a countryside setting for children whose needs prevent them from accessing childhood experiences. Each year the team provide a variety of programmes for both groups of children and individual families, all of which take place at the ten acre, fully accessible site.
Its facilities include the 17th century Booth Bank Farm where children enjoy meals together and cosy up after a long day of playing. There are also accessible apartments on site with adjustable beds and fully equipped bathrooms.
There’s also the Adventure Playground with specially adapted equipment for children with limited mobility, a Sports Hall, Games Room and Music Room which has sound sensitive lighting to emphasise the sensory experience. In addition children can explore the Multi-Sensory Room, Sensory Therapy Room and UV area in which groups are encouraged to add to the experience by using body paints that glow in the dark.
In 2023, the team are on a mission to help in the region of 17,000 children by providing either residential or day visits, encouraging young people to take part in fun and memorable activities designed to challenge and entertain.
The activities will encourage them to simply be children, having fun and freedom as well as meeting new friends, growing in confidence and independence, and be shown that they have the right to aspire to a future beyond what they thought possible.
The Trust works closely with teachers and school support staff to help address the social and pastoral needs of their students. When planning residential or day visits, the team discuss the access, emotional and educational needs of their children to ensure that the experience they offer is tailored to their needs, and one which will fulfil each and every child.
They invite teachers to visit the site ahead of a visit, ensuring they are familiar with each other’s working practices and that they are working together to achieve a common goal. The staff will then work closely with teaching/support staff during their visit to ensure that they provide the best possible experience for the children.
Eden Camp Modern History Museum, North Yorkshire
Originally a prisoner of war camp, Eden Camp was built on an agricultural plot on the outskirts of Malton by Italian prisoners of war in early 1942.
It is these original huts that were purchased by local business man Stan Johnson in 1985 who invested in the restoration and then created what is said to be the world’s only Modern History Theme Museum.
Since then, through close collaboration with veterans groups, the team have created immersive displays that cover both social and military history and their archive has grown into a resource of national historical importance.
The museum remains privately within the family, passing down a generation in 2015. They have been offering school trip experiences since 1987 showing the social and civilian history side of the War as well as military.
The immersive displays at the museum bring history to life, allowing pupils to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the Home Front and the Front Line which encompasses a host of subjects and themes.
It runs themed, tailormade workshops to enhance a school group’s learning experience and has recently introduced an eco-friendly adventure play area.
Making sure a member of the team are on hand to support every educational visit from start to finish, they offer cross-curricular, self-led trips giving teachers the flexibility to tailor their experience to suit their topic and timescale.
They also offer educational resource packs so teachers can familiarise themselves with the offer and plan their school trip beforehand in order to make sure they make the most out of their visit.
Ringsfield Hall’s Education Team, Beccles, Suffolk
With a focus on allowing young people to develop the social and emotional skills to help them on their journey, Ringsfield Hall has been working with primary schools for more than 50 years.
Their aim is to allow children and young people the freedom to explore, play and develop within the natural world; escaping the modern trappings of technology and social media to enter a space of imagination and adventure.
Ringsfield Hall itself is a 55-bed country house and farm, based in biodiverse woodland and meadows within the Suffolk countryside.
They provide day and residential opportunities for children and families from all areas, inclusive of cities, rural communities and areas of deprivation, support individuals suffering from physical and mental health issues, by providing nature based experiences and foster the importance of healthy eating and active lifestyles, and their impact on health and well-being.
The team also work to highlight the urgent need to learn and commit to sustainable living and our responsibility to look after the world, as well as provide people with the opportunity to build resilience, discover more about who they are, and encourage development of their spirituality.
For the best results, they ask schools for exactly what they want, often visiting them and meeting students and parents prior to a residential to allow the children to meet the staff, ask questions and get some reassurance.
Through all of Ringsfield’s activities, there are key underlying themes of environmental and climate education, developing growth mindsets and working together to achieve. Programmes are developed in such a way that embedded learning of key issues and concepts is at the core of everything.
Whatever the content of the programme, the education team aims to provide the right balance of challenge, support, learning and fun.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park Education Team, Doncaster
There has been an education team in place since Yorkshire Wildlife Park opened in 2009. Initially a small farm attraction, the park is now a dynamic centre for conservation and welfare as well as being home to more than 400 animals with over 70 species.
The education team aims is to inspire children and adults to develop a respect, awe and appreciation for all animals and our natural environment, and to positively influence guest behaviour.
To aid teachers with planning, they offer free pre-visits with the opportunity to meet the education team, as well as Teacher Open Mornings, showcasing what is on offer with the chance to enter competitions for free school trips / sessions.
The team teach formal ‘hands-on’ education sessions on site from nursery aged children up to university level and these take place throughout the school year in the purpose-built education building and in the outdoor woodland classroom.
These sessions are all National Curriculum / exam syllabi linked offering opportunities for cross-curricular learning. Subjects range from animal topics through to marketing & customer service.
In addition, they offer outreach and virtual programmes including various topics such as Bear Necessities sessions that focus on climate change and careers-based areas.
They are part of the STEM network and so offer free workshops through this and run assemblies on behalf of The Wildlife Foundation.
The team also run Ranger Academy courses providing pupils aged 11 plus with the chance to gain knowledge / skills of what it is like to have a career in the animal industry. The courses include an advanced course working with the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.
About the School Travel Awards
The winners were revealed at the School Travel Awards ceremony on Tuesday 6th June at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London.
Organised by School Travel Organiser magazine, the School Travel Awards are an important annual initiative celebrating learning outside the classroom, that raises the profile and highlights the importance of school trips for children - with exciting opportunities for schools to also win big prizes.
To find out more click to schooltravelorganiser.com/awards.
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