Read about our 2022 finalists for this category, which provides an opportunity for schools to win £1,500 towards a future trip.

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.

Thank you to all those teachers and educational visit coordinators who entered this year’s ‘My Best School Trip’ Award – we know you’re busy and that we live in even more demanding times than usual. 

The winner will be announced at the lunch and ceremony in London on 25th May and the winning school will get to spend £1,500 on or towards a future trip.

 

The finalists for the ‘My Best School Trip’ Award 2022

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 introduce you to those in the running for this year’s special accolade.

AKS Lytham, Lytham St Anne’s for its Year 7 Geography residential to Ingleton

Entered by: Nick O’Loughlin, Head of Geography

The AKS Lytham Year 7 Geography residential takes place towards the end of the summer term and is a culmination of the classroom-based learning the students have undertaken throughout the year. It is an opportunity for them to experience first-hand the landforms, processes and skills they have learnt.

This trip took place at the end of June / beginning of July 2021 in the stunning Yorkshire Dales, staying at Ingleton Youth Hostel, with the week split in two, with half the year group coming away for three days each.

Nick O’Loughlin, Head of Geography told us: “This is an annual trip for the Year 7 students, and I was deeply disappointed that the previous year’s trip could not, understandably, take place. I was particularly keen to make this trip happen for the students as I truly believe that this is an important aspect of their time in school, especially as their own Year 6 residentials had also been cancelled.”

All of the activities were designed to enhance the classroom-based learning and included: walking the Ingleton Waterfalls trail to further appreciate the processes that create waterfalls, gorges and other features; a caving trip to observe and understand the processes that take place underground in a limestone area, including measuring the internal volume of the main cave chamber, and a survey of Ingleton to understand the role of tourism in the town.

“The best place to appreciate the geological features of limestone is underground in a vast cave system,” said Nick. “The best place to grasp the erosive power of water is from behind a waterfall, and the best place to become a true student of Geography is immersed in a dynamic landscape.”

This residential trip comes late in the school year so there is a large amount of ‘frontloading’ before the trip commences. The trip is embedded in the Year 7 curriculum from the start and is often mentioned when teaching the topics. Plus, there are photo displays in the Geography classrooms from previous trips that are referenced to throughout the year.

When the students return in Year 8, they reflect on the links between the theoretical and the real life when studying coastal landscapes, allowing them a deeper understanding of the role that models play in their geographical understanding. Links from other subject areas are also realised, for example in Maths lessons, the measurement of the river can be referred to in terms of units and flow velocities.

“During this residential, it was obvious to see how much this time spent with friends and the year group meant to them. They were able, for a few days at least, to put the worries of Covid behind them and enjoy being in a relatively ‘normal’ situation. This residential, more so than many others, provided the students with many experiences that they had realised they could not take for granted.”

 

Ark Greenwich Free School for its KS3 & 4 ‘Family Time’ themed trip to Brighton

Entered by Mrs Su Reddy, Deputy Headteacher

A previous Geography trip to Walton on Naze had revealed that some of the students had never been to a beach and that they don’t always do family activities together. Some do not eat meals together as a family, and some do not go on holidays as their parents are always working.

As a result, this two-day trip was organised so the pupils could experience and enjoy a ‘family’ trip to a popular British seaside hotspot; enjoy ‘British’ pastimes/traditions; utilise the facilities in the community (the local lido for swimming as well as the local park); and to develop the school values.

Another rationale was because of the limited space on the school site, which is located in an urban area of London. There is no school field and a lack of running space for break and lunch times. So this trip also provided an opportunity to experience the great outdoors and a very different environment.

It was so big that the trip took place over two days and covered Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 (Key Stage 3 and 4). In total it involved 453 students with 69 teachers participating.

The trip was linked to British values, particularly the tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs and enjoying the summer in one of Britain’s most popular coastal hotspots. Plus, following the trip it was discussed how it had also brought other subjects to life such as Geography (how has the coastline formed?) and Science (why do we get waves?).

The school values of ambition, growth, fellowship and scholarship underpin the school’s curriculum and this particular trip developed these through:

  • Ambition: do scholars aspire to visit areas outside of Greenwich and Woolwich? How can scholars aim to visit different parts of the UK and the world when you leave school (use of disposable income)? Do scholars aim to have a future family life that have experiences like this?
  • Growth: How do scholars conduct themselves outside of school and doing a different activity?
  • Fellowship: How do scholars work together and help each other?
  • Scholarship: Can scholars master skills related to swimming and team sports completed?

Year 9 pupil, Nicoleta enjoyed the experience. She said: “This trip taught me to be brave and to give things second chance as I would’ve never went to Brighton if it wasn’t for the school.”

 

Ashurst Primary School, St Helens for its Year 5 KS2 Geography trip to the Lake District

Entered by Katie Crampton, Year 5 Teacher

In October 2021, this entry saw 27 Year 5 children (from Key Stage 2) and four members of staff travel to the Lake District for a geographical fieldwork trip.

It included visiting the Brockhole Centre and the children asking geographical questions that they had devised themselves earlier that week in school. The children were then given a range of activities to undertake fieldwork. They were asked to find out the answers to different geographical questions such as ‘What are the problems Brockhole faces and how can we overcome them?’ and ‘How has Brockhole adapted for visitors?’. In order to find these answers, the children had to conduct fieldwork looking for clues and signs around the grounds by becoming ‘Geography detectives.’

The group went on a boat trip around Lake Windermere and asked their tour guide, Rob, the same geographical questions, but this time focussing more the lake itself. The children then added further information to their answers from the tour guides at the Brockhole Centre.

Year 5 teacher, Katie Crampton told us: “The reason I booked the trip was because we were studying North America and the Great Lakes and now wanted to compare the Great Lakes with the Lake District, a fresh water system in their own country.”

The main aim of the trip was for the pupils to sail around Lake Windermere – for two reasons. Firstly, many of them had never been on a boat before; and secondly because the children needed to analyse the lake through observations and ask their own geographical questions.

Once this element was booked, Katie wanted to allow the children to examine and explore the place further by acting as ‘Geography Detectives’ so she booked the session at Brockhole.

“I found the trip amazing because I had never been on a boat before. Geography has not always been a subject I have enjoyed or found easy, but I now want to learn more about the world and places around us.”

Charlie, 9 years old

The field trip allowed the group to explore the Lake District in depth. It meant in their next geographical lesson, they could research the Great Lakes in more detail and compare them with their own work. The children used Digimaps (computer mapping programme) to find out how many Great Lakes there are in total and compared this to their information in the Lake District. 

 

Grendon CE Primary School, Wellingborough for its week residential in Cornwall

Entered by John Wayland, Head Teacher

There were two main aims for this school trip. The first was to enrich the curriculum in ways that wouldn’t be possible in the local environment. The second was to provide an opportunity for children to practise and develop important skills that transcend traditional subject disciplines. And if this wasn’t enough, it was against a backdrop of extended school closures and national lockdowns.

Head teacher, John Wayland told us: “Staff committed time and energy to become proficient in leading outdoor and adventurous activities and, from land-locked Northamptonshire, with the ocean many miles away in every direction, the school chose the spectacular coastal setting of Cornwall.”

Following a few phone-calls, the broad itinerary was set and the school embarked upon a trip, tailor-made to the specific needs of pupils. YHA Perranporth provided the base for a week-long trip for pupils to become self-sufficient in an unfamiliar environment and for them to help shape the trip as it developed.

As John explained: “The school was determined to demonstrate that its limited capacity would not present a barrier to leading an ambitious, purposeful and exciting trip.”

The trip provided a number of cross-curricular opportunities, including the pupils learning to surf for the first time, watching an evening performance as the sun set over the ocean at the open-air Minack Theatre, and a visit to the Eden Project biomes which allowed children to indulge their love of the natural world and outdoor learning.

Opportunities for social interaction and curriculum enrichment had been in short supply for this cohort of children,” explained John who said that levels of anxiety and uncertainty were high amongst pupils. “Their return to face-to-face education on 8th March 2021, following an extended period of school closure, presented a unique opportunity for the school to demonstrate the true value of a school trip in rebuilding relationships and nurturing independence.”

Whilst the trip did meet a great many learning objectives relating to Science, Literacy, Performing Arts and Physical Education, it was the skills that support pupils’ wider development that were honed so successfully during the Cornwall trip which then fed seamlessly into the secondary school transition work that pupils participated in, on their return to school.

 

Swanwick School and Sports College, Alfreton for its KS3 & 4 National Forest residential

Entered by Lewis Gadsby, Educational Visits Coordinator

Swanwick School and Sports College (SSSC) is a school for pupils with special educational needs, which include pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Moderate Learning Difficulties and Communication Difficulties.

This trip was a residential opportunity for pupils in Key Stage 3 and 4 that took place at the National Forest Youth Hostel, with activities at the local Conkers Discovery Centre and Hicks Lodge Forestry Centre. In total, 13 Year 9 and 10 pupils took part in mountain biking, high ropes, bush craft and canoeing activities.

The idea behind this trip was to aid pupils’ transition from Key Stage 3 into Key Stage 4 and previous day visits to both Conkers and Hicks Lodge centre had inspired the idea of a residential. EVC, Lewis Gadsby explained: “This transition can lead to high levels of anxiety for a number of our pupils, who are suddenly confronted by having to make significant decisions regarding their futures, as well as following stressful and important qualifications.”

So the decision was made to organise an out of school experience where pupils would be challenged physically, emotionally, and mentally. All pupils had to confront some kind of fear, be that a fear of heights during the high ropes, a fear of being away from home, or a fear of change to their usual daily routine.

Lewis told us: “The Youth Hostel is well placed and perfectly suited for groups of our size and nature. We are lucky to have members of staff who are able to lead on mountain biking and were able to book staff at Conkers Discovery Centre for the other activities.”

Physically, pupils were required to develop and apply their fundamental movement skills in order to successfully complete the challenges.

Swanwick School and Sports College run a comprehensive Life Skills curriculum which includes home management and interpersonal skills. These residential opportunities enable staff to observe how well pupil’s life skills have developed. For example, they were able to see how well pupils were able to pick appropriate clothing for the activities they are taking part in, as well as cleaning / tidying a bedroom they were sharing with other pupils.

Inclusivity and affordability were always in mind and planning for this trip ensured that all of the activities could be adapted to suit the needs of the pupils. 

For more information about the ‘My Best School Trip’ Award and how to enter for the 2023 initiative, click here