Family Life: Forms, Cost Analysis, Risk Assessment - Is a School Trip Worth All the Hard Work?

Article excerpt

Byline: Compiled by MARIE TURBILL and JOANNE WELFORD

Walker, Elle Clark and Jasmine Boyes, enjoy an ice cream in Goathland Pictures by LINDSAY WILSON and JOANNE WELFORD

Going on a school trip is a rite of passage for pupils at primary school, especially at this time of the year. But it is often a lengthy exercise in organisation for teachers and school staff who simply want to give their young charges the chance to experience learning outside the classroom. Is it worth it? Joanne Welford joined one class on their school trip to find out.

WHEN the steam train pulled out of Grosmont station belching smoke and accompanied by a shrill guard's whistle, the smiles on the faces of Belmont Primary School's Reception class spoke volumes.

There were lots of excited 'oohs' and 'aahs' coupled by cries of "we're moving!" from the four and five-year-olds on board.

And then the old engine pulled its carriages through a long, dark tunnel and as everything went black outside, the excitement level inside the carriage went up.

"Where are the lights?" and "Why is it night time already?" they wondered aloud until the train pulled back out into the sunshine and all was explained by teachers Margaret King, Lindsay Wilson and classroom assistant Christine Smith.

The tunnel, however, wasn't the only highlight of the day for the children from the Guisborough school.

Some loved being on the coach with their friends, others loved having a picnic lunch together in the village of Goathland.

More enjoyed the play park and choosing an ice cream in the village shop as well as the ride on the steam train and all the experiences that brought with it.

Across the country, recent years have seen a drop in the number of school trips because of overly bureaucratic health and safety rules.

Two months ago, though, the government reinforced the belief of many teachers that school trips do benefit children - and schools minister Ed Balls published new guidelines for teachers aimed at making it easier to take children out of the classroom.

The Reception team at Belmont already know the benefits and even though such visits take a long time to plan, they firmly believe it is worth it.

They take classes out every year to visit places around the region.

"It is absolutely worth it to take them out," says Mrs King.

"It gives the children an exciting experience that can be linked into other areas of the curriculum.

"During the trip the children are encouraged to make their own choices - it might be something as simple as going into the souvenir shop or choosing an ice cream, for example, which develops a sense of independence."

A trip outside the classroom also helps develop personal and social skills, adds Mrs King.

"It also encourages them to look after their own belongings - and it is exciting to be able to visit somewhere without mummy and daddy too," she says.

"The benefits of going out on a school trip far outweigh everything that needs to be done in preparation."

Belmont's two Reception classes are learning all about water and summer holidays as part of their topic work this term and a visit to Goathland with a ride on the steam train on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway was designed to link in with their work.

Since returning to the classroom, they've written stories about their day out - and are still talking happily about the bus and the train journey, the ice cream and singing songs on the station platform while they were waiting for the train. …