Organising a Trip
Posted 13 June 2009 - 11:18 AM
History in the classroom can be amazing but a History trip abroad can be a once in a lifetime experience for many students. For some students it might be their first trip abroad and for many others it might be the first time that they really see History brought to life. The tricky bit for History teachers is getting permission to take students abroad and then organising it down to the very last detail.
I have organised a number of History trips both abroad and in this country and each of them have been absolutely amazing and uniquely different. The aim of this seminar is to take new teachers through each stage of organising a trip abroad as I go about arranging my Yr. 8 Battlefields Trip to Ypres for May next year. This is the very first school battlefields trip that I have participated in yet alone organise and I will happily share the ups, downs, tips and any documentation that I create along the way. There are many experienced trip organisers on the Forum as well and I encourage as many responses to this thread as possible.
Step One: Getting Staff on Board
There isn’t a teacher on this forum that wouldn’t agree that our work life balances have changed dramatically in the last few years. But the fact that we are on this Forum does highlight that we go above and beyond the classroom – but how do you encourage staff to go on a trip if it impacts on their own time?
Most departments will have some staff who love the idea of trips abroad, and a few naysayers who won’t even commit to accompanying students to the local theatre, but it may not necessarily provide you with enough staff to fulfil the government’s regulations about staff student ratios. Simple solutions are to look beyond your department. There are always teachers who are keen to have these experiences. For the History department’s Berlin Trip we take a Sociologist with us, last year I took two Geographers to Stratford and for the upcoming Yr. 8 Battlefields trip we have asked an English teacher (who is also a Yr. 8 Form Tutor as well as being a good friend to two of the History staff) to accompany us – and we could have had so many more volunteers from beyond History. One thing we have learnt from experience is that our Headteacher often agrees more quickly if we ask Learning Support staff because they don’t technically have classes and won’t need cover – plus the girls really love the mixture of teachers. We informed Yr. 7 yesterday about the trip next year and they actually cheered the names of the teachers going with them in Yr. 8.
Step Two: Getting Permission
We all know that the key issue for many schools today, and particularly Headteachers, is the idea of allowing staff out of school when they might be taken away from important examination classes. Let’s remember Value Added and Residuals dominate many people’s minds these days. The key aim here is to be prepared to be flexible in the dates and days that you ask for.
If you know that there is a period in school when the timetable is light across the board, i.e. we have been given permission two years on the run for a week long Berlin trip in school time in the last week of July when the Yr. 10s are on work experience, Yr. 11 and 13 have left and the rest of the school is taking part in Multicultural week. If you know of such a week nab it and claim ownership of it as soon as possible – it also makes it easier to convince hesitant staff if it is not just coming from their own holiday time. I don’t want to go to Berlin next year but I will claim the slot for a History trip of some sort.
If you do not have an ‘easy’ week and you can’t encourage teachers to give up some/all of their holiday time then sell it to both staff and SLT on the idea of partly in school time and also in holiday time – but in a way that still gives staff a break as we all know that a school trip really isn’t a holiday for teachers!!! When recently selling the idea of a 3 day and 2 nights Battlefields Tour to our Headteacher my colleague and I completed two trip forms. One went from the Friday to the Sunday of the first weekend of the May Half Term Holiday next year – this is the one we initially handed in. The second one, which we kept in reserve, was for the Saturday to the Monday – which we had agreed to as a department beforehand. Attached to the first form was a list of justifications for taking the Year 8 group, how they would benefit from the experience and highlighted the fact that most of the major examination classes would have left. Luckily for us the Friday to Sunday trip was accepted (it did help that our school had been featured in the Liverpool Echo as being a pioneer in encouraging links abroad in the same week we applied). I should stress that as a Faculty we also offer to sort out Good Will cover amongst ourselves for these trips but I am aware that this will be a contentious Union issue next year.
We had to wait 3 weeks to find out if we had permission (which the HOF felt we would not get) and the great news was that we were successful in our Friday to Sunday bid. Our application had coincided with concerns raised by parents that there were not enough foreign opportunities available for KS3 students. But if we run a successful trip then, like Berlin, it makes it easier to put it in place again the following year.
Now we had the tough job of choosing a travel company……
Posted 13 June 2009 - 08:33 PM
Many thanks this is brilliant idea! I've added a few notes below that folks might find useful:
It might seem like a pain, but my LEA will not allow a trip to go ahead unless you take someone who is qualified as a first aider. St Johns Ambulance run first aid classes and are happy to come into schools to run workshops.. My department has all just all completed a course run after school on two nights. It took about 6 hours in total and was well worth it as I feel that I've learnt some invaluable skills. The only problem is that you have to renew your qualification every 3 years.
This was a real pain in the past, but our LEA has invested in a computer programme that does the majority of it for you. Once you've once, its relatively easy to recycle the last one. The programme even allows you to recycle ones done by other schools!
Getting the governors permission used to be a real pain as they often only met once or twice a term. We now have a panel of governors who review school trips and interview the teacher in charge for 10 - 15 minutes.
Posted 13 June 2009 - 10:30 PM
Now that we are in the credit crunch it can be hard to convince parents that the trip will be value for money but… if you play your cards right you can find a good deal with a travel company. I am aware that many people on the forum organise their own Battlefield trip but for first timers like me I wanted a good travel company.
My first port of call was to check the forum’s past strands on travelling to the battlefields to see if anybody had any information about good educational companies offering Battlefield trips:
I then did a search on the Internet for all of the different travel companies. I selected 9 companies and then drafted a generic outline of EXACTLY what I wanted, i.e. total cost for the travel, accommodation, meals, entrance fees etc. I wanted the bottom line.
Battlefields_Costing_Request___Miss_N_Boughey___Weatherhead_High_School.doc 27K 27 downloads
I attached this document to an e-mail that was copied to 9 different travel companies so that they could all see who I was contacting with to keep everybody in the loop. The companies that I received quotes from were:
European Study Tours
Anglia Battlefield tours
The responses that I received back were varied. Some travel companies telephoned, some e-mailed and some sent me DVDs and books. The prices varied from £255 to £206 and the customer relations varied as well.
It came down for me between NST and Equity and after speaking to the people at Equity they offered us:
3 days and 2 nights accomodation at Templehof.
All meals included.
All fees included.
4 staff places
2 days recce for teachers - accomodation paid for
Cost - £206
This was the best deal so we e-mailed and confirmed.
My colleague in the dept spoke to NST when I was out of school and after 3 more days and a lot more negotiation between the school, NST and Equity - the final offer that we were offered was:
3 days and 2 nights accomodation at Templehof.
All meals included.
All fees included.
4 staff places
Executive coach for the duration of the stay
Guide on hand
Coach driver available in the evening
2 days recce for teachers - accomodation and meals paid for
£100 towards travelling for teachers
Cost - £185
This proved to us that travel companies CAN offer you a much better deal once you barter with them and almost play one company off against the other. I'll be honest bartering with companies was not fun for me and against my nature - it was my NQT who pushed me to do it. We didn't choose the £185 offer and went with a £198 offer because they have shown great people skills with us.
We are now going with Equity - great people skills - and the next step was to find a way to tell 247 Year 7s that a trip was now in place for them but that we only had 35 places to offer them.
A meeting was needed.
Posted 13 June 2009 - 10:49 PM
The only problem with booking a trip a year in advance is that Equity needed either £35 per student deposit off us to hold the beds in the Templehof or £500 from the school and they need it by 26 June. Our original plan was not to tell the students about the trip until September but that went out of the window this week.
We spoke to the HOY and arranged to take all of Year 7 into the dining room for a chat – not ideal – but all we were offered and then we sat and drafted a letter for parents.
Taking into consideration the credit crunch, the number of places available and the shortness of time the letter that we drafted stated that all students interested in taking part in the trip needed to return the permission slip with £15 (we felt this was more manageable than £35 with 4 days to find it) to either myself or my co-leader. Now at my school we have to run the letter past the trips co-ordinator so that we don’t make any mistakes and the letter below was accepted by the school:
Battlefields_Trip_Letter.doc 29.5K 32 downloads
I have to say the letter went in to reprographics with very short notice – a box of chocolates works really well with reprographics staff!
My colleague and I are quite reliant on the huge drop down theatre screen in the Main Theatre when we do assemblies so speaking in the centre of a dining hall was going to present a problem. We wanted to enthuse and inspire the students and we debated taking props in with us but they would be too hard to see. Dressing up was not an option with the short notice and we felt that the Last Post would lose its impact in the dining room. We decided to split the talk between us.
I kicked off with a dramatic monologue about the bombs falling, the fighting and the dying in the trenches. I then segued into some stories from previous Battlefield trips that held good humour – which was accompanied by my kicking the main metal recycling bin in the centre of the dining room – which was loud and made all of the students jump. Ace!
My NQT then took over with the core details:
Teachers who are going
Name and cheque/cash in an envelope
Only to be handed in to named teachers
Date for handing in
Nature of choosing students – ‘names from a hat’
Money returned if not successful
Displaying the bright red hoody that is part of the price – with the school name, Ypres 2010, a poppy and surname on the back.
We then asked if anybody had any questions and we got the usual:
• What will the hotel be like – is it 4*?
• How long is the coach journey?
• What will the food be like?
• Do I need to take money?
• Is the £15 deposit on top of the £220 or part of it?
• Will it depend on behaviour?
And the not so obvious?
• Do we have to give the hoodies back?
• Can the rest of us have the Friday off when they are on the trip?
• I have a wheat allergy can I still go?
We were followed around school all day on Friday with extra questions but they do seem enthusiastic? I will know more by Tuesday when we get the deposits in so watch this space!
Posted 14 June 2009 - 10:26 AM
With only 35 places available on the trip and potentially 250 students who want to go the method of selecting the participants is very crucial.
'First Come First Served Approach':
We have used this system in the past and whilst it has advantages, i.e. the really enthusiastic students get to go - it can lead to having some less suitable students on the trip. It also limits the trip to those students whose parents can provide the deposit immediately and disadvantages those students who may need a few extra days. Plus if you have more than one teacher collecting in the money it is difficult to say who the first 35 might be if you are not together when you take the money.
Limiting to a Specific Group:
We have also run this type of trip before. We had 13 Yr. 10s who were awarded two trips via winning a History Channel Competition and even though they won it and went on the trip the Department was accused of favouritism because we did not open the trips to all students. Last year we also organised a Year 7 trip for 15 'Horrible Histories' club members to a production of the 'Vile Victorians' and the concern was raised that we did not open the trip for students who did not attend the club. We were approached by the members of the Year 7 club on Friday to ask if they would have preferential treatment because they take part in History clubs all year - we told them no. This trip is open to all students in Year 8.
'Names out of a Hat':
Due to the fact that we have such a short deadline for getting the deposit to Equity students must hand in their reply slips and deposits by Tuesday and we have to select students on the same day. We have agreed as a team to operate the 'pulling names out of a hat' activity. Now we do have some challenging students in school for whom the nature of this trip may not be suitable for their personalities - on a recent trip one Year 7 wrote on a war memorial! If we find that these students wish to take part in the trip then we will have to be very careful about whose names we pull from the hat - I'm sure you all understand what I am saying here. Students who are successful will be given a letter detailing their success for their parents and their deposit becomes non refundable. Unsuccessful students will have their money returned immediately.
I make it a priority that whatever trip I run to give the students a code of conduct for themselves and their parents to sign for whilst we are away.
Student_Trip_Code_of_Conduct.doc 26.5K 33 downloads
If some students are given the opportunity to go on the trip whose behaviour has been called into question over the last year then I intend to give them a school code of conduct that will state further inclusion in the trip will depend upon their behaviour in school. I do believe that all students should have the chance to participate in school trips but not if it will put themselves, the other students or teachers in awkward positions with their behaviour in other countries.
Posted 14 June 2009 - 02:28 PM
Posted 14 June 2009 - 06:43 PM
Posted 16 June 2009 - 07:03 PM
We had 105 students give us reply slips.
We sat and put all of the names in a box - pulled out 35 and then checked the names against attendance, punctuality and behaviour. We then ran the list past the HOY and learning mentor.
So the next stage.
Telling students that they have not made the trip can be awkward.
We have arranged for all 105 students to meet us in the cafeteria tomorrow.
We will read a list of the 38 students that we wish to stay behind, issue apologies to those who did not succeed and my colleague will be there to mop up the tears.
I will explain to the 38 left what will happen next.
My colleague will bank the deposits tomorrow.
I will sit in my classroom on Thursday and personally hand back the cheques/money to those who did not succeed.
Posted 16 June 2009 - 08:05 PM
Posted 23 June 2009 - 10:51 PM
Equity received our cheque yesterday and almost immediately I received an e-mail revising the conditions of the pre-inspection visit offer.
My advice is to always keep your past e-mails, quotes and details.
Never deal with this situation via e-mail - phone.
I telephoned and spoke to the manager and our original deal for the pre-inspection visit is back up and running.
Once again their customer service response to this was excellent.
Posted 28 June 2009 - 08:07 AM
Now that students have been selected and informed in school it is time to start thinking about informing students and parents about trip payment installments.
In school we have taken the approach that with Britain in the financial situation that it is then it is better to give the parents as long as possible to pay in small installments. We had a letter typed up:
Battlefields_Trip_Installment_Letter.doc 27.5K 13 downloads
We have purchased a receipt book in order to keep track of payments and ensure that parents have an account of the money that they have paid.
We have had a few parents who have requested to pay the whole amount in one go and that is acceptable as well.
It now feels like the trip is under way!
Posted 28 June 2009 - 10:17 AM
One of the key factors in my colleague and I choosing Equity to travel with is because they offered us a good pre-inspection visit.
There are many good threads on this forum about Battlefields Trips but since my colleague and I have never taken students to the Battlefields before (and it is a few years since we went as teachers) we felt that a pre-inspection visit was important.
The main aims of a pre-inspection visit for us are:
1. To evaluate the accomodation that we will be staying in.
2. To evaluate the area we will be visiting.
3. To get a general feel for Ypres as a town to take 12/13 year olds to.
4. To undertake tours of the Battlefields to gain those useful facts/stories that make coach trips more interesting since we have no guide.
5. To evaluate the In Flanders Field Museum.
6. To look at basics such as 'Miss where are the toilets?' or 'Miss where can I buy a drink?'
7. To see how we can occupy students in the evening.
8. To gather information for parents pre visit.
9. To finalise the risk assessment.
I have never undertaken a pre-inspection visit before but special thanks goes out to Mark H who has offered some really good advice.
Getting a Deal off Travel Companies:
We made sure that our pre-inspection visit was part of our travel bid.
There are three ways to travel to Ypres:
1. Fly to Brussels and then get a train to Ypres.
2. Take a train to London and then on to France and then on to Brussels and then on to Ypres (a lot of travelling by train).
3. Drive your car, take the ferry and then drive in Europe.
The first two options do mean that you have no car once in Ypres but this will not be a major problem.
The last option means that you have a car to arrange your own Battlefield tours.
We have opted to fly from Manchester to Brussels (just less than 2 hours) and then get the train from Brussels airport to Ypres (an hour and a half). Flights will cost us roughly £300 for two teachers and train tickets are £28. Equity have agreed to pay £100 towards travelling costs!
Train tickets - http://www.internati...com/default.asp
WARNING - MAKE SURE YOU GET YOUR TRAVEL COMPANY TO AGREE TO MONEY OFF TRAVEL EXPENSES AND NOT JUST FERRY ROUTES IF YOU WANT TO FLY!
The travel company have agreed to pay for 2 nights Bed AND Breakfast in the hotel that we plan to stay in (once again some companies only offer bed so be pushy and ask for both). We have opted to pay for a 3rd night ourselves because the flight times are better a day later in consideration of the train journeys back to the airport.
It is expected that we pay for our own lunches and evening meals which was fine with us.
Now since we do not have a car my colleague and I are hoping to use:
They run an Ypres and a Somme tour that cover the excursions we plan to take - so no cars needed - and they have an excellent reputation.
In addition Equity have agreed to pay fees for the In Flanders Field Museum which we also plan to visit.
So we plan to do a 3 day recce between April 5-8 2010 - just over a month before we visit. We figured the closer the better as it will be fresh in our minds.
Posted 29 July 2009 - 01:42 PM
Well we collected our first instalment in before we broke up and that was a nightmare!
The girls did not seem to realise that a deadline/date for payment of money to school was really a date that was set in stone and we encountered the following problems:
1. Students who paid up to a week after the deadline (and being harassed three times).
2. Students who believed that they could pay the £25 instalment in instalments!
3. Students who lost their letters.
4. Students who paid the whole trip fee in one go and forgot that they had already paid the deposit.
So what have I learnt???
That first thing in September I intend to collect the whole cohort together in one room and explain that the department has to pay an outside agency to organise the trip and that failure to pay on time could lead to the trip becoming more expensive for everyone. The lateness of some students meant that we could not bank cheques in time due to the end of term arrangements - so some parents will not be happy when two cheques go out at the same time.
I will also need to sit down with the Head of Year 7 who has made initial organisation of the trip more difficult by making it clear through body language etc that time to collect cheques in and discuss trip details with students should not really be taking place during form time - and I am in her year team. This is unusual because most other HOY let this take place.
Posted 11 August 2009 - 06:02 PM
If I can help in any way, with the planning, or where to visit, please just ask!
Posted 19 October 2009 - 08:13 PM
If collecting in money from Year 8 - expect some not to pay on time, some not to pay and some to try and pay weeks before they need to!
This causes complete chaos and ultimately leads to you missing your second payment installment!!!!1
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