School trips can be valuable experiences at any period in the year, but have you ever considered that certain times could be more advantageous than others? Interestingly, through the Brilliant Residentials initiative, Learning Away carried out a study which looked into when the best time during the school year was to take a class away on an educational experience. The study suggests that for both teachers and students, the start of the academic year is the best time for school travel. Plan your trip for autumn for the following reasons:
Set the Tone
It can be challenging for teachers to enthuse their class at the start of the year when working out of a textbook. A school trip exposes the group to new learning experiences, whether a museum, historical reenactment, or coastal exploration. This will kick things off on a high note and set the tone for an intellectually stimulating and rewarding year ahead.
An educational trip at the beginning of the school year gives your class much longer to let the knowledge sink in and improve their classroom performance. 77% of the pupils from the Brilliant Residentials study felt that an autumn trip would allow them to gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter over the course of the year.
As any educator knows, student self-confidence is vital when it comes to learning. School trips are excellent for developing confidence because they remove the student from their normal day to day lives (away from their parents) and encourage them to step outside their comfort zone. Doing this early in the academic year can have a huge impact on self-confidence and resilience, which should put them in good stead for the year ahead. Learning Away’s study showed that 87% of secondary school pupils felt more confident to take on new educational challenges after an autumn trip, so it should certainly be considered.
Lessons are much more enjoyable and productive when pupils get along with their classmates and their teacher – this helps to create an open, positive and productive learning environment. This can be difficult to build in the classroom, but a school trip provides an informal and fun environment to develop closer relationships. The Brilliant Residentials study showed that 84% of secondary school students felt that their social connections with fellow classmates had improved, whilst 71% of primary school pupils agreed that they knew their teacher better afterwards.
Lack of student engagement is an educator’s nightmare and it is damaging for both the teacher and their class. The results from the study showed that 72% of pupils in years 1 to 6 felt their ability to follow instructions and behave in class improved (phew!) and 71% of older students felt more motivated to focus and learn after a school trip. An engaged class is a productive and enjoyable one, which creates a positive learning environment for all.
Return on Investment
On average, it is cheaper to take a class on a residential trip between September and November than any other time of the year. When you combine this with all of the above benefits, it is clear that this is certainly the best time of year for school travel. Plan a trip for this period and you will see a greater return on investment on a valuable trip for both pupils and teachers.
Residential trips can be beneficial throughout the year, but you may find that the start of a new school year is the best time for school travel. Plan the trip for autumn and you and your group could benefit from all of the above and more.
John Gardiner is the Managing Director of The School Travel Company, a tour operator specialising in educational travel for school and youth groups to the UK, Europe and beyond. With over twenty years’ experience providing students with valuable and engaging learning experiences outside of the classroom, John and his team can help make your school travel plan a reality.