The key to successful educational visits is in the planning. It is vital that schools take on the services of an experienced and well-respected specialised travel company in order to take over the management of the fine details.
The safety and success of the trip itself depends on the suitable and adequate risk assessments, which must be carried out to identify the potential hazards and make provisions for minimizing associated risks. Many local education authorities offer help with this (including guidelines and information), and this is a great place to start when liaising with companies that organise educational visits.
Have a Planning Checklist
You need to have a clear structure of every aspect before you go even think of making a booking. Questions and issues you need to address include, but are not limited to, the following. Firstly, you must consider the purpose of the trip and what you are aiming to achieve from it. How long do you plan to go for and where are you thinking of going? Perhaps you are just taking a small group or maybe you want to join with another class that might benefit from the trip. With regards to the pupils on the trip, consider any that have special needs, including allergies and specific dietary requirements. Some pupils may have special skills or be more competent leaders than others and this is also worth noting.
Follow the correct process to ensure success
Specific administration issues need to be considered as well. You’ll need to consider whether you need approval from higher authorities (like the board or governors) for the trip, and make sure you leave enough time for this to be organised. You will no doubt be taking voluntary helpers and other teachers with you, so you need to be confident these people are capable of fulfilling the role. They must be well briefed and know what is expected of them. Also note that there are set “pupil to staff ratios” that must be adhered to, so make sure you are aware of these and have enough helpers with you on the trip.
Destinations and itineraries are key
If you book with a specialised school travel company, you may be offered the chance to make a preliminary visit to your chosen destination and, if so, this must be organised well in advance. If not, make sure you research your destination well, especially if you have not been before. Will there be activities involved in the trip and, if so, what are they? You will need to make parents aware of these and ensure that risk assessments are up to date.
Keeping parents informed
It is important to consider the travel arrangements for educational visits. Again, risk assessments must be done and you must know every detail about the length of journey, the timings and possible rest stops.
Before you leave, parents must have all the information pertaining to the trip, including contact numbers and full itinerary. Along with parental consent for every child, you should have any essential information from parents including medical history and insurance details. It is a good idea to appoint someone to be in charge of medication required for any students, and you should ensure they know how to administer and dispense it. There must be a first aider on the trip and a comprehensive first aid kit at all points.
If this appears to be a lot of work, it is. However, with the assistance of a school travel company, many of these details are taken care of and educational visits have the best chance of being memorable, safe and fulfilling for all involved.