Bring school subjects to life
Keith Sharkey, founder of school tour operator Halsbury Travel and former MFL teacher, explains how school trips can boost uptake in your subject area and set your students on the path to their future career
School trips are extremely beneficial, not only for academic development but also for setting them on the path to their future.
In my past life as head of modern languages, I ran many school trips.
Of course, one of the main reasons for arranging such trips was to support what I was teaching in the classroom – in my case, French. But while we normally tailor school trips to reflect our curriculum, it is well worth taking a moment to think of the other ways in which our trip can help our students to develop.
Encourage a passion for learning
At the age of 12, my school gave me the chance to go to Paris on an exchange with a French family. That first school trip to France really opened my eyes up to how far the subject could take me and that was where the seed of my passion for languages was sown.
Seeing the subject matter first-hand can really bring the subject to life for students. For example, many of our geography groups travel to Iceland where you can walk between tectonic plates, or even hike on a glacier. These experiences can really instil a passion for the subject.
I love reading the feedback from teachers that have travelled with us telling us what a difference the trip has made to their students.
For example, on our language study tours, the students stay with host families. Many teachers report that despite students feeling apprehensive about staying with a family they don’t know and don’t speak their language, it was in fact the thing the students enjoyed the most about the trip.
“An excellent trip. The students really enjoyed having lessons in the morning and spending time with their host family in the evening. They also enjoyed being independent and taking the tram/bus on their own. A great adventure for them and we all enjoyed it very much. The students were very grateful when we came back to England and said that they learnt a lot!” – Salesian College, Montpellier, April 2019
Set them on the path to their future career
My school trip helped me to realise what I was passionate about. But school trips abroad can also expose students to opportunities they never knew existed.
For example, before their geography trip to Iceland, would your students have been aware that they could spend their lives studying exciting things like volcanoes and earthquakes, potentially helping to develop early warning systems to save lives? They could become real-life geography superheroes!
Helping students to realise the practical applications of the subject is something that can really inspire them to think about their future and can help you as a teacher by boosting GCSE and A-level uptake of your subject.
Adapt your itinerary to enhance this further
When it comes to planning your itinerary, why not make a point of including activities and visits that will help to broaden your students’ horizons in terms of their future career paths, encouraging their passion for learning?
Many of the trips we organise offer exciting opportunities that will inspire your students. Some of our favourites include a visit to CERN in Geneva, where students will discover the excitement of fundamental research and take a look behind the scenes of the world’s largest particle physics laboratory; a guided tour of the UN headquarters in New York offering students a unique opportunity to catch a glimpse of some of the UN’s most important organs; and a visit to Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Station in Iceland, where students will learn about how natural resources have been harnessed to provide sustainable energy.
I’ve just mentioned a few of the opportunities here, but they really are endless and cover a whole range of subject areas. If you’re interested in organising a school trip, one of our tour advisers would be delighted to advise you on how we can tailor your trip to suit your requirements.