Ask an adult of their most memorable school experiences, and chances are they’ll talk about a particular school trip. It’s easy to see why – there is very little that expands pupils’ horizons or exposes them to exciting new experiences quite like a sporting tour or musical expedition with their peers – particularly when they go abroad. These are memories that last; memories that reflect well on their school.
Here are some of the benefits I see from when pupils embark on foreign soil with their school.
Uniting pupils and fostering the team dynamic
A trip abroad unites and drives pupils towards a common goal. At Clifton, while pupils are required to partly pay their way, they are also encouraged to partake in fundraising activities in order to help cover the costs. They learn the value of working together – ensuring that they are greater than the sum of their parts.
This helps to develop a tangible sense of camaraderie – and motivates them to work harder to meet their goals. As a result, teams become more cohesive and more effective. The end result of all of this, of course, reflects well on the school.
Inspiring pupils to reach new levels
It’s not just about improving groups. Public schools show their value in the specific opportunities they offer individual pupils and the way that they build character. These unique prospects are also distinctive in the way they motivate young people.
I’ve seen plenty of times how the prospect of an exciting tour abroad has seen youngsters work hard on and off the pitch and taken their talent or technical understanding to the next level. Likewise, sometimes I’ve seen those address slight behavioural issues and develop their character. In terms of motivation, it’s all carrot and no stick.
Helping other communities
An overseas tour gives pupils the chance to help others as well as see the world. They are taken out of their day-to-day education to see how other people live across the globe.
Clifton’s overseas tours are frequently accompanied by a charitable element as we aim to give back to the communities we’re engaging with.
For instance, when cricketers from Clifton College embarked on a spring tour of Sri Lanka earlier in the year, they raised £1,000 for the sporting charity Foundation of Goodness, which helps to reconstruct communities hit by the 2004 Indian Tsunami.
The team were able to meet like-minded boys who shared a passion and talent for their sport, and could help them with a sporting scholarship.
It’s a sad fact that school trips abroad are becoming less frequent for children in the UK. A 2014 British Council survey found that just 30 per cent of local authority-run schools currently run a family exchange program, compared with 77 per cent of independent schools.
Offering unique opportunities on foreign soil – whether that’s on specialist sporting tours or performing and developing artistic understanding abroad – is one way that independent schools prove their value to both parents and youngsters.
Growing relationships with schools abroad
Overseas tours and trips aren’t just a great way for students to expand their horizons. They allow staff and heads of schools to develop relationships with like-minded professionals on the other side of the world.
The trip may be planned over months and last just a week or two, but the connections that are built between schools can last a long time. This shared understanding and increased profile in both countries helps schools develop their expertise, widen their understanding and grow their reputation in foreign climes.
Hollie Swain is the Marketing Manager for Clifton College in Bristol.