How to organise Primary School trips and visits (2)

In this second of our articles we look at RESIDENTIAL TRIPS for Primary children and how to organise and run these.

Residential trips for Primary School children do not usually occur below Y3 in other words, approx 7 years of age. I could be wrong on this, but I have never personally known this to happen.

Trips vary in length due, really, to the age of the children and the “challenge” of being away from home for a length of time. The older the children the more adaptable they are to this and as such residential trips can be held for up to a week.

These sort of trips usually have a focus  – this can either be adventure activities, historical or nature or some form of multi activity based theme…the school usually choosing the type of residential that it would like. These are based on such factors as the children involved, the curriculum or the location. However do bear in mind if you are thinking of organising such a trip that booking needs to be well in advance – in many cases over a year in advance to get dates that you may require.

Enquiring and visiting

It really is a matter firstly of deciding what sort of residential you would like and then getting down to investigating the details of the location and activities offered. It’s often a good idea to ask colleagues at other schools if they have visited any of the sites you are considering and see what their thoughts are.

Things that you need to look into:

  • Cost per child – are staff places free?
  • Distance from school
  • Activities offered – are they suitable for your children without being too “secondary” based?
  • Accommodation – how is it arranged, what are the children’s  facilities and what facilities are there for less able children and their carers? Staff accommodation is also important as you are going to have to be there for a few days. For younger age groups it is often better for the staff accommodation to be very near or within the same building as the children. (this can be an advantage where many children have not been away from home before)
  • Food and meal facilities – what are the meal arrangements and menus?
  • Qualifications and certification of the company. I have no doubt that every company offering this sort of holiday will be fully certified but for the schools risk assessment details must be provided
  • Evening facilities and evening staffing (is there a qualified member of the company staff on site through the night?)
  • Meal selections are usually offered so choices need to be made and alternatives for vegetarians etc
  • Assistance for less able-bodied children. Is this T.A accompanied or perhaps the parent also?

Having made your shortlist (well in advance), you now have to visit. This needs to be arranged and you should have a list of all the things you want to know. Make sure you are taken round by a member of staff and ask questions as you go. Get to know about the activities and also ask if there is an activity menu where you can select activities that would perhaps be more suited to your particular children – most companies will do this.

If you have done this for perhaps 2 or 3 venues on your shortlist then you will be able to make a decision – but don’t rush into your booking. Sort out all your costs including transport and come to a final figure for each child. Does that look reasonable and affordable? If your Headteacher and Senior management team think that’s ok, then you can make your booking.

Announcing to Parents

Most schools run 1 or 2 residential trips a year or every 2 years in the case of mixed age classes. Parents are expecting these trips to happen when their child reaches a particular class, however, whether this is a regular or a new introduction you need to go through the same process.

During the 1st term (or approx. 6-8 months ahead) you should hold a parents meeting to remind/inform them of the upcoming residential trip. This meeting should have prepared information for parents with regard to the Centre chosen and also the activities on offer – with, possibly, prepared photos to be displayed. Information should be given about accommodation, washing and toileting facilities and also dining arrangements. During the meeting you should be prepared to answer questions from parents. A handout to give to parents is also recommended.

All parents will wish to know costs – these are never cheap! but it should be pointed out that the school will be (and should be) making arrangements for the amount to be paid gradually before the date of the trip.

There is no necessity to provide parents at this point with such information as clothing requirements and other such details but it is a good idea to say that another meeting will be held a short time before the trip in order to finalise all details.

Keep in touch with Parents about what is happening – don’t leave it months and months before they hear from you again. A simple letter saying how things are progressing is well received!

Your final meeting with Parents should be about 2-3 weeks before the trip date – here you can discuss the final arrangements for the leaving day, hand out clothing lists and also answer any questions. Discussion also needs to focus on such areas as money (if there is a tuck shop) and also cameras, phones, music players and appropriate clothing. Your school will have thoughts on all these things. Again a handout with all areas covered should be given.

What you will need to take with you on the trip

Here’s a simple list – but there may be other things directly relevant to your school and class.

  • The usual necessities for the coach journey…sick bags etc
  • Class lists and any notes in relation to medicines etc
  • Any medicines needed for children – all labelled with dose and time instructions
  •  Lists of allergies and any “non foods”
  • Children’s money in named envelopes.
  • Activities selected
  • Groups selected for activities
  • Sleeping arrangements – room occupancy who/what/where
  • Emergency numbers for school contact. I would suggest that any emergencies are dealt with through school and not directly with a parent.
  • Meal choices and alternatives for any children
  • Activities for evenings – most centre will expect staff to look after the children in the evenings. Decide what you will be doing every evening and take the necessary equipment, dvd’s etc. Some centres may arrange a last night disco but generally the other evenings are down to you.

I think that about covers the basics you will need to know – you will, I am sure, find other things along the way that need to be dealt with. These trips are great fun and a chance to mix with the children in a “non school setting” and to relate to them in a completely different way. Expect it to be tiring and expect it to be non stop (which it is) . You will spend a lot of time encouraging, giving confidence and supporting pupils attempting activities for the first time – but their faces afterwards and the successes made are an amazing experience for all.

Be organised before you go – stay on top of things while you are there, but have a great time!







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