Planning a school trip can be stressful and time-consuming – especially considering how much teachers work. Luckily, several companies cater to educational trips, and many areas offer tours, guides and more. Read on for three of the best locations to amaze, inform and inspire. |
Normandy is perhaps the location on this list richest in history. William the Conqueror came out of Caen almost a millennium ago to define British history – and the town is still open to visitors today. The region also houses the famed Bayeux Tapestry, allowing students to gasp at 70m of centuries-old weaving.
Those wary of the practicalities of planning a school trip can rest easy. Normandy’s proximity to the UK ensures that a lot of English-speaking guides are on offer – though they of course encourage guests to speak French! Old towns boast winding streets and busy markets for pupils to get lost in, and beaches make perfect summer relaxation spots.
Finally, Normandy also makes much of its recent history. Older children and teens are likely to be familiar with the Second World War and with landmark cinematic depictions of D-Day such as Saving Private Ryan. A trip to Normandy would enable them to see the sites of these crucial battles. Many of the landing sites are preserved for visitors, and the some of the museums offer stunning 360° cinema showing footage shot at the time by war correspondents.
A little further afield, Switzerland’s most famous city offers a lot to dig into. First, there’s the country’s unique history: it successfully remained neutral and independent despite being deep in the heart of Western Europe, and is home to one of the continent’s oldest democracies.
This stability and neutrality provided fertile ground for collaborative international organisations and programmes. There’s a lot to offer anyone planning a school trip, from the supercomputers and scientists at CERN to a peek behind the curtain at the United Nations.
Though it’s dropped out of the news since the hysteria around the Large Hadron Collider, CERN is a paradise for budding scientists. Pupils studying A-level physics will especially appreciate the work done – and maybe get inspired towards undergraduate study. The many helpful tours on offer also ensure that even non-specialists will understand the organisation’s work.
Students more interested in the humanities and social sciences, meanwhile, can explore the UN headquarters. Management-level figures lead frequent seminars offering behind-the-scenes looks at their work. Some of the best include the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
With all this on offer, as well as stunning mountain scenery, your biggest issue when planning a school trip to Geneva will be fitting everything in.
Our final destination is even closer to home. There’s no need to worry about passports, borders or European health cards here. Home of the highest mountain in England and Wales, Snowdonia is a world-class national park with a lot of unique educational opportunities.
The region’s rugged landscapes make it perfect for those studying geography or geology. The mix of volcanic and sedentary rock formations at the Cwn Idal valley is especially unique, and your pupils are sure to appreciate being ‘out in the field’. And even those with little interest in rocks will appreciate the natural beauty. Take them on a trip on the Snowdonia Mountain Railway, for instance, to gasp at their surroundings. Or, if you fancy a challenge, organise hiking excursions and immerse your pupils in nature.
Furthermore, though few schools in England teach the Welsh language, you shouldn’t discount the region’s unique culture when planning a school trip there. All students benefit from cross-cultural encounters.
Snowdonia also has a lot to offer historians, with slate and copper mines dating as far back as the Bronze Age. These mines were a crucial part of the area’s economy to recent decades, and anyone interested in British history will appreciate learning more about this often-neglected part of the island.
Each of these locations has a lot to offer both pupils and teachers. While teachers will appreciate the chance to share their knowledge in new and exciting settings, there’s no pressure to be a specialist and an administrative wizard. Consider booking through a specialised educational travel tour operator to ensure the best experience for yourself and your students and to take some of that pressure off.
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 help teachers who are planning a school trip give their students an experience to remember.
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