As the overseas travel industry looks set to enjoy a welcome boom following the lifting of Covid restrictions, the trend for school trips seems to be going in the opposition direction, with UK school trips gaining in popularity. And from conversations with school leaders, teachers and parents it’s clear the trend is set to continue rising. Here we explore the reasons why so many schools are swapping far-flung destinations for UK adventures as they reintroduce pupils to the benefits of residential school trips.
Starting with the obvious – the rapid cost of living increase in recent months means families simply do not have the disposable income to afford the high cost of overseas travel. Overseas trips, costing on average £1,500 – £3,000 for 4-7 nights, are inaccessible for thousands of UK families. The £200-500 average cost of a UK trip for the same duration makes staying local the more accessible and inclusive option, ensuring schools can offer this invaluable experience to a much wider student cohort.
In 2019 Ofsted announced an important and widely welcomed shift in focus when assessing a school’s effectiveness, placing the teaching of the curriculum front and centre. This new focus means teaching in schools is no longer solely focused on exam results, but on teaching a rich curriculum. In practice this gives schools the motivation and flexibility to get creative with their teaching, offering students learning experiences outside of the typical classroom-based lessons. Curriculum enrichment days that offer students a whole day focused on one subject, but taught in a unique, innovative way to enhance pupils’ understanding of the subject, or view it in a different, often vocational way.
Or school trips that take children outside of the school environment to learn social development, collaboration and resilience alongside the curriculum subject the trip is linked to. Gone are the days when a curriculum enrichment trip meant a day trip on the ferry to Lille. The overseas school trip destinations may have grown to offer a myriad of exotic destinations, albeit with often tenuous curriculum links. But so too have the more flexible, accessible, affordable and practical UK options.
Destinations across the UK offer culturally, historically and geographically rich options for subject leaders looking to embed their teaching in a meaningful and long-lasting way. After all, what better place to learn about the changing coastline than a visit to the Holderness Coast in Yorkshire, where students can view and record first-hand data on the coastal erosion of one of the longest coasts in Europe.
“A Memorable and special trip for our children led by enthusiastic, kind and really well-informed staff who were excellent role models. Would 100% recommend. Thank you so much. Julia Lyness, Newland House School
Convenience & Value for money
There’s no denying that cutting out costly travel means you get much more for your money, and parents are much happier paying for school trips when they can see what their children are getting in terms of the trip experience, rather than paying for a long and costly flight / coach trip. Not to mention the added benefit of spending more time on the trip, and less on the journey getting there.
Staying closer to home is much more convenient and allows for greater flexibility. While so many staff and students are still having to isolate due to Covid, choosing a UK destination within easy reach of your school is a much safer bet for parents who are still nervous about the uncertainty of paying for a costly overseas trip, and means schools can offer flexible options like early collection or late arrival so even if children do have to isolate, they may not necessarily need to miss the whole experience.
The high cost of overseas school trips is often debated in the media for its divisive nature, separating the haves from the have nots in the classroom, and limiting important educational experiences to those whose families can afford them. Schools and parents agree the option of taking part in a school trip should be available to everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic background, and this is a big contributing factor now more than ever, to why teachers are opting for more cost-effective options. With travel rules still fluctuating so frequently it’s also more inclusive to offer a school trip that children are most likely to be able to attend, regardless of their vaccination status.
Thousands of schools UK wide have joined the important campaign to reduce their carbon emissions, and it’s incredibly positive that schools are leading the way in teaching students about the importance of considering our impact on the environment. While overseas travel can offer invaluable educational benefits, the fact that schools are taking the time to consider whether the intended outcome of the trip justifies the environmental cost and are willing to consider more sustainable options that offer the same outcome, is a significant step towards reducing our carbon footprint.
Fostering an appreciation for where we live
One of the positive things to come out of the pandemic was undoubtedly our renewed appreciation for, and time to explore, our local area. Limiting our social contact and our travel meant weekends were spent finding local parks, fields, footpaths and conservation areas that we may never have known existed before. Helping children to foster an understanding and appreciation for the area they live, and to consider the natural landscape, wildlife, flora and fauna on their doorstep, is incredibly important. Particularly for children living in larger cities, having the opportunity to learn more about and explore rural areas within half an hour of their urban home is incredibly eye-opening, and when they go home with stories of the natural beauty and adventure waiting for them just around the corner, they’re also encouraging their families to join in their newfound enjoyment of their local area.
So if you’re weighing up the options for a school trip for your students, do take the time to explore destinations closer to home, as well as the more exotic destinations. Boasting rugged mountains, rolling hills, legendary lakes, diverse habitats and extensive forests, it’s hard to imagine you won’t find the perfect place for your students to go on adventures, build friendships and make memories to last a lifetime.
Book your UK school trip
Wildchild Adventure offers educational residential trips in the Southeast of England, offering bushcraft activities and adventure trips in natural woodland settings within easy reach of London and the M25. Get in touch to request more information and to arrange a site visit.
- Building student character through residential trips
- Six reasons why more schools than ever are staying in the UK for their school trip (spoiler alert: it’s not because of Covid!)
- School trips after the pandemic
- 5 winter outdoor learning activities for schools
- 5 ways to get more from your School Bushcraft Trip
- Residential trips to benefit learning
- Perfect Primary School Trip Planning
- How to promote Outdoor Learning in school
- 5 Wild Challenges for Outdoor Learning
- Outdoor Learning Activities You Can Do at Home