The Coalition’s move to cut the red tape that stops teachers arranging school trips is one of the few good ideas it’s had recently. I appeared on BBC News talking about this over the weekend. This hot weather has only reinforced my belief that school trips — if properly thought about — really are beneficial. Obviously, just taking your class down to the park to play is not going to help them learn hugely, but even short trips can give a fresh context to learning. For example, I’m doing poetry with my GCSE class and have been encouraging them to really perform the poetry; I’ve found that they’ve liked performing it outside the normal classroom context and filming it. It’s only meant walking around the school grounds, but even this a few years ago was frowned upon as being against ‘elf n safety’. (Yes, it’s really true! I was actually told not to do things like this because it was a threat to the children’s safety.)
I’ve found that things like theatre and museum trips really help children the wider context of a particular subject, such as Shakespeare’s plays or Dicken’s novels. But they are very time-consuming to organise and involve a lot of paper work. Perhaps the changes to the law will improve things. Well, I guess we will have to wait and see. I like the idea of a “generic” permission slip that parents sign at the beginning of the year and then that enables teachers to take children away on short day trips without having to collect permission slips every time as long as a letter has gone out.