Anything that makes school trips easier is a good thing…

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.

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Published by: @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing (fgipublishing.com) which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network, www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, www.francisgilbert.co.uk. He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.

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