The headteacher column with Mark Ronan

Pocklington School headmaster Mark Ronan.
Pocklington School headmaster Mark Ronan.

When we look back at our school days, the chances are that some of the best memories involve school trips, with the new experiences they introduced and friendships they helped cement.

Escaping the confines of the classroom, whether to visit a museum or a beach, brings a thrill and a burst of enthusiasm which often inspire renewed focus and drive.

The geography field trip to Flamborough is part of the curriculum.

The geography field trip to Flamborough is part of the curriculum.

Our school, like many others, runs trips to a variety of destinations and while pupils might view them as pleasant time out, they are actually a very important part of the learning experience. 

Some excursions are indeed part of the curriculum, like our recent 3rd Year Geography field trip to Flamborough, which gave pupils the opportunity to see and touch the rock formations they have learned about in class.

These occasions enable them to scrutinise first-hand what they’ve been taught, while subtly underlining the importance and relevance of lessons.

Students are more likely to retain and apply knowledge acquired practically. And there’s no better way to absorb information about plants or animals, for example, than to see them in their natural habitat.

New visual and sensory experiences enhance any learning process.

Kinaesthetic learners, who best absorb information through physical activities, particularly benefit from an interactive approach.

It can unlock doors to understanding far more effectively than a lesson or book. Trips also allow pupils to learn new skills, such as fieldwork, which can only be carried out in situ.

They learn the importance of good planning, focusing on the task in hand, accurate collection of data and writing precise, objective reports. Approaches or conclusions may be revised – and all of this helps young people become the sort of resilient and adaptable learners we prize.

Pupils often disperse in groups to carry out tasks or explore, allowing the skills of leadership, delegation and teamwork to come into play.

Fresh bonds of appreciation and mutual respect formed over newly-discovered common ground; hitherto quiet pupils can emerge from the shade and shine on their own terms, displaying skills they might well have not given themselves credit for, but which will serve them for life.

Activity breaks encourage children to assess (reasonable) risks together.

Taking on shared challenges alongside peers helps them to bond, fosters mutual empathy and support, and reinforces the communal spirit promoted across the school.

Fears are conquered, leading to a confidence boost and a new sense of independence.

Teachers value school trips as an opportunity to get to know pupils better.

Barriers can dissolve as pupils discover teachers are in fact more approachable than they’d realised, and teachers can spot new potential in youngsters who blossom in different environments.

Discovering new places is always a treat. New surroundings bring fresh perspectives and stimulate the independence of thought prized in our school’s individually-focused teaching.

That’s why we should all value and support school trips as a valuable way of promoting both effective learning and lasting bonds of friendship. In short, they can inspire for life.