My Best Worst School Trip

Best: The best had to be a trip to Germany with nearly 130 Year 7s. For many it was their first time abroad.

The trip included the compulsory eating of large amounts of chocolate, then running around before vomiting on the ferry and the "Are we there yet?" questions. But as the first experience of mainland Europe for many, it was an adventure of discovery.

Watching and helping the pupils beat off homesickness and experience a new culture was rewarding, as was watching them form new relationships and bond with each other and the staff.

With excitement building towards the activity for the final day, we arrived at Phantasialand, a giant theme park in Bruhl, with the expectant throng.

However, I soon realised that it was some of the teachers who were most overexcited. Miss M couldn't help herself from running everywhere and Mr W "needed" to have another go on the Colorado Adventure. The multi-coloured Slush Puppies I bought them did not help calm them down as we headed for one last ride in the Mystery Castle.

It was fun for all the kids - big and small.

Worst: Leaving slightly late for the Natural History Museum in London, the three coaches were noisy with expectant excitement from the 140-ish Year 8 pupils.

When the first coach indicated to leave the motorway, the brighter pupils asked where we were going and seemed dissatisfied that the temporary closure of the M23 was a good enough excuse.

The prolonged journey would have been less of an issue had the coach not started to smoke as we neared halfway. Our assessment that it was safer to leave the pupils on the coach was soon reversed when smoke started to come inside and the pupils piled out on to the relative safety of the verge.

A replacement coach arrived nearly two hours later as the unhappy throng guzzled the last of their packed lunches. Setting off again, we arrived in London mid-afternoon.

The huge and magnificent dinosaur in the entrance hall still managed to amaze the tired and jaded classes as we arrived. Even more amazing, perhaps, was the decision by the teacher in charge of the trip that we should set off back, even as we gazed up at the massive skeleton.

With the children from each of the two working coaches having had a successful couple of hours around the museum, he didn't want any of them to be late for parents at the designated pick-up time.

As gutted as I was, I knew the pupils would be more upset - and they were. Trudging back to the coach, a group of girls announced they would never come on a trip with me again. They had themselves a deal.

Mike Lamb is a biology teacher at Hurstpierpoint College in West Sussex.

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