While teachers are taking their well-deserved summer break, 'The TES' gives three secondary pupils the chance to have their say
SOMEBODY please tell me why teachers insist on arranging school trips? I went on a trip to France for five days not long ago. We had a meeting at school to tell us about it. "You have to keep a diary every day and fill out a 100-page project before you come home, but don't worry, you might still be able to have some fun. Here's your booklet. Make the cover look nice - don't just scribble 'France' on the front." Well, it can't look any worse with that bright pink cover which you could use as a reflector at night!
On the day of departure, I am at school by 4.45am for the two-hour trip to Portsmouth. I sit next to somebody I don't know, who throws up every time we go over a bump. It gets worse. In front of me are two giggling 13-year-old girls. Behind are two more girls reading Smash Hits, deciding who, from the Backstreet Boys, looks better with no clothes on.
We get to Portsmouth at 7.30 and board our ferry. After a while the ship starts to smell; people say it's stink bombs and the ferry crew blames our school, but it's a bunch of hippies on the lower deck.
Four hours after arriving at Cherbourg, we get to our destination. An old lady greets us at our hotel and we go to our rooms - no one, of course, is sharing with their friends. We have two hours to ourselves before dinner. I open my mouth to suggest something to do when "wham!" - my room-mate winds me.
For dinner our starter is some sort of chicken soupbroth, and the main course is chicken in a "different kind of marinade".
The next day we start our booklets and interview the locals about French France and British Britain. "Tu aimes France?" No success. I talk to them in their own language, they don't understand me. I talk to them in my language, and they still do not understand me. I will try again. A lady with a dog with fur like dreadlocks replies with: "No, no, no, I'm German!" We then meet a couple. "Bonjour Monsieur!" He turns to his partner, and mumbles something to her. Eventually he walks off and gets in his car. We carry on asking the lady questions. He beeps his horn, and she ignores him as he does it again.
After lunch we go to Dinan, where we do an observation quiz that must be 10 years old because half the questions are about shops that have closed down.
The next day we do an observation quiz of the local area; this one is a bit more up to date. In the afternoon we go to St-Malo and, what a surprise, another observation quiz. We see a group of bikers, say "Bonjour" and get the reply "All right, mate!" Dinner that night is typically French - burgers and chips. Then we play football on the beach.
On our last full day, the teachers buy loads of cheap French booze. "It's for your headteacher's leaving party," they tell us. Yeah, we really believe you.
Leaving day. I don't want to go home. We stop at Mont-St-Michel, but my friend and I can't be bothered to go to the top. We look at the shop that sells Uzis and Magnums, and I'm not talking about ice creams.
After travelling for one more hour, we stop off for lunch - a cheese baguette sandwich, a packet of crisps and an orange. Before we reach the ferry port all the items that are illegal in England are rounded up: knives, five butterflies, two locks and a flick comb.
We arrive home at 12am on Sunday. My mum asks me all the usual questions. Did I enjoy it? Yes, it was great to get away from my parents, and the teachers were all right, really. Where shall I go next year?
Adam Lynes, 13, is a pupil at Sandringham School, St Albans, Hertfordshire