School trips are now a first-class ticket to trouble

8th July 2011 at 01:00

I was interested to hear last week that the Government wants teachers to run more school trips, and not be put off by the extensive health and safety regulations.

As a languages teacher of some 18 years, I have successfully led numerous trips abroad. But I believe it has never been more onerous than it is today. The painstaking preparations, consent forms, risk assessments and information evenings are burdensome enough on top of a teaching workload, but they are nothing compared to the pressures of actually being there, supervising those 45 teenagers 247 in a major European city.

Add to this our charges' obsessive urge to relay every little detail of what they are doing to friends and family - for example, that a busy foreigner has just pushed past them in a crowded shopping street.

An hour later, following feverish phone and text exchanges (the group leader still oblivious), a parent rings the emergency number and asks what the hell has been going on. By all accounts a major incident has occurred, and you stand accused of neglect.

You may sense from my tone that this has happened to me. Indeed it has, recently, and involving a pupil whose parents viewed the incident as a bull does a big red tablecloth. Their protests have since subsided, but not without prompting me to question why I bothered in the first place. I don't need to bother. A trip is no jolly. I get no expenses paid. I have two young kids and would rather not spend a week away from them. Why do it?

It was a difficult decision for me to launch the equivalent trip again this year, but I have opted to go ahead. For me, the reward to the pupils far outweighs any of my gripes. However, I have absolute sympathy with colleagues who, on balance, conclude that trips are just not worth the hassle.

Scott Rockingham, Northampton.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now