Field trips and outdoor trips are as important as breathing for young peopleMr. and Mrs. Stephen Goodhart, Head Teachers at Swanbourne House and trained in Outdoor Education have commented on teachers who do not arrange experiments and field trips for youngsters.
“Young people need the outdoors as much as they need to breathe,” says Mrs. Goodhart who, along with Mr. Goodhart, trained in Outdoor Education. “Not only do children need trips for learning but for their well-being. Children need to engage with the outdoors for their whole lives. The outdoors is not just a resource, it is way of life. The presence or lack of field trips in Schools hinges on confidence and leadership. For some teachers, high profile legal cases, sometimes Union advice and a lack of support through leadership has made the running of field trips and experiments seem like a risk to your whole job.” Mr. Goodhart explained, “In our school there is support for staff and their field trips. Deputies check the planning, we have members of staff who can train everyone on how to do risk assessments and then we carry out our trips and experiments.”
This year every child from Y4-Y8 has had the chance to join a weekend trip in the outdoors and there have been Science, Geography and English field trips, sports tours home and abroad, camps and excursions. Some of our seniors went to Dorset to read the last chapter of Moonfleet in situ, with the wind and the sea whipping around. It was exhilarating for the children and unforgettable. Practical work has a high impact; it consolidates memory and learning. We make trips a staff team event, with several staff taking part.
With a school culture of support and an understanding that the staff are insured against disasters, it can liberate teachers and so School Leaders need to communicate it.
Mr. Goodhart explained, “I once visited a Biology Department in a School that did not have a single living animal or plant. Yet practical work, trips and experiments make children alive to learning. Over my Science career, I have taught practical science and rural science with the best of pupils and the most unruly. I speak from experience when I say experiments and practical work are the way to improve learning for all children and both Unions and School Leaders should do everything they can to give teachers the confidence to carry them out.”