For teachers (and, in fact, anybody who regularly works with large groups of people) the field trip is an educational experience par excellence, and one of the ways to take the educational experience out of the realm of pure theory and show how what is being taught applies in the real world, out in the field. This is a reason field trips are an essential part of many school curriculums and hence why these are a part of any educational program. Field trips are how you bring education out of the realm of pure book learning.
Of course, though, a field trip is no small undertaking when it comes to the planning involved. The job of taking a large group out of the classroom or educational institution means that their safety is now your responsibility alone. Add to that the fact that a field trip should also be educational, and you have the double responsibility of ensuring safety for a large group of people is guaranteed, and that the field trip still achieves its educational goals. It is a large undertaking! But then it’s not like field trips aren’t pulled off successfully every single day in schools all around the world. There is plenty of advice to defer to.
Of course, it is all about planning. And sad as it is to report, field trips are actually becoming less common as safety provisions are becoming stricter. This means that a successful field trip is arguably harder to plan today than it has ever been before. But it’s still possible.
Steps to Planning a Field Trip
As it happens, it is perfectly possible to give a step-by-step guide to planning a field trip. And given that safety regulations across educational institutions are becoming increasingly standardized, we can lay out a series of steps that are not likely to be any different across different field trips and educational institutions.
The only difference is if you are planning a field trip for a group of adults. Naturally, this is a lot easier and responsibility for the party’s safety becomes less onerous. Given that a field trip with adults is easier than a field trip with kids, it’s best to prepare for the harder task of the two. If you become adept at planning a field trip for a group of kids, doing so for a group of adults is less work, not more.
With that in mind then, here follows a list of steps for planning a field trip that is both safe and educational. And, of course, it all begins with deciding where to go…
Decide Where to Go
This needs to be the first step, as it will inform a large amount of planning further down the road. We have mentioned that safety is paramount, and the safety risks posed by any given field trip will naturally depend upon where the party is going, and the safety risks associated with that location. This is where to start.
And it isn’t just safety. In fact, safety is not the first consideration. When deciding where to go, you should prioritize two things – educational value and cost. You want a field trip that will benefit the attendees. This can be anything, but it would naturally be best if it were related to the curriculum or topics the group has already been studying.
After that, you should consider the price of the trip, which means transport, accommodation (if it is more than one day), and food and drink. The next consideration after that is how much the attendees themselves are going to contribute. These are the bases to cover.
Talk to the Head Teacher or Leader of Your Institution
A field trip nearly always needs to be officially cleared by the institution itself, not just you. Therefore, you should seek out the relevant authority and get the green light for your field trip. You should do this before announcing it to students. You might have multiple meetings with the head of your institution, clearing this or that as your plan develops.
This all depends on who is going on the trip and how far away it is. These two factors will decide the overall price and time of the endeavor. You need to clear attendance first of all, and this might not necessarily be the size of your class or group. Sometimes, only certain students will be going, and this could require a parental response. Once you know the number of people going, it is time to book the transport. It will normally be a bus.
To feed everyone appropriately, you need to decide upon a food plan. You should allow attendees the option of bringing along their own food, as this will keep costs down where possible. However, make sure that there is nevertheless food provision. A good rule of thumb is to ensure feeding before long journeys, packed lunches on the journey, and then the usual three meals a day thereafter.
Conduct a Risk Assessment
A risk assessment will be closely related to the place you are going. Be rigorous and account for everything if you can. Then, you can make sure that you are covered before you go.
You should also be prepared for accident response. Naturally, the best tactic is to prevent accidents in the first place but having a first aid kit on hand and a few simple safety or medical items can be particularly useful. Naturally, you don’t need to go overboard (you’ll hardly have to buy a portable defibrillator or anything like that) but you should make sure that you have what is necessary for minor accidents – and know exactly what to do in the case of more serious ones.
Plan a Schedule/Itinerary
After you know where you are going and how (and when) you’re going to get there, you can plan what to do. The timing of your arrival and length of time there will decide much of this for you. More importantly, though, you should make sure your schedule is integrated into your educational goals for the trip. And, speaking of…
Plan Your Educational Goals
This is when you decide what exactly your students are going to learn on the field trip. This can be anything of course and depends on where you are going and what your students are currently studying. Nevertheless, you should ensure they can get something from the trip. To ensure engagement, you should plan exercises and activities for the students to complete when on the trip. This will encourage them to engage with the trip in an educational way.
And that’s it. Planning a school field trip takes the most planning. Once you know how to do that, you can plan any field trip at all.