School Visits and the Curriculum - Views of a School Direct TraineePosted on: 14 Feb 2020
Learning about school visits and how they support the curriculum
by School Direct History Associate Teacher, Owen Molloy
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to take part in Dunraven’s visit of 50 year 9 students to the Somme Battlefields. I enjoyed the visit for a number of reasons but what stood out for me was how much the students gained from the trip. It is one thing to teach pupils about the horrors of trench warfare and how the first few days of the Somme affected the British army in a classroom setting. However, it is quite another thing to visit the battlefields to gain a greater sense of what it must have been like to take part in these encounters. I believe that school visits such as these have the potential to provide much more impact for a student’s learning. For example, they were able to see how the constant bombardment of artillery had completely reshaped the battlefields, making traversing through the land much more difficult. Knowledgeable tour guides did well to set the scene for students also accompanied us. Moreover, watching the students engage with the guides by asking pertinent questions really showed their interest in the topic and as a trainee history teacher, this was reassuring to hear.
I have learnt that school visits require a lot of planning, preparation and patience. In this instance, we had to arrive at school in the early hours of the morning to ensure we reached our ferry to France on time. The teachers leading the trip were clearly very organised and had prepared well in advance to ensure there were no issues that could disrupt the day. As a trainee, it was enlightening to see how much organisation and hard work goes into planning something this scale.
Overall, I found the experience very useful for a number of reasons. I believe the visit was informative for the students involved - as well as for me. I was able to build relationships with students who I do not teach, and I was able to see first-hand how effective organisation can enhance a successful school visit. Visits outside of school are something that every teacher should have to do, and I am thrilled that I was given this opportunity early in my training.