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An Interview with Rajinder Osborne, Maths Teacher at Barr Beacon School

We recently caught up with friend and maths teacher, Rajinder Osborne, Head of Sixth Form at Barr Beacon School in Walsall, England

After seeing a nearby school organise an educational trip to NASA, Rajinder was inspired to organise her own. She recruited Educating Adventures to help her plan a trip of a lifetime. 18 months on from that initial conversation, Rajinder and her students have just returned from the trip, which she now regards the trip as the highlight of her 25-year teaching career to date. Here are her words on why she loves being a teacher, and why she decided to organise an educational school trip.

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

I am in my 25th year of teaching, so I’ve been in the industry a long time now.  I have always had a passion for mathematics and wanted to be a teacher for a long time. When I was five years old I had a wonderful math teacher. I remember thinking I wanted to be just like him.

Another vivid memory I have is visiting family friends who were teachers. On this particular visit, their dining room table was covered in exercise books they were marking. I was little, but I vividly remember thinking “Wow!  I wish I could be a teacher and have books to mark!”  I can’t say I have the same love for marking all these years later (laughs). But, I love my job now as much as I did when I first started.

What are the main reasons you love being a teacher?

I absolutely love working with young people. Watching them grow their skills and being able to help them work towards success is extremely gratifying. Another rewarding aspect of being a teacher is having the ability to pass on my love of maths to students. I love watching them develop a passion for the subject I love. Lastly, making a difference in young lives on a daily basis is what makes teaching such a rewarding career path.

Why did you decide to take your students on an international school trip?

I first started looking into organising an international school trip three years ago in 2016.  I was browsing STEM project ideas online and stumbled across an article about a school who had taken their students to Kennedy Space Camp at NASA.  I thought this was an amazing idea and a great way to inspire students in STEM subjects. We would have run the trip sooner, but I was diagnosed with cancer and had to take a year off work. The trip was put on hold until I returned.

   

Why did you decide to use a school travel company to organise your trip, instead of doing it yourself?

It made perfect sense to use a reputable company such as Educating Adventures who had all the right network of contacts to make a school trip to NASA viable.  Educating Adventures was able to help me plan the trip each step of the way. The team had a solution for every scenario, which made me feel extremely reassured. Also, they provided a group leader who travelled with us on the trip. She was amazing and was able to sort any problem (all minor issues, I must say) that occurred.

How long did it take you to organise the trip?

I would say the whole process of organising a school trip took around 18 months. This was from my first conversation with Educating Adventures to going on our school trip.

   

What were the top three highlights of the school trip?

  1. Seeing the students embrace new experiences and having an amazing week.  They didn’t stop smiling and laughing the whole time.
  2. NASA itself was an amazing place to visit. There are no words to describe STEM activities on offer there, except “wow!”
  3. My students surprised me with a Kennedy Space Center hoodie to say thank you for organising the trip.

What was the most challenging thing about travelling with a group of students?

On the planning side, I would have to say the school trip risk assessment stuff. While travelling, it would have to be keeping their passports safe and trusting them not to lose their boarding passes whilst they were duty-free shopping (laughs).

What was the biggest highlight of the school trip for your students?

My students loved our trip to the USA, particularly the variety of hands-on experiences that had been planned for them such as ‘Behind the Scenes’ at Universal Studios theme park and meeting an Astronaut at NASA.  My students also enjoyed the little things such as spending half a day on the beach and making s’mores around the pit fire, and the giant waffles on offer for breakfast.  By the end of the week, all I was hearing from my students was “Miss, this has been the best school trip ever!”  “Do we have to go home?”  “This is the best holiday I have been on!”

Do you think international school trips are important to a student's education or learning experience?

Absolutely!  International school STEM trips give students the chance to experience once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunities. The learning activities for kids on offer are amazing. For example, our students had the chance to participate in a space shuttle launch at NASA.  

Students are given the chance to step outside of their comfort zone through activities like iFly and riding scary rides at Universal Studios.

This trip also gave my students a chance to develop their independence. For example, getting themselves up at ready in the morning, making new friends, getting along with people they don’t normally mix with at school, and supporting each other. 

What would be your advice for another teacher considering a school trip abroad?

Do it!  Even though there will be stressful moments during the planning stage (for me, it was students dropping out of the trip for varying reasons), but how much your students will get out of it and seeing them smile makes it all worth it.

This trip has taken the top spot for my career highlights to date!  The experiences and the way in which the students conducted themselves and embraced opportunities, even when they were out of their comfort zone, will stay with me forever.  I don’t know if it gets better than this.

Educating Adventures work with schools to help provide their students with once-in-a-lifetime educational experiences. Get in touch with our team and start planning your school trip today.

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