School travel is fast becoming a normal part of a child's education. Increasingly, schools around the world are incorporating educational trips into their academic calendar. Since 2010, we've seen the number of tours abroad offered by schools we work with increase by 127 percent.
The general consensus shared by experts is that school travel helps to reinforce and expand on classroom learning. It can also help students build soft skills and expose them to new opportunities.
Students who travel are more sought after by employers. A recent study showed that 82 percent of employers in the UK believed travel made you more employable. 38 percent thought travel boosted confidence, increased people skills and improved communication skills.
The study also suggested that people who travel tend to be more entrepreneurial. 34 percent of people who had travelled were self-employed compared to 14 percent of those who hadn’t.
In our modern global society, school travel is an easy way for schools and teachers to help prepare students for the future. Here are our top four benefits of educational school travel.
1. Reinforce classroom material by exposing students to real-world situations
At its core, the purpose of the educational system is to prepare children for life as an adult. School is designed to arm students with skills necessary for becoming contributing members of society. School helps build soft skills like teamwork and problem solving, and specific skills such as mathematics and writing.
This practice of skill building traditionally takes place in a classroom environment where the teacher plays an active role in disseminating information and students play a more passive role absorbing and memorising the information presented.
On the surface, there are no apparent flaws in the traditional classroom environment. But, one major drawback is that this learning environment lacks real-world application. Every student has a unique learning style. Some students are intrapersonal learners who thrive in a classroom environment while others flourish in more social settings. Real-world experience has proven to be a successful learning mechanism for all learning styles.
Real-world experience benefits students of all learning styles. It helps them to grasp theoretical concepts taught in a classroom environment. Kolb's model outlines four universal stages of learning: Abstract conceptualisation, active experimentation, concrete experience, and reflective observation. Abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation can take place in the classroom while concrete experience and reflective observation can only occur with real-world application. Educational travel gives students a complete learning experience and reinforces classroom material.
One example of this is Guildford Grammar's annual NASA trip. Since including NASA educational camps as part of their curriculum, Grace Lutheran has seen the number of students enrolled in STEM subjects increase year on year.
2. Motivate students in the classroom
School travel significantly increases student engagement in the classroom. Regular feedback we receive from clients is that students who lacked confidence before a school trip have gone on to flourish in the classroom upon arriving home.
This is because school travel helps students see the big picture. They learn the purpose of education and where their studies can take them. School travel also exposes strengths and helps students build confidence. For example, a child who struggles with essay writing may realise they are a great team leader. By understanding the purpose of education and recognising their unique strengths, students will return to the classroom more motivated.
“My science students are passionate anyway. But I've noticed that visiting Kennedy Space Camp has added to their enthusiasm. Being able to run school trips and expose students to world-class facilities is very rewarding and enhances their learning.” - Dan Moss, Harrow International School.
3. Expose students to new cultures
Exposure to new cultures can significantly benefit a child's personal development. School travel exposes students experiences they wouldn't usually have access to. Students will gain broader perspectives and learn to be comfortable in unfamiliar situations.
School travel can be more meaningful for students than holiday and leisure travel. Away from family and friends' students are compelled to step outside their comfort zone. As well as learn, students will meet new people, try new foods, travel foreign places, and so much more.
“My students had a fabulous time in China. They appreciated the fine cuisine, the nightlife of Shanghai, the history of the Forbidden City and walking the Great Wall of China. Students also loved the shopping in China, the Silk Market in Beijing.” Neil Curran, Grace Lutheran College.
4. A once in a lifetime experience
Giving students an educational experience outside the classroom is a gratifying professional achievement. Organising a school trip is not easy, but the benefits reaped largely outweigh the time and effort involved.
The benefits of school travel include exposure to new cultures, increased confidence, and improved motivation. Not only that, school trips highlight the importance of school and help students identify their unique strengths.
"School trips are essential to a child's education. The educational and cultural experiences my students gain travelling abroad is what motivates me to organise our NASA trip. International school trips help broaden my students' life experiences and provide relevance, direction and confidence in their learning. I get fantastic feedback from parents, students and staff. Organising these trips is one of the most rewarding things in my life. It enriches my teaching career. I have incredible memories and stories from each trip.” Gary Foster, Guildford Grammar School.