Our educational tour: Romford to Glasgow

Eddie Aylett

Eddie Aylett is one of the assistant principals at Bower Park Academy in Romford, Essex. He received his BA Honours in Physical Education with QTS from Greenwich University, London in 2000. He has taught in Secondary Education in the London Borough of Havering and has also taught overseas in The Netherlands. In addition to teaching Physical Education, Drama and Science, Eddie is also the academies International School coordinator and global leader.

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I flew for the first time at the age of seven, and have never looked back. The fact that my parents had decided to holiday abroad was a chance to catch the rays and learn the lingo. What they did not know, however, was that our family dynamic would change forever. We were to travel from Romford to France by bus - yes, bus! From Romford market we would spend approximately 20 hours snaking our way across southern England collecting other eager families before finally boarding the ferry to France. What people often fail to mention is that travel was extremely different in the 1980s - the bus had no air conditioning and never a toilet.

"Parents returned the survey and expressed their enthusiasm, which was extremely encouraging!"

With this uncomfortable experience in mind, I decided that as long as I hold the global leader position at Bower Park Academy, I would limit this painful experience for others

Having secured funding from the British Council, we were able to send a survey to all pupils in the Bower Park Academy to see if they had flown before. The first flight programme selected pupils that had not. I had run a similar programme at my early employment, and Glasgow was a perfect option. This enabled students who didn’t have passports to travel without impacting on the budget for the day.

I sent a survey to all students parents and had a vetoed response. Some parents returned the survey and expressed their enthusiasm for the programme, even though their children had already flown. This was extremely encouraging! After considering budget and responses, 46 students were selected to travel to Glasgow for the day. We met at 6am at the school and headed to Stansted to begin the day!

Our headteacher Mary Morrison, originally from Glasgow (by coincidence), had a bigger plan than I. She had contacted her nephew, who went about getting in contact with Hillhead High School in Glasgow for us. The day trip not only became a first flight programme, but also an educational tour. As we landed in Glasgow we were greeted at the airport by a private bus, and made our way to the school where we were greeted with bagpipes!

This educational tour allowed us the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom. I spoke to a Mathematics teacher recently who was struggling to engage pupils’ interest. This was fresh in my mind as we visited the school, where the practical Maths that all students used broke down the stereotype of Maths being boring. They all had a budget for the day and had to control and monitor their own spending! Checking change, allocating funds for food and gifts, and so on.

An educational tour can be a one short local excursion, a day trip or longer. With this trip, we had a tour of the school, visited lessons, completed a sightseeing tour and hosted our guests in Buchanan Street for dinner! Our usual school DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) session also still took place, but without the usual “can you read please” from the teacher. Reading material became engaging as we read about Glasgow, the sights and Hillhead High. This is a model that all non-readers should consider!

The secret to educational tours, in my mind, is to use skills that we tackle across the curriculum. On returning to our own school, we can then share successful learning in a fun environment. The results can be amazing. Arriving back to school at midnight, however, may raise the question of “why?!

This trip demonstrated to me that experiences outside the classroom can really add to a pupil’s education. There isn’t much education in the classroom that can offer impact like our day in Glasgow. As head boy Freddie Garel said: “The day was amazing and everyone enjoyed the trip! The best bits were the flight and meeting new friends at Hillhead High.”

The educational tour in my mind is a cross-curricular experience that no child will ever forget, and one that all learners will embrace, be it students or staff.

Education is the most powerful weapon in which you can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela

Have you undertaken such a trip? Let us know below.

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