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School trip to Spain - advice for a novice

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by jackhold, Mar 6, 2010.

  1. Hi
    I'm an NQT working at a comprehensive school for boys. I never thought I'd be crazy enough to consider planning a school trip but it is something that keeps nagging me. I would never dream of opening it up as a whole-school trip and will sell it as a languages trip for my small GCSE group. Whenever I mention tge trip to colleagues I get a mixed reaction. Some think it is a great idea, some think the potential for problems is too great. This ranges from the logistics of kids staying in a room with a balcony, to them getting drunk to supervising them of an evening.
    I am writing for advice, help and suggestions.
    To reduce the potential for unpleasant accidents, I am keen to avoid outdoor pursuits or water parks which seem to be a common feature of trips to Spain. As it is a language trip, I would like to stick to things of cultural interest, from eating tapas in a restaurant to visiting football stadiums , bull rings, flamenco shows etc. For this reason, I am thinking Madrid.
    There are some (minor!) problems: I am a French specialist so my lack of language will become apparent immediately. Also, my knowledge of Spain and its culture is very limited. I am also conscious of problems relating to accommodation etc.
    Is Madrid a good location for a first time trip? Can anybody suggest another town? I thought Barcelona but as they speak Catalan it defeats the purpose of a Spanish trip. What do you think of host families? I was told this eliminates the problem of the kids gettung up to mischief together when they get bored of an evening but I also think it might be enough to put them off the trip completely. If host families are not possible, how can we keep the boys entertained and occupied of an evening and stop them running riot in the hotels?

    Sorry for all the questions but I am keen to do this but too many worries are preventing me from committing. Any and all suggestions welcome!
    Muchas gracias a todos!

     
  2. I think your enthusiasm is to be commended and I also think you are right to be cautious. Running trips these days is a huge H&S issue and (please don't take this the wrong way) I think you should only undertake it if you have the support and guidance of a more experienced colleague. We often "train up" colleagues in their second or third year but with a mentor as it were who can guide them.If you are not that confident about the culture and the language I'd be careful too - you would need to take at least one person who is a Spanish specialist. I recently ran my first trip to the country of my third language and even though I am a veteran of over 30 trips I made sure I had a specialist with me.

    A few other points - I'd go with a company - it takes a lot of the stress out of it as they will book everything, will have lots of experience in what to visit and they have to sort any problems for you but you will need a bigger group - cost will be prohibitive otherwise. An exchange is massive to set up and could entail all sorts of problems that frankly you need to be experienced to deal with.There si no way I would do this in a country/language I was less confident in. I wouldn't trust one way host families as often they are just doing it for hte money adn you have no idea what you are going to encounter. At least with exchanges the schools know the families and there is an element of mutual trust.

    On residential kids will not get bored if you plan end to end activities form the moment they get up to when they go to bed. Keep 'em busy is my motto. Evening activities - football outside if summer, quizzes, drama evenings if you have to be inside. Don't assume they are going to run riot - with good planning and constant supervision (you are full on 24/24 virtually) there is no need for this - but if you think they will do this don't take them fullstop.

    Balconies can be an issue - a means of escape/entry that you don't need. Ensure they can be locked and make it part of the behaviour contract that they don't put a toe on the balcony.

    Hope that helps. If you email me at redpens@live.com I'll sendyou my dept guide on how to run trips.
     
  3. I agree with redpens - it's great that you're wanting to plan a trip.
    It can be such a fun experience for the kids going on the trip but you
    should also be clear not to take on too much at once.
    You should
    most certainly take a Spanish specialist and if staffing allows, an
    experienced member of staff too who would support you well. If your GCSE
    group is small and you can only take one other member staff then your
    Spanish specialist should also be experienced.
    Personally I would
    steer clear of water based activities for your first trip as this can
    bring additional risk assessment issues. If the school hasn't done the
    trip before, it is likely that you'll have to do a pre-visit too
    (preferably with your trip colleague) although I went with my husband
    for my first pre-visit (France). I also made the mistake of doing it all
    in my own time, fitting in 5days of activities into a Saturday and
    Sunday and was then knackered when I went back to school. For a later
    pre-visit (Spain), my colleague and I went out Thurday night and came
    back on Sunday morning - far less stressful and gave me time to recover!
    Certainly
    get all students AND parents to sign a behaviour contract as part of
    the paperwork for the trip. I would also add a clause/disclaimer in your
    initial letter to parents (when offering places) about students who
    fail to show they can behave in school are less likely to obtain a place
    on the trip.It's YOUR trip at the end of the day and you should NOT be
    forced into taking any child whose behaviour may jeopardise the trip,
    not to mention take up all of your energy in keeping an eye on them
    throughout the trip.Find out what the school policy, if there is one, is
    on filling places for trips. Is it first come first serves, in which
    case you'll need to review the list at the end of the day (with a couple
    of experienced members of staff who can comment on whether there are
    any dodgy students on your list), is it names out of hat or can you be
    selective. Whichever way, you must make sure you are comfortable with
    the group you are taking.
    Depending on the age group, yes alcohol
    may be a problem but I have been on Yr10/Yr11 trips before and we have
    made it very very clear beforehand that cigarettes and alcohol are
    banned and that any student found with such stuff will have it
    immediately confiscated, receive a phone call home and SMT will also be
    updated. It will also go on their school record. It is important to get
    parents on board too.
    As redpens says, do organise it through a
    company. Search around for quotes. EST and NST are a good start. I am
    sure others will post their recommendations too.
    I have sent you a
    personal message - if you email me that way, I can send you my
    itineraries from Barcelona and Madrid plus risk assessments.
    Fire
    away with any other questions you may have.
    Pogo



     
  4. Hi ...
    try www.myfabschooltrip.com
    They cater for all
    needs and they've got really competitive prices and itineraries plus
    they aren't a tour operator so they are more into the real Spain and
    language exposure.
    telf number +34 680624507
     
  5. Have you canvassed your GCSE group to see what interest there is? You may find that when it actually comes to commiting to the trip that numbers are lower than you might hope. So you need to hink through whether you will extend the offer. In which case, who would it be offered to? If you go with a company you will need to reach a certain number of students before you get a second free staff place.
    I certainly agree that you need an experienced teacher on the trip. Experience is more important than being a Spanish specialist, imo.
     
  6. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Lead commenter

    If they (you) are not a tour operator, how is financial protection taken care of?

    And why is your web-site still only "under construction"?
     
  7. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Lead commenter

    First let me say I love Barcelona and I love Catalunya.

    But they are not the best place for Spanish language groups. Sure, everybody will reply in Spanish if addressed in the language, especially by a youngster.

    But your pupils will not be surrounded by the language - Catalan is the preferred language of many of the people and this is what they use every day.
     

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