If one of our overall aims of Physical Education and School Sport is to increase the motivation to stay active beyond the school years, then Tours and Trips can positively contribute to that. They can do this through many ways, but mainly through creating positive memories and experiences associated with being active. Also they can inspire children to take the first step in being active outside of the school context. As a department we try to offer lots of different opportunities for our pupils over the course of an academic year with regards to tours and trips.
Major Overseas Sports Tour
Every two to three years we offer to parents of pupils in Year 11 to 13 to go on an overseas sports tour in one of our major extra-curricular sports of rugby, football or cricket. This is done on a rotational basis and take place at the beginning of the summer holidays. Three years ago we went to New Zealand on a Rugby Tour, this year we visited the U.S. for football and when we return for September we will start the planning for a cricket tour to the Caribbean in three years time. We do this for a number of reasons on top of the main one of creating positive experiences; build cohesion and friendships out of year groups and cliques, intensive tactical and technical development in their chosen sport and as a thank you to the pupils for their continued commitment, service and loyalty to school sport.
Minor Overseas Sports Tour
Every two years we offer to Year 9 and 10 students the chance to go for an extended weekend to Europe on a combined sports tour at the beginning of the Easter. This will be for a combination of sports either from the curriculum or extra-curricular and pupils will be expected to play and train in all of them. Recently we have been going to Holland, but we have had good experiences in France, Spain and Germany.
Domestic Sports Tour
Every year we offer a domestic residential sports tour to our Year 7 and 8s for rugby, football and cricket. This is either at a weekend in term time, the first weekend of a half term or during the last two weeks in the summer term. Currently we take Year 7 Football to Shrewsbury, Year 8 Rugby to the Gower and Year 8 Cricket to Bideford but this changes regularly. It usually involves extended training, playing against a local club side and socialising with the opposition at a BBQ or evening meal that includes an awards ceremony. This is a very cheap and basic tour, but hugely enjoyed by our younger years.
Until recently we took the whole of the Year 7 out on a 2 day OAA residential trip. The benefits of this trip were considerable, especially in building friendships and confidence and allowing our pupils to experience non traditional physical activities, something our curriculum provision is weak at. This was done with a major company and was very successful for over a decade, however staffing issues have prevented this from happening at the moment. We are currently looking to reintroduce this, combined with healthy eating and teaching the pupils how to cook and prepare their own meals.
World Class Sports in World Class Venues
This initiative was introduced by a new member of staff in the department a few years ago and has become very popular. Once a term we will provide the opportunity for any pupil (and parent) to watch a fixture in a sport that is on our curriculum at the highest domestic level. This year we watched basketball, hockey and cricket, getting over 120 pupils and parents to watch a 20/20 Big Bash Fixture. These are run in the evenings after school or at the weekend. Most clubs offer excellent prices for schools making the cost very affordable. It is great to see pupils across year groups socialising with other whilst watching sport and it is a chance for the PE Department to interact with parents in a positive environment. Interestingly it is not necessarily the ‘sporty’ pupils who always come on this trip. It definitely has had a positive impact. For example at least 8 pupils to my knowledge joined their local basketball clubs after watching the fixture this year. There is something special and unique in watching a live match that television just can’t do justice to, and it is this experience that can offer important benefits thats supports our overall aim.
St. George’s Park Residential
All pupils in Year 9 who are interested in taking GCSE PE are offered this experience. They offer a number of different options for schools, but the Education Experience is by far the best in my opinion and can be tailored to your needs. It is a long day for us, due to the extensive travel, but throughly worth it. It also helps the pupils make a decision whether PE is the right option for them and allows them to see where the subject could possible take them.
GCSE and A-Level PE trips
As we have small groups for both GCSE and A-Level students we offer them all one trip each year. This is done on a two year rotation of one year visiting a University Sports Science Department and experiencing physical fitness testing and sports psychology training and one year visiting either a professional sports club or training centre for elite athletes. They are cheap, usually tailored to our needs and adds depth to the students understanding of the courses they are taking and are well worthwhile experiences for them.
I hugely rely on the support and goodwill of my department to offer these experiences, particularly as most are run in their own time. There are always questions about the affordability of what we provide, the potential pressure that we might put on parents by offering these experiences and the increased accountability and legislation that now comes with running these trips. They are time consuming to lead especially on top of an already large workload and at times the worry of getting something wrong is incredibly high. In the future the answer may be that they do not run as they are counterproductive or not worthwhile for the time invested, but at the moment we as a department feel they are positive experiences that only enhance our curricular and extra-curricular provision.