By Jake Wiid, Educational Visits Adviser, EVOLVEAdvice
For many schools and educators, the thought of running off-site visits for students during the pandemic is challenging at best. But the great benefits of running educational visits for students’ well-being and learning development make it even more important for schools to have a programme of outdoor learning in place during this period.
With many countries opening back up, schools are starting to resume educational visits, be it day visits, residential stays or international travel. So, I’ve outlined four key areas for schools to give particular attention.
When planning a visit, Visit Leaders should first consider its educational purpose. How can this link to the curriculum, the school ethos, and the wider educational gains?
This is especially important during a pandemic. All visits need to be balanced with the risk to staff and students as well as the impact on staff cover and capacity within the school.
It is well documented that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on both children and adults' mental health and well-being. A number of research papers have been written on this, and of note is Natural England's The People and Nature Survey for England: Children’s survey (Experimental Statistics). It reinforces the importance of getting young people outside the classroom.
When planning a trip in a COVID landscape, it is vital that you give particular attention to the following important areas:
1. Skills fade
During the pandemic, all but very local visits stopped. For many schools, activities did not restart for months and, in some cases, over a year.
This in itself posed 'skills fade' (a lesser-known risk in the education world).
For most staff in schools, running school visits is second nature and is part of their normal teaching role. However, as off-site activities had come to a complete stop, with no continuing professional development (CPD), it is likely that holes might appear as some staff may have become somewhat ‘rusty’.
2. Finance and contracts
Most schools' financial management and contracting are part and parcel of running school visits. However, the pandemic has brought questions about how schools contract external providers and services.
If your school is making new bookings, you should ensure that you understand how the terms and conditions will apply in the event of cancellation due to COVID (for example, quarantine, lockdown, or travel restrictions).
Many insurance providers are not covering for COVID cancellations, and your school must have procedures in place, including contracts with parents, to ensure that they are also aware of the terms and conditions.
3. International visits
When planning overseas visits, careful consideration should be given to the local laws and customs in the country to be visited, the current travel requirements, and COVID restrictions.
4. EU Specific Impact: Brexit
For those of you in non-EU countries:
It's worth noting that since Brexit, UK travellers are subject to different requirements travel to EU countries, such as:
- 3-6 months validity on their passport; and
- Passport not issued more than 10 years ago.
For those of you in the UK:
- The EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) has been replaced with the GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card).
- It is advisable to review the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) formerly FCO Travel Advice prior to travel.
- You may also find the Re-Open Europe App useful, which can be downloaded from https://reopen.europa.eu/en.
Free e-update from EVOLVEadvice
There are many more considerations when planning visits, and we have put together a free e-update (Password: COVIDEVC) which expands on this article.
Jake Wiid at EVOLVEadvice is a CIS Affiliated Consultant
- Student well-being