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A Tour With a Difference - 'The Best Visit I Have Ever Been On'

Anglia Tours followed the full tour planning process with St Peter's Collegiate School. Here's how Daniel Sheriff's summarises the success of his first guided history tour.....

Over three days in June the staff and pupils of St Peter’s Collegiate School Wolverhampton, travelled out to France and Belgium for the school’s first ever tour of the battlefields of the First World War. For Daniel Sherrif, who had been tasked with putting this tour together by his Head of Department, it was the culmination of eighteen month’s work – it was also, in his words, “the best visit I have ever been on”.

The need to demonstrate that a school trip offers value for money is a vitally important part of the process a trip leader has to go through when seeking authority from the SLT. For that reason it is understandable that sometimes there may be a temptation to opt for the cheapest quote on the assumption that all Tour Operators offer the same service.  Well that was certainly not Daniel’s experience.

When I went on a trip as a student there was just too much dead time. That wasn’t the case with Anglia Tours. Every site we visited added value to the tour. Every single penny of the money we spent was so worthwhile’.

So what was it that made the difference?

In part the answers lies in the fact that the knowledge and experience of the Anglia’s guides who accompanied the school, enabled Daniel’s school to achieve far more in 3 days than many tours would have done, in some cases in 4 or even 5 days. From a financial point of view this meant less time away from the school and consequently a reduced need to find cover staff.

It was also the fact that Anglia Tours had provided a fully-inclusive price with no ‘hidden extras’. So Daniel could be confident that the price he had quoted to parents at the start was what they would be paying.

Above all it was the fact that Daniel knew that the tour had delivered exactly what he had wanted it to when he began the planning process. Not only had his students enjoyed an incredible educational experience, one which would help further their understanding of the First World War, they had developed a far wider understanding of the conflict and what they had both seen and heard would remain with them for years to come.

As Daniel said “many of my students have said to me that it was the best weekend of their lives and we received many emails from parents expressing their gratitude for giving their children this unique opportunity. It has stoked their passion for history in a way which we could never have done in the classroom”

So you might be forgiven for thinking that, having worked so hard to organise this tour, Daniel could take the opportunity to relax a little before thinking about whether to run it again in 2017. Not a bit of it. Daniel was already looking to modify the itinerary to ensure the trip would be able to support the new History GCSE specifications in place from September 2016.

“The new GCSE has a study of the historical environment in it many of which make use of the Battlefields of World War One. We will be focussing on the History of Warfare and are really keen to offer this opportunity to all our year 10 Historians”

The plan is now for around 40 GCSE students to travel out to Belgium and France in July 2017. They will start their tour in Ypres looking at the opening phases of the First World War before, on the second day, moving down to the Somme where the focus will be the development of tactics and technology from 1916 to the Armistice – but this trip won’t end there. The group will spend the final 2 days in Normandy looking in some depth at the Second World War and in particular Operation Overlord, the D Day landings.

But it seems one tour a year is no longer enough for Daniel. Having had the pleasure of seeing his students so enthused and engaged he is now keen to offer a new tour to his Sixth Formers – a 3 day visit to Poland to include a full study day at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

Having never before organised a tour to Poland you might ask how would Daniel know where begin? Well he already knew the answer to that one.