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It's the Best Classroom in the World

St Anne’s Roman Catholic High School – Our Experiences with Anglia Tours

Jenny Howe is Head of History at St Anne’s RC High School in Stockport. She has been running guided history trips with Anglia to Ypres & Somme and to Berlin for over 10 years. We spoke to Jenny about the benefits and challenges of taking students on History trips and why she always chooses to run guided trips with Anglia.

I’ve been running History trips for over 10 years and now run two trips each year. We take Year 9’s to the WW1 Battlefields every year because it ties in with the topics they are studying at GCSE. We follow Edexcel and this year we were able to focus on Surgery & Treatment in line with the syllabus. This trip is good for the enrichment of the students, regardless of their studies, so since the school opted for a three year KS4, we are now starting to take students in Year 9 who haven’t opted for History. We take Years 10 and 11 to Berlin, again for GCSE. In the past we have covered both Nazi Germany and the Cold War however next time our focus will be just the Cold War.

I took my first overseas school trip with Anglia. I had received a brochure from Anglia and then, as it was my first ever foreign trip, I chose to join an Anglia familiarisation trip to Berlin run by Diane Coyne. She was really helpful and helped me to select the hotel that was right for my school. She also suggested Ian would be a good guide for us and he subsequently guided us on our first trip. We were recently able to show OFSTED inspectors the risk assessment I did for the trip.

It also meant that I was able to meet with Ian who led our first trip for us. Because of their help, our first trip was so well risk assessed so much so that Ofsted have used my risk assessment for Berlin as an exemplar.

With Anglia, everything is included. When I receive a price from Anglia, it’s always a straight fee. You are told clearly exactly what is included. This year I was required to get prices from other companies and the thing that stood out was that they initially looked cheaper, but then they didn’t include things like packed lunches and entrance fees.

I visibly relax when our guide arrives. A guided tour means you are in safe hands and it takes a huge amount of stress away. You have day to day issues on a school trip, but you know as soon as you touch base with your guide, that you are supported and reassured. There is so much to think about, that if I had to do the guiding as well, it would be too hard.

Each trip is known by reputation. I launch the trips in assembly. Over the years the trips have built a great reputation and the kids really want to go on it. This year we had 68 children wanting to go on the Berlin trip, so we had to limit it to just Year 11’s. We usually have someone from Anglia come along to our pre-tour parents’ evening, which is nice for the parents.  They’ve spent a lot of money and this way they can see what they are getting for it.

These trips are a highlight for the students and the school. They always talk about it and it’s highly respected. Also, it’s good PR for the school as we tweet about the trip, put up displays in the foyer and we are able to get parental feedback.

It’s the best classroom in the world. What we have learnt on tour comes in really useful in the classroom and the students refer back to it. For example, I will be teaching Medicine at the start of Year 10 and I know the students will refer back to it. We use the Anglia resource booklets back in the classroom too. Also I see the children develop from a social and moral perspective; the trip brings out the best in them.

Our guides really bring history to life. Our itinerary is not set in stone, sometimes with the help of the guide, we do change it when we are there. For example a one time a boy announced he knew about a relative who had fought in the First World War. So our guide altered the trip just so we could visit his grave and allow the boy a chance to lay a cross there.

Our guides are so knowledgeable. This year I mentioned about a poem by William Noel Hodgson ‘Before Action’ and our guide Philip took us Mametz to see the Devonshire Cemetery, where he is buried.  Ian has always been really knowledgeable about the Manchester Regiment. A local family, called the Greg family, lost two sons in the First World War and he took us to the grave of one of the sons. It’s good to relate it back to our area.

The guides also help with general organisation on the trip.  They are a great help in getting us moving, on and off the bus, finding toilets etc. Also we can tweak the itinerary on the day dependent on the weather conditions.

We are making memories for the students. It’s seeing different reactions from the children. They are buzzing from the word go and they interact well with Ian. He’s on their wavelength and they like talking to him and asking questions. It’s not all work, they do have fun and socialise too. Students come back to see me after they have left and they always remember the trip.