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"This trip reminded them about what is actually important in the world"

Questions for Kew House School

Trip to Berlin and Krakow  

Martyn Hale teaches at Kew House School, an independent school in West London. Over the years he has run a range of guided history trips with Anglia Tours. We spoke to him about his latest trip to Berlin and Krakow.

Holocaust school trip


How many times have you travelled with Anglia?

This will be the 13th year with Anglia. It has been at least once a year, there have been occasions where I have done 3 in a year. For example in 2018 I ran tours to the WW1 battlefields and Berlin & Krakow as well as a visit to battlefields for parents.

Why do you choose a tour operator to organise your trip?

We use a tour operator because it makes the process of booking a visit an easy one. An operator  has contacts and links with organisations that may have benefits. As a teacher, it is incredibly busy sorting children out for a visit. Using a company makes more sense.

How do you plan/generate interest for this trip in the school. Is it a regular date in the school diary?

When you first launch a trip it can be difficult. When I started Kew House in 2014 I struggled to get sufficient numbers as I was competing with other departments and their overseas visits. I felt that parents and students wanted to see what the trip was like before committing to going on it. The parents at my school support visits that are educational and worthwhile and not trips that can be seen as a ‘jolly outing’ You need to build a buzz, build a sense of importance. Posters around school, assemblies, photograph displays and the usual letters to parents. Since 2014 I have run successful, well attended visits. It’s important to report the experiences of the students to parents via newsletters or social media. This way parents will learn of the value of these visits. You want the students waiting for their turn to go on the visit. For example, 2018 was the first Berlin and Krakow visit for Kew House, this was for Year 10 through to 6th Form. I now have year 9 students asking when their visit will be.

Do you have a consultation visit from Anglia and if so how does it help you?

I don’t for the tours I run regularly but I did when first thinking about a Berlin and Krakow visit. They are good to thrash ideas and discuss how the visit can run.

How do Anglia help you to plan the trip?

They suggest itineraries, a running order for the places we decide to visit and make recommendations based on their knowledge of what is going on in particular countries.

Why do you choose a guided trip and not self-guided?

From a safety point of view, I can keep an eye on students and deal with any issues necessary, such as illness. I can deal with a child without disrupting the talk that the students are being given. Also, the guides, who come from a range different backgrounds, give their take on the issues being discussed. It is also nice to stand back and listen to very knowledge and enthusiastic guides.

What extra knowledge did your guide bring to the trip?

Personal accounts of Germans living under Nazi rule and those that suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

Did your guide support you with other aspects of the organisation of the tour?   

Yes - Timings and suggestions when using public transport

What particular study topics does this support for you and how did the trip facilitate this? What are your study objectives?

The trip to Berlin and Krakow supported our GCSE students studying OCR ‘Living Under Nazi Rule 1933-1945’. The trip gave them a sense of chronology and strengthened their understanding of the course.

Some people say a trip like this doesn’t just help the students with their history studies but also helps them in their personal development, whether it be bonding as a group of students or changing how they look at the world. Has this happened on your trip?

For the students, the trip reminded them what is actually important in the world. It has reminded them just how lucky they are, that they should be thankful for what they have and that Instagram and Snapchat really are not that important. As the students were from different classes and years it also gave them an opportunity to bond.

What were the highlights of the trip for you?

The questions and discussions from, and amongst, the students were a highlight for me. The students were engaged throughout and were a credit to the school.

With photographs and details provided by a parent, we were able to visit Auschwitz where two members of his family perished. We were able to find their names on the pages that list all those who were killed.

Have the students said what their highlights were?

A highlight, if you can call it that, was their visit to Auschwitz. They said that it wasn’t until they visited, that they got a sense of the scale and suffering of those in the camps.

What are your top tips to other teachers thinking of taking a guided history trip?

In no particular order;

  • Don’t always go to the obvious places. Ask if Anglia to suggest different places from the norm, particularly if you don’t want to be overcrowded with other groups.
  • Keep the days busy. If you need to adapt a tour, it is better to have other places in reserve. Also – busy children are easier to manage than bored ones.
  • Visit the sites yourself first to get an idea of the place you are visiting.
  • The guides are approachable so do not hesitate to ask for changes or clarification.
  • Be clear on what you want from the trip. Is it remembrance? It is syllabus linked?
  • Make sure you brief Anglia and the guide about the students, their experience of the topic so far, their learning needs and the backgrounds of students. The guides are very good at bringing relevant information if it concerns a school or the background of the students.