What’s the value of that visit? (Part 1)

This post is the first one relating to ‘Wats-Education’

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Wats-Education is a start-up Educational Consultancy. We aim to offer high quality support and advice for Sites, Venues and Visitor Centres to improve and develop planning, activities and environments for learning for educational/school visits and commercial public visits.

With our collective experience of almost 40 years as education professionals, teachers and school leaders from Early Years to Key Stage 2, we are well placed to work with clients to develop exciting new or existing environments.

We also have additional specialism in understanding and developing access arrangements for Special Educational Needs and Disability.

Having worked in education for many years, we have been on countless educational visits, some fantastic, others that have left us a little flat and disappointed. On those occasions  when we have found ourselves saying; “This is good, but it would be even better if…” we realised there was an opportunity to offer our experience to help.

We want to help improve planning, access and variety of experience either to existing environments or to help develop new attractions, both for marketing within Education sector or for commercial public events and visits.

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On the 6th of May this year I started a survey of teachers and educators to discover the motivation for the inclusion of Educational visits in the curriculum. I felt that while it seemed obvious, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of making assumptions.

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I had my own clear opinions and was interested to see whether or not others shared my views or if there was more to it. The survey was responded to by teachers from Primary (inc. Early Years), Secondary and Special schools from across the UK and one from a home educated family. Some teachers from overseas also responded including a small number from New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

There were 10 questions:

  1. Why do you include educational visits in your curriculum?
  2. What do you look for in an educational visit?
  3. What do you think is the most important factor for a successful educational visit?
  4. Where do you find out about potential venues/sites/centres for educational visits?
  5. In no more than 30 words, describe the best out of school learning experience you have shared with children.
  6. In no more than 30 words, describe the worst  out of school learning experience you have shared with children.
  7. Is it important to you on an educational visit, that the venue is well prepared for your visit and has contingency for unforeseen events?
  8. Should venues have a selection of different contextual activities for children or do you think it is acceptable to focus on one specific activity?
  9. If you could guarantee one outcome of an out of school learning experience, what would it be?
  10. What would make you decide to make a return visit to any given venue, either annually or otherwise?

The survey closed on 22nd June.

Results Concept. Results word on white background

The Results:

Why do you include educational visits in your curriculum?

(This question allowed more than one answer)

 

85% of respondents said that the main reason they included visits was to give children experiences beyond the classroom.

62% said that it was to provide fun/engaging topic starter/closer.

61% backed this by saying that it was to give children that ‘something extra’ that school cannot provide. WOW Factor.

There were other responses but these were the most significant. I don’t think that there are any surprises here. The purpose is surely to get children interested and excited about a topic/theme/idea. I am not sure that anyone would argue that these are some of the key reasons for taking children out of school to do something that will excite them and either set up their learning experience or consolidate it. While it seemed obvious, it was good to see the statistics match up.

 

What do you look for in an educational visit?

(This question allowed more than one answer)

 

70% of respondents said that Hands On activities were top of their priority list.

63% said Value for Money

49% On-Site resources and pre-planned/prepared activities

All this seems reasonable. Value for Money is a tough one to quantify. In my opinion that mean that each child comes away having had an experience that makes it worth the time, effort, planning and cost (let’s not forget that often families have to make their ‘voluntary contribution’). They come away with something they can actually use as part of their learning.

What surprised me was that ‘Expert Knowledge’ was the lowest factor when looking into an educational visit (35%). Also low was the Learning Environment itself (38%). I personally think a venue should look ready and be prepared for its guests. This is of course contextual. A beautiful sparking, neat and pristine farm, looks wrong, but an untidy, badly arranged and poorly organised museum is also not up to the job.

 

What do you think is the most important factor for a successful educational visit?

(Only one answer allowed)

 

I was surprised at the outcome of this question as it related so closely to the previous one.

When pushed to only give one response, the Learning Environment came out as the most important single factor for a successful visit (23%). So perhaps we do want to take our children to places which are prepared, set up, organised and ready for the visit with plenty of materials and resources available to support the context of the visit, much like we do in our schools and classrooms.

Hands On activities were again an important choice (19%) and an experienced and professional delivery by on site staff (15%) completed the top 3 factors for making a visit successful.

Some of the best visits I have been on have been made by the people we meet, some of the worst the same. If children meet someone who can engage and excite them, it will set them up for the whole experience. When they are by a tired and bored looking individual, who cannot wait to go home, the experience is ruined. All venues and sites which run visits for educational purposes should be sure that their staff are fit for purpose (and most definitely are).

 

Where do you find out about potential venues/sites/centres for educational visits?

(This question allowed more than one answer)

 

I didn’t expect any shocks with this question. Let’s be honest, as teachers there are three main ways of finding somewhere to take children. We know a place because we have been before, a colleague has been and told us how good it was and because we googled it!

These were overwhelmingly the top 3:

78% Web Search

70% Personal/Family visit

70% Professional Discussion/Dialogue

Social Media came out at 23%, so perhaps this is no the tool for professional discussion and dialogue. As more and more teachers and venues take to social media perhaps there is greater and greater opportunity for people to share opinions.

All types of written media (Local and Regional Newspapers, Tourist Information) were not a place for teacher to find ideas for visits, nor were random generic emails (10%).

This tells me that the best advertisement is a good experience. If you can deliver that and send people/children/teachers away happy and you will get more business. Teachers talk to each other and we like a recommendation!

recommend

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I will leave Part One here now and return to it at a later date where I will look at the written feedback from Best and Worst visits, why they were or were not successful and what can be learned from this.

If you have any questions on this post so far, please feel free to comment and share.

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Posted on 03/07/2014, in Ed. Visits, T&L and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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