School Trips: current context and options

In partnership with The Clore Duffield Foundation


8th December 2023

On behalf of the Clore Duffield Foundation, CfEY has undertaken a rapid review of the current state of school trips in England, as well as how more children and young people from non-visiting schools can benefit from them.

Our approach combined a rapid desk review and interviews with senior leaders across various sectors: we met with individuals from heritage organisations, youth charities, museum trusts, and multi-academy trusts to gather their perspectives and expertise. We sought to reveal both the value of school trips and the main barriers to participation that make them hard for some children and young people to access. Our interviews, in particular, teased out certain concerns about the current landscape surrounding school trips: many individuals felt that the impact of these trips was endangered by pressures on schools, both in terms of budget, curriculum requirements, and teacher time. There was a sense that it is increasingly difficult to engage ‘harder to reach’ schools that are firefighting many social and financial issues, leaving little time for the development of engaging trips.

However, as our previous report and current work with the National Citizens Service showed, this project also revealed the crucial importance of school trips in levelling the playing field for cultural enrichment, and enabling access to culture, heritage, and community spaces for students from all backgrounds. Our research demonstrated how these experiences enhanced young people’s confidence, community engagement, social and cultural capital, as well as traits like creativity and teamwork. The analysis, commissioned by the Clore Duffield Foundation, comes at a pivotal moment in post-pandemic recovery, as we found that the interruption to trips during the pandemic seemed to have a greater impact on schools that were already less likely to make these trips; in particular SEN schools and schools in low-income communities. Members of cultural and heritage organisations also reported a deterioration in students’ confidence, engagement, and social and emotional mental health. Against this background, it is more important than ever that schools can offer their students memorable experiences and cultural enrichment, which can aid their engagement with both the wider curriculum and the world beyond it.

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