A school trip to London poses a unique challenge for teachers: where do you start? There are so many options that combine fun and learning in the capital that it can be difficult to decide what to include and what to save for another time. We believe that choosing a theme is a good way to start building your itinerary. Here are 3 ideas.
If you are putting together a school trip to the nation’s capital you need to make sure that your pre-planning and itinerary are water tight. The city is magical, and your children will soak up its art, culture, politics and history without even realising that they are learning. However, that same wide array of choice can also be a challenge.
To make your visit successful for both you and your students, we recommend that you think about the sort of experience you are seeking. It’s simply not possible to do everything in one visit so the more defined your theme, the more your students are likely to absorb.
We’ve put together a list of themes, and the main attraction on which they hinge, to give you an idea of how you can start shaping the itinerary of your school trip to London.
Politics & History: Houses of Parliament
For teachers who have an agenda that is more history and politics driven, the school trip to London should definitely include a visit to the Houses of Parliament.
Nothing could be more fundamentally important to the education of your children than a chance to explore the very seat of the nation’s government. Whether you are teaching them about the history of England’s governance, training them in the skills of debate, or introducing them to the responsibilities of citizenship, this attraction serves as a powerful and impressive lesson.
There are multiple opportunities at this venue for an educational experience.
- An informative tour of the buildings and a chance to visit the observation gallery to see MPs or Lords in debate.
- The MP of the area where your school is based will be asked to join the visit so that the children have a chance to meet their representative.
- A selection of workshops covering speed debating, voting, campaigning and law making.
Other Things in the Area
As you know, the Houses of Parliament are only one of the important sites related to the historical and present government of the UK. If your group is visiting this attraction then you should also take the time to show them Westminster Abbey as the site where the monarch is traditionally crowned; Jewel Tower, one of 2 surviving structures from the original Palace of Westminster; and Parliament Square, where many iconic events in the political life of the nation have taken place.
Science & Nature: The Natural History Museum
While the British Museum and the National Gallery certainly hog the limelight when it comes to must-see cultural attractions in London, you might prefer to take your children to somewhere that is less overwhelming but equally awe-inspiring.
We always encourage teachers to consider spending part of their London school trip in South Kensington’s museum quarter, and specifically in the Natural History Museum.
This museum offers a variety of educational experiences.
- The museum itself is a stunning example of neo-gothic architecture that is situated in such a way that students have an unobstructed view of the magnificent entrance facade and can get to grips with the Alfred Waterhouse’s vision for a ‘cathedral to nature’.
- Exhibits covering everything natural from fossils to volcanoes to dinosaurs to creepy crawlies.
- Inspiring temporary exhibitions with great collateral to help you plan related lessons and discussions.
Other Things in the Area
After you and your students have had their fill of science and nature in London, you have a few nearby options to try out.
You can continue the science theme in the Science Museum, which is just behind the Natural History Museum. Alternatively you can change pace entirely and head off to the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens via The Royal Albert Hall. Both of these attractions have iconic status in London and afford a good chance to refresh your students’ concentration after they’ve spent time in the museums.
Literature & Drama: Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
If you want to expose your children to something quintessentially “London” and at the same time find a way to bring their Shakespeare set texts to life, the Globe Theatre should be on your trip agenda.
This venue has several options set in place to help you inspire your students.
- Tours of the theatre for your group to help them build a mental relationship with the playwright and the Elizabethan theatre experience.
- Workshops that will give children the chance to explore Shakespeare’s themes and plots.
- Workshops to introduce your group to the logistics of putting together a theatre performance.
Other Things in the Area
If you have time to include more than the Globe in your school visit then there are some important related attractions in the area.
The original site of the Globe Theatre is a couple of streets away and will continue your drama theme. It’s also worth stopping by the archaeological site where the Rose Playhouse, Bankside’s first Tudor theatre, was excavated in 1989. The group who run this venue is also in the process of putting together workshops and tours that will be offered to secondary school pupils.
Of course these are not the only themes that can be explored on a school trip to London. Let us help you capitalise on the capital’s educational potential: we can design and build the perfect tour for your school group or we can inspire you with a selection of tried and tested school visit itineraries. If you’re tasked with preparing a trip to London, give our team a call and they will give you the advice and support you need in the run up to your visit and throughout your stay.