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School trips and educational visits should be viewed as powerful, positive teaching tools that help enhance the social, personal and emotional development of all learners. Extra stimulation in new environments can be particularly beneficial to SEN pupils and can help teach life skills, build on social skills and improve independence and self- confidence.
The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) commissioned a survey through Teacher Voice which found that: 87% of teachers said that LOtC made lessons memorable and 77% agreed that it motivated and enthused young people with regards to their learning. Learning outside the classroom therefore adds value to each individual’s academic and personal development and should be embedded into the curriculum.
School trips provide unique opportunities for kinaesthetic learning i.e. ‘learning by doing’ and encourage students to engage with people, places and buildings in new ways. This is particularly beneficial for many SEN students who find visual and sensory experiences helpful to their learning and understanding. National Justice Museum Education use objects and archives from their museum collection in their learning activities to stimulate sensory learning.
Hands-on learning activities outside the classroom often lead to better achievement, standards, motivation, personal development and behaviour.( OFSTED: Learning outside the classroom How far should you go?). Children and young people are able to enjoy and achieve in new engaging ways.
Learning outside the classroom is rewarding and enriching for both teachers and pupils alike. Discovering new places such as churches, museums, galleries and law courts undoubtedly adds extra depth to pupils’ and students’ learning and experience.
Learning outside the classroom provides a vast learning experience with a variety of positive outcomes including:
-improved self-confidence and self-esteem
-ability to empathise and understand new perspectives
-increased aspirations and motivation
-enhanced team working and communication skills
-broader understanding of society
Although we believe that overall the memorable, creative learning experience from school trips and educational visits will have a positive effect on the social and emotional development of learners with SEN, it is important to remember that some young people may be overwhelmed by the new environment so planning in advance and discussing the upcoming opportunity may be beneficial. Many organisations (ourselves included) offer free familiarisation visits or pre-trip visits which may help to reduce any anxiety. Using images on websites to show young people where they are visiting and what to expect may also be helpful.
The National Justice Museum has experience of delivering educational workshops to engage learners of all ages and abilities. If you’re thinking of booking an educational visit for learners with additional needs, we encourage you to talk to us about how we can adapt our programme to make our sessions more accessible. We are very happy to tailor our packages to help meet the needs of your learners and to support you where we can, for example, we can provide resources in large print or print on different colours on request. We also provide risk assessments for schools which are useful when planning trips and reviewing access needs. In the near future we will be creating more bespoke SEND sessions. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
“Both students and teachers were a little apprehensive about the visit because of the difficulties the students face with new surroundings and the intimidating nature of the building. However, we were made to feel very comfortable and welcome at all times by the education team and museum staff and this had a big impact on the visit, making it a really fun, enjoyable and educational experience for all. Students who were nervous about entering the building at the start of the day, went away so enthused by their visit. We thoroughly enjoyed the CSI activity and the students engaged really well. We also enjoyed the tour and learnt a lot.” Sophie Holdway, Head of Secondary/ Life Skills Coordinator Brackenfield Special School
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