An accessible and inclusive study trip needs more than just making sure every student can attend, writes Petra Albrecht.

Trips can have had a profound impact on students personal growth and academic development. For students accessing SEN support, they can also help to make them feel welcomed and included. Exposure to new languages, customs, and ways of learning can stimulate students’ minds and encourage them to think creatively and critically. And seeing historical landmarks or artefacts brings lessons to life, helping students gain a deeper understanding of a subject. Learners with SEND benefit from the outcome-based affordances, skill acquisition and learning engagement-related benefits of study trips. Additionally, they are an effective way of enhancing relationships between teacher and student.

But school trips are not a mandatory part of the National Curriculum, so schools have the responsibility to widen access and make trips more accessible for all students without support from the Government. This can be a stressful process for teachers, so here are some tips to make study trips more inclusive this year during Children’s Mental Health Week:

Make considerations early
The key to making sure that every student can take part in the study trip is forward planning. Bring students with SEN and disabilities into the room when planning a trip. Take into account their needs and build around this when deciding on a destination and when creating the itinerary. It can be a surefire way to empower those students, while making them feel seen and heard. This is an equitable approach to planning that will encourage more engagement from learners with SEN and disabilities.

Flexible Itineraries
While walking tours and museums are sometimes the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a study trip, the prospect of spending hours on your feet can feel off-putting for many students, and not possible for others. Break the day into shorter chunks so the day feels more achievable for all students and build in backup plans in case the activity is flooded with crowds. A great way to achieve this is by choosing a travel management company that has strong relationships with partners overseas that can cater for specific needs in a study trip itinerary.

■ Reichstag Building Berlin.

Build an educated and informed team
Invest in your staff. Training for teachers will help them navigate unfamiliar situations when planning and during a study trip. An educated team can help choose truly inclusive vendors and activities during the trip. If that isn’t possible, speak to the experts at travel management companies about any unique requirements when planning. They can advise, support and prepare you for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise on the trip which could trigger students. Introducing calm spaces as a checkpoint for any overwhelmed students is one of many ways they can help your team.

Learning support assistants should go for free
Financial barriers are one of many reasons why students with SEN or disabilities will feel turned off by the prospect of an overseas trip, with overnight stays. Ensure there is continuity in the students’ care by extending access to their support worker or carer without any additional cost to the student and their parents.

Accessible transport and accommodation is a bare minimum requirement
It goes without saying that the accommodation has to be accessible, with wheelchair access and roll-in showers. Focusing on a more central place to stay can reduce walking time, and therefore keep students’ energy for the things that matter. A travel management company will know the best areas for easy access to the itinerary, and will be aware of the accessible hostels or hotels to go to. As previously mentioned, choosing a destination that is known for its accessible public transport is ideal, although most European cities have wheelchair ramps and adequate accessibility provisions. 

Petra Albrecht
Author: Petra Albrecht

Petra Albrecht
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Petra Albrecht is the acting Head of Diversity Study Trips, the education division for travel management company, Diversity Travel.



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