"Learning Outside of The Classroom!" by Vera Jajechnyk

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If your school celebrates and values Learning Outside the Classroom and this is part of your Vision for a quality education – why not look at the LOtC Awards.

At St. John’s Catholic School we are very proud of achieving Silver Status for Learning Outside the Classroom and we are currently working towards Gold. In order to apply there is clear information on the LOtC website and you can start with Bronze status. There is a lot of paperwork to submit in order to evidence the many strands that are required. However, if you are on this journey, I recommend that you set up a folder for LOtC and start saving evidence in the folder.

What are the main advantages of teaching outside the classroom?
The pupils remember what they have learnt as they are engaged and involved in their learning. As a London school we have access to so many places and it is important that we educate children to be ‘Londoners’ and make the most of this amazing city. As well as the amazing links to the curriculum, being confident users of public transport is so important!

The best outcomes are when the children go on a trip as a way of immersing them into a new topic. Their knowledge and understanding and ability to apply this new knowledge is beyond what they can learn from the internet or books.

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How can LOtC make a difference to the progress a child makes in school?

Children are stimulated to write when they return from a trip. We have a Learning Outside the Classroom Journal in which pupils can write about their trips. This includes the opportunity for the pupils to choose their own writing style to report on the trip eg diary, letter to provide independent writing opportunities. The work the pupils complete following on from a trip is often of a higher quality.

How do you decide where to go and what are your main criteria?
It is great to try new venues and opportunities and we are always open to trying new experiences. We encourage teachers to book free trips so that the children get as many experiences as possible - museums, theatre, places of worship etc, with as little cost to the school or families. Links can be with any curriculum area.

What are the main challenges you have to face?
The cost of trips on a coach are so expensive - we now only use public transport. The furthest we have been on public transport is the Harry Potter Experience on  2 tubes, British Rail and a bus!!!  So this does not stop us!

Number one tip for teachers planning a school trip?

Take advantage of the many free trip opportunities! Always be on the lookout for funded opportunities and try new things!

Vera Jajechnyk is the Head of School at St John's Catholic School.