07 June 2024 • 3 Mins Read

How School Trips Can Improve Ofsted Ratings and Increase Student Attainment

School trips may seem like a luxury to some, but they can greatly enhance a student’s education and willingness to learn back in the classroom. Discover how school trips can benefit both students and schools when it comes to Ofsted evaluations.

While living costs are climbing, it can be difficult to justify to parents why school trips are beneficial to their children’s learning. Paying for their child to spend a day or more out of the classroom can seem counterproductive, and a waste of time and money—but this is not the case.

School trips are known to engage and enthuse students in ways that are limited in the confines of a school environment. Seeing and experiencing the subjects they are learning about brings to life a new perspective that will last during and after the trip, inspiring them to engage and learn, ultimately resulting in increased student attainment.

What is student attainment?

Attainment is a term used to measure the achievement of a student in comparison to the standardised performance expected of their age. It looks at various aspects of learning, including knowledge gain and skills development. Assessments, exams, grades, graduation rates, and more can all be used to measure attainment.

Across different education levels—from early childhood to higher education—attainment measures vary. Learning objectives and expectations of students differ, and attainment reflects this. It is an important metric for evaluating how effective educational systems are and also helps to identify areas for improvement. This ensures all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

How Ofsted uses student attainment in their evaluation

Ofsted is the non-ministerial government department of the UK responsible for inspecting and regulating educational institutions. This may sound complicated but, in short, Ofsted is there to ensure high standards of education and care for children and young people.

In its inspections, Ofsted uses student attainment as one of its key indicators, focusing on the following:

  • Performance data
  • Contextual considerations (eg. demographic, socioeconomic, and educational needs)
  • Progress and attainment disparities
  • Quality of teachings and learnings
  • School policies and practices

Overall, student attainment is a crucial aspect of Ofsted’s inspections. It provides insights into the quality and effectiveness of the education provided by schools and identifies any areas for improvement.

Barriers to student attainment

Sometimes, it can be difficult for students to achieve high attainment scores—and this is often not through any fault of their own. Many environmental and external factors can contribute to lower attainment scores. These include:

  • Socioeconomic factors: Lack of access to resources such as textbooks, technology, and extra-curricular activities due to economic struggle can slow academic progress. This will impact a student’s ability to succeed.
  • Cultural and language barriers: Students from diverse cultural backgrounds, and those whose first language is not English, may face challenges in understanding the curriculum or expressing themselves effectively.
  • Learning disabilities and special educational needs: Students with learning disabilities or special educational needs may require additional support to reach their full potential.
  • Mental and physical health issues: Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or trauma can interfere with a student’s ability to focus and engage in learning. Physical health issues can also impact attendance and participation in school.
  • Lack of support at home: Students who do not receive adequate support and encouragement from family members or guardians may struggle academically. This could be due to various reasons such as parental involvement, family dynamics, or lack of understanding about the importance of education.
  • School environment: Factors such as school culture, safety, teacher quality, and availability of resources can all influence student attainment. A positive and supportive school environment can facilitate learning, while a negative or unsafe environment can impede progress.
  • Lack of individualised instruction: Students have different learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses. A one-size-fits-all approach to teaching may not effectively meet the needs of all students, leading to disparities in attainment.

The benefits of school trips

School trips offer a range of benefits that extend beyond the classroom and traditional learning environment. They can make a big difference in a child’s education, while also having a positive impact on the school as a whole. Here’s how:

Inspiring learners

School trips provide students with hands-on, real-world experiences that complement classroom learning. Visiting museums, historical sites, science centres, or natural wonders allows students to engage with the subject matter tangibly, deepening their understanding and retention of information. Many places—especially museums, theatre shows, and similar—offer free educational materials to visiting students.

Elevating achievement

Unique and engaging experiences are a great way to spark interest in particular subjects. Once that interest is peaked, students are more likely to further explore areas they haven’t previously.

School trips often involve activities in which students can apply their academic knowledge in real-life scenarios. Whether conducting science experiments in a museum, or practising language skills in another country, students can see how practical and relevant their learning is.

This in turn can have a huge positive impact on students’ grades. The inspiration and passion they gain from outside learning will inherently transfer to the assignments they carry out in the classroom.

Ofsted evaluations

When it comes to your Ofsted inspection, which generally takes place every 4 years, any improvements in student attainment will be taken into account. Taking your students on enriching and enlightening school trips—leading to better engagement and performance at school—will ultimately result in improved Ofsted scores.

Learning outcomes mind map

Looking for more inspiration? Download our learning outcomes mind map.

Supporting the learning gained from a school trip

To fortify the benefits of a school trip further, teachers may want to curate lesson plans and learning materials to help students reflect on their experiences and to draw on  the themes or curricular elements of the trip.

To support this, we have produced a number of subject-specific resources to aid with lesson planning before and after a school trip:

Many of the stops on your itinerary will include free resources. For example, West End shows frequently offer free downloadable resources based on topics raised in the show. Similarly, many museums provide free worksheets, classroom resources, professional tips, and witness testimonies that they can use before and after their visit. Always look out for the education section on websites.

Ready to arrange an inspiring school trip?

Now you know the benefits of school trips on student attainment and Ofsted scores, why not get planning your next one? At NGT, we can support you throughout the planning process, up until you’re packing your bags and heading off! No matter where you’re going, we’ve got the trip for you. Get a quote today.

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