Explorations II: A New Guide to Field Study Work in Primary School*
(* Working Title)
SYNOPSIS, INTRODUCTION AND SPECIMEN CHAPTER
personal statement of the rationale for this kind of work, an
indication of the range of experiences we shall be covering and the
types of trips and locations to be considered. A brief outline of the
key pointers to success.
Note: The text will repeatedly
emphasise that although much of the coverage is about large scale
residential trips away from home involving stays of several days almost
all the key points are equally valid when preparing for a day out
or a walk round the corner.
1. IDEAS TO START WITH
Big benefits. Opening account of the many personal, social and academic
gains to had from programmes of out of school activities.
Curriculum. Where it all fits in including both a subject by subject
analysis and an explanation of how we can support newer curricular
approaches based on analysis of skills or creativity. How it all
supports aspects of inclusion, community cohesion and the extended
Training. Outline of necessary preliminary
training and what is likely to be available. The role of the
educational visits co-ordinator (EVC), local authority guidance.
and transport, booking and using coaches, railways, practical
information on how to walk and rights of way, navigation and maps. The
Risk analysis and assessment. Health and safety
considerations and emergency procedures and first aid. Coping
with the weather and the public – toileting.
out there? Indications of places to go and people to meet. Research,
it’s all on the Internet, but can you believe it?
Foreign Trips, additional considerations
What can you contribute?
2. PLANNING – THE EARLY STAGES
up with the ‘big idea’ and outline objectives. Making up your mind and
getting approval, questions to ask yourself, questions the management
may require you to answer.
Timing and seasonal factors, advantages and penalties in a season by season analysis. Planning a realistic timetable
Size and composition of group: ages, gender issues. Inclusion and special needs
Staffing. Who will it be? Training, background, checks and insurance. What will they cost?
Preliminary Visit. Checking the accommodation: things to look out for,
queries to raise, ditto places to visit. Walking the walk – the
importance of covering the ground well and how to do it. Making local
contacts within the community: individuals, groups and organisations.
and salesmanship. Starting with a balance sheet. What can be afforded?
School charging policies, sources of financial support. Selling it to
pupils and parents, setting up a savings scheme and dealing with
Working with families. Explaining the
whys and wherefores –meeting initial concerns re: accommodation,
groups, domestic details, health concerns. Opening individual dialogues.
Drawing up an outline programme. Booking accommodation and attractions. Obtaining permissions and permits
3. PLANNING - THE LATER STAGES
visits and developing a detailed programme. Spelling out curricular
objectives and intentions for each location/activity.
Writing staff and helper notes / handbook for the occasion, producing any additional resources that may be needed.
out the fine detail for the travel: timings, routes and breaks, and
accommodation: room allocation, location of staff, meal time routines,
work time routines, bed time routines. House rules.
Preliminary work in the classroom. Research and skills development.
Planning and packing for ‘down time’ , leisure and recreation.
briefings for full party, information about accommodation and ‘house
rules’, outline of work locations and possible tasks, photos of
accommodation, sample menus and so on.
The ‘dress rehearsal’,
checking gear: clothing, footwear, bags and waterproofs, introducing
groups to leaders, practicing walking and working together out of doors.
Packing. What to take by way of equipment and resources, advice for families
The count down. Managing the final days, working with parents, medical forms and supplies, arrangements to depart.
4. MANAGEMENT ON THE TRIP – ARRIVAL
Ensuring a smooth departure
The journey, how to have a trouble free one – practical tips
Accommodation. Settling in, arrival and first couple of hours, things to say and do.
Establishing a routine.
The first night – not a nightmare.
5. MANAGEMENT ON THE TRIP – THE WEEK UNFOLDS
with groups, making it happen ‘on the ground’. Leadership and
instruction giving. Monitoring moment by moment. Playing ‘as a team’.
More domestic issues. Mealtimes, break times, clothing and hygiene, the on-going routine. Managing home sickness
Looking after staff. Energy, fatigue and pacing yourselves
The end of it all. Drawing it to a conclusion, packing and the journey home. Rendezvousing with parents.
6. ACTIVITIES ON THE TRIP – Practical guidance
Measuring and surveying – “How far did you say it was?”
Counting and Questioning – “Excuse me sir can I ask you... ?”
Observing and Collecting – “What have you got there George?”
Image making – “Could you smile for the camera?”
Language – “What’s that in Welsh?”
Initiating drama and music – “Why don’t we do the show right here?”
Sharing it all – “Did you say you’ve set the station on Fire?”
The importance of doing nothing – “ ahhhh…. “
7. THE FOLLOW UP
Making sense of it all, additional learning opportunities.
Reworking notes and sketches
Image and model making
Developing music and drama for performance
Presentation, mounting an exhibition
Publication: software and hard copy
Giving something back
8. CASE STUDIES
In search of Banbury’s vanished castle – an afternoon round town
Meet the Romans – a day trip to Cirencester
The Dreaming Spire – a week in Norwich
Margate – A study of Invasion
The Harlech Art Week
not sure where this thought comes from, perhaps it’s my own, whatever
the case I have always worked in the belief that, “there is nothing we
do in the classroom that cannot be done better outside it!” Do I mean
this literally? Perhaps I do. Here is an instance.
On a recent
year 6 residential week in Weymouth we took on an examination of three
topics in science: tides, flotation and erosion. In each case we set up
some practical investigations and observations to underscore the
discussions and indeed direct teaching that was going on. Measurement
of the movement of the outgoing tide linked to diagrams of the moon and
the earth drawn in the sand; clambering over the local lifeboat lead to
the life saving questions associated with flotation tanks, life jackets
and displacement and sitting on Chesil beach listening to the sound of
a million million pebbles being rolled over by the incoming breakers
told us about the power of erosion at a level that was almost visceral!
immediacy and emotional thrill of first hand experiences can be the
primary driving force in embracing all the options working outside the
classroom has to offer but this response has to be backed up by certain
• Out of class activities
are curriculum lead. All our trips are designed to deliver on some
particular aspect of the curriculum. We identify a learning objective
and then seek out a location and plan an appropriate set of activities.
We devise our programme of work, we hardly ever use worksheets supplied
by this museum or that ancient site because they rarely match our
intentions and hardly ever deliver on the kind of imaginative quality
of differentiated work we demand for our pupils.
The trips are means to an end beyond the immediate learning
objectives. Whenever possible we plan for activities which are
innovative, exciting and lead to some real outcome that has an impact
on the world beyond our own narrow learning intentions. These outcomes
could involve undertaking real research into some aspect of the
historical or natural environment, laying on an art exhibition or
poetry reading for the populace or publishing an anthology to pass on
to parents and representatives of communities we have worked in.
Our work is inclusive, what we do is for everyone and we work
hard to get everybody on board and to ensure that all our pupils get an
experience which is valuable to them. For many years we ran our
residential weeks as joint undertakings with the equivalent class from
our local special school. The children here often multiple physical
disabilities as well as learning difficulties. We have always been the
gainer in such partnerships.
• The trips have
always been used as an engine to drive the curriculum forward both in
terms of preparation and follow up for the whole class. A well planned
trip adds colour to the entire term.
What we do not do is
travel solely for fun or undertake outward bound type activities. Many
schools will choose an excursion to a theme park as a reward or
organise a character building programme of activities such as caving,
canoeing and abseiling and this is fine but our concern has always been
to support the curriculum in a more subject focussed way. That is what
this book is about.
The principles laid out above work equally
well irrespective of the scale of the trip: the time taken or the
distance covered. To give some examples of the approaches we take here
are some brief accounts of visits near and far.
Local trips – within walking / short bus journey from the school
Southam Road Cemetery. This is just across the road from St. Mary’s
School in Banbury and offers a rich natural environment with mature
trees and shrubs, some late Victorian funerary monuments
and keeper’s lodge and of special interest gravestones of
casualties from both world wars which we have studied as part of our
history curriculum. We tracked down some surviving family members and
wrote to them and made some useful contacts with people who were able
to offer first hand testimony about life in Banbury during the Second
Greatworth Roman Settlement. Round the corner from my
previous school was a field where local archaeologists had recorded the
discovery of fragments of Roman pottery in the plough soil. We spent an
afternoon there, shortly after the field had been ploughed, measuring
out a grid of fifty 2 metre squares and then collecting and bagging all
the archaeological material: pottery, tile, stone, metal, bone, that we
could find. Back at school we subjected this material to statistical
analysis and them submitted a report to the county museum on our
Day Trips – full day excursions usually by coach
Water Trail. As part of a geographical investigation of the impact of
water and its use on the landscape we toured the village of Cropredy
and took in features such as the meandering river and its valley, man
made canals and mill streams and features such as wells, pumps and
water mills all of which was then converted into a huge embroidered
panel which we exhibited in the church.
work is carried out in its most intense form during the course of
residential visits where the class and staff are staying away from
school usually for a period of a week. I have always tried to build a
residential visit into each year’s programme because of the many and
extraordinary benefits they bring. Our residential trips also showcase
two important principles. Firstly that of inclusion; all of these have
been joint excursions with a class from our local special school.
Secondly they illustrate the way in which we not only have a curricular
theme but where possible attempt to put something back into the
community we have been working in. Here are a number of examples of
outings which have worked particularly well.
Harlech Art Week. We planned a series of art activities for a
variety of different locations using a range of specified media: water
colours for a harbour scene, gray scale pastels for the castle walls
and felt tip pens for the garish fairground rides. At the end of the
week we mounted all our work and displayed it at a variety of
venues round the town – we even managed to sell some of it!
Lyme Regis Science Week. This famous sea side town on the south
coast was the scene for a programme of practical science based
activities that underpinned the children’s programme of study for
national Curriculum science. Activities included fossil hunting and a
study of erosion, an analysis of the forces used in a working water
wheel and vegetation surveys on a number of rural locations. We sent
copies of our tried and tested worksheets to the local museum.
Ludlow Poetry Week. The children were asked to respond to
the different places they visited by expressing themselves in poetry
using a number of different styles and techniques from ballads
describing an attack on the town to haikus about the traffic clogging
its streets. To round things off – as part of the Ludlow Festival – we
stood outside the castle gate and read a selection of our poems to
• Margate History Week.
The theme for this trip was that of invasion. We explored it by
visiting a series of historic locations: Richborough Roman Fort, Dover
Castle and the Battle of Britain Museum at RAF Manton as well as using
the sands at Margate to experience the idea of invasion through a
series of games and a contest to build sand castles to keep the sea at
bay! We printed an anthology of our work and sent copies to all the
places we had visited
• Bradford Community
Week. A small primary school in the Northamptonshire countryside
was a world removed by the busy multi-cultural bustle of the big city.
We therefore decided to throw ourselves into the experience of being in
Bradford by linking up with middle school in the town and setting
ourselves the challenge of working together for a week to produce and
perform a stage show that summed up our joint reactions to the place by
the end of the week.
• Manorbier Film Week.
After studying and producing an abridged version of Shakespeare’s
‘Twelfth Night’ we took ourselves away to the quiet countryside of
Pembrokeshire to film our version on location. We used a number of
historic sites as backdrops and combined performance with writing
and sketching. The whole thing was eventually premiered with a
Hollywood style event complete with limousines, paparazzi and
To have done so much suggests that the whole
process is worthwhile and works well. It does work well for us, perhaps
in many ways better than it does for other schools, and this is for a
number of reasons.
i) Planning. We undertake very detailed
planning indeed. This begins with an intention to support some
particular area of the curriculum, having selected our focus we then
tend to search for a suitable location. We then carry out one or more
preliminary visits. In the case of a residential trip this may well
extend of several days. Our intention is that members of staff must go
over all the ground and check out all the proposed activities in
detail. It is our boast that the children will not walk over a single
foot of ground that we have not covered ourselves, even if it is just a
walk from the station to the castle in Oxford. Preliminary visits then
equip staff with the knowledge to begin the detailed planning for
particular work based tasks as well as for the logistics of getting
people around safely, using toilets and selecting suitable picnic spots.
Preparation. For a major trip involves working on both the social and
learning dimension of the visit as well as checking basic items such as
equipment, footwear and clothing. We think very hard about groups for
walking, groups for working and groups for playing together and
whenever possible give pupils a reasonable degree of choice, especially
when it comes to choosing a group to share a bedroom together. There is
almost always a dress rehearsal – an afternoon out close to the school
- before any major excursion so we can check that the children are
equipped for the rigours of walking and working outdoors. There is also
preparation to be done in terms of equipping children with any
specialist knowledge or skills which will enhance the learning
experience whilst away. This could include researching the background
to some specific historical event or period or practising a technique
such as measuring with a 30 metre tape measure.
Supervision. There is a saying describing this – to run a tight ship-
this is very much our watchword when out and about and we achieve it in
a number of ways.
• Clear and detailed
instructions. Staff are extensively briefed about the nature of the
tasks planned and the organisation and management needed to bring them
about. This is backed up with clear written instructions in the form of
a worksheet or handbook. (See Appendix)
ratio of staff to pupils. We would normally not consider taking on the
kind of out of class programme of challenging curriculum based
activities without one adult supervising six pupils. This is not to say
that all of these adults have to be teachers. Typically for a week long
residential trip we would take two teachers, two teaching assistants
and two other volunteers – often students under going initial teacher
• Enforced procedures for working away
from school. We have established routines for things such as
boarding coaches, walking along footpaths and settling down to
work. Similar procedures linked to mealtimes and bedtimes in
residential accommodation are equally important to the well being of
the party. Staff repeatedly emphasise the importance of these routines.
High expectations regarding the quality of work done. We expect
work done out and about to be as good if not better than that
undertaken in class. Obviously if pupils are battling with high winds
and torrential rain we do not expect top quality hand writing but there
is a continual push to make the most of every experience and to record
it in as much detail as possible so that the outcomes, back at the
hotel or once we have returned to school, are of the very highest
iv) Outcomes, celebrations, productions. We tend to use
the experiences from any major excursion as a powerhouse to drive along
what can be up to several weeks of follow up work to the original trip.
This can take many forms: writing up a best copy of a poetry anthology,
mounting an exhibition of art work or working towards a production of
some kind. Once again the idea of involving the wider school community
and interested parties beyond school that is central to this approach.
of this is extraordinarily hard work and demands huge efforts and
commitment from the staff involved but it is done and done willingly
because for anyone who participates in this kind of activity the
benefits are there in front of them every moment they are working with
pupils beyond the classroom. Now lets look in detail at how to make
CHAPTER 4. MANAGEMENT ON THE TRIP - ARRIVAL
the big day has finally arrived and we are ready for the off. We
generally try to leave as early as is reasonable to maximise the time
at the other end for settling in, to give some slack in the timing of
the journey in case of hold ups and to clear school before everyone
else starts to arrive. Typically we ask staff to arrive at 7.00 a.m.,
children at 7.30 a.m. with the intention of being on the road by 8.00
a.m. The previous day we will have assembled all the necessary
equipment into large plastic boxes ready to be loaded into the coach’s
boot. Hopefully you will have received everyone’s medical forms and
pocket money but there will always be a few late contributions. I
normally set up a reception desk in the hall where pupils, parents and
suitcases assemble waiting for the call to get on board. One crucial
task for a responsible member of staff to undertake is to collect in
any medication which may need to be taken along. Many years ago now we
took a nine year old boy with diabetes on an indoor camping trip to a
church hall in Betws–Y-Coed. For the week before departure we had
called each morning at his home to practice administering his injection
of insulin. To keep the drug in best condition we also had to take a
fridge with us which necessitated taking out the front two seats in the
coach so we could get it on board. I do not think this is an
undertaking we would risk today but obviously by agreement with parents
a range of medicines are taken for asthma, eczema, travel sickness and
so on. All of these are collected in with a check to ensure that they
are labelled and we have a record of what to give, when to give it and
permission to do so. These are kept together with one copy of the
medical details in a lockable case.
As excitement mounts we are
working hard to maintain calm. Both at the outset and throughout the
course of a long journey maintaining a calm atmosphere goes a long way
towards enjoying a trouble free trip. There is a final role call then
of couple of staff members lead the way taking the children to get on
board, someone organises the parents to help with the luggage,
including our own boxes of resources and a senior member of staff
brings up the rear making sure that we have not forgot anything or
On board the coach we reserve the front and the rear
seats for the staff. The reasoning behind this is to give options to
move children who do begin to feel unwell up to the front where they
can sit with a sympathetic adult and be close to what is universally
known as the ‘yukk bucket’. This is a shorthand term for the kit we
take along which includes: two or three plastic buckets lined with
plastic bags and medicated sawdust, a supply of paper towels,
disinfectant wipes, latex gloves, several bottles of water for drinking
and washing and a newspaper. We have established the fiction, and it
surely must be a fiction, that a sovereign remedy against travel
sickness is to sit on a sheet of newspaper. It amazing how often this
does the trick! At the rear of the coach we position a member of staff
who can keep an eye on what everyone is up to especially in terms of
standing up or lounging in the aisles. Other adults are scattered
strategically throughout the coach.
A check on seat belts, a final
role call then we are away as parents and pupils wave excitedly to each
other we continue to remain calm. We have strict guidelines as to what
we do and do not permit once en route. Remember we are aiming for a
quiet settled atmosphere which does not, unfortunately, permit us to
indulge in the ancient tradition of singing on the coach, it gives some
people a headache and potentially can be a distraction to the driver.
Similarly we have the radio and television if mounted, switched off.
Children are encouraged to read, write or draw in a notebook, chat with
their partner or simply watch the world go by. We take a very dim view
of children waving at other road users as again it is a potential
source of distraction. Our final precaution against outbreaks of
sickness is to insist that children do not consume huge quantities of
sweets, especially chocolate, or fizzy drinks. Mints or fruit sweets to
suck on are allowed but we try and avoid the idea that the journey is
going to be a meal on wheels.
Whenever possible we build
frequent breaks into our journey: toilet stops, picnic breaks and
possibly, time permitting, a visit to a site which may act as some kind
of introduction to the experiences ahead. For example on one occasion
whilst heading to the south coast for a ‘stone study’ we stopped first
at Stonehenge where we managed a toilet stop, a lunch break and some
sketching and poem writing within the space of an hour and all of it
for free – remember Stonehenge is a English Heritage property free
admission to pre-booked school groups. We have a simple procedure,
explained in advance, for getting off coaches, which simply involves
letting the people in front of you get up and get off first. This
avoids untidy and possibly unsafe standing up and milling around in the
aisle and in the case of emergency – we did once have coach fill with
smoke on us! – evacuation can proceed smoothly.
longer the journey the more stops you need and the harder the final
stages are likely to be. Based in the heart of England our longest
journeys have been to Northumbria – once, and Pembrokeshire – twice,
and each time we have made three stops in the course of six hours of
travelling. So we are nearly there and once more excitement mounts but
as the moment of arrival draws near we prepare for the next essential
stage in the proceedings. The transfer from the coach to the
accommodation again needs careful planning.
Our usual routine
upon arrival is to keep everyone seated for a few additional moments
while an adult makes contact with the owner or manager of the hostel or
hotel to make sure everything is in order for us to proceed. Where
possible we identify a central area where we can all assemble and as
the coach driver unloads the bags we simply send the children a couple
at a time to collect a bag, any bag, and transfer it indoors. Once the
children and their accompanying luggage are safely stowed they can be
managed by a couple of staff who are probably organising initial visits
to the toilets for those who are desperate whilst the other staff sort
out the removal and safe storage of whatever equipment and resources
have been brought along.
Once everyone has gathered together in
a central safe space we look to the manager for some initial words of
welcome, immediate guidance on matters of health and safety: what the
fire alarm sounds like, what to do if it sounds, and any guidance they
need to locating and moving in to their rooms safely, and then we send
people off in small groups with an accompanying adult to ‘move in’. The
adult’s main duty is to assist with safe handling of bags, some of
which can be extraordinarily heavy, to make sure they navigate their
way successfully to correct room and to make sure that there are no
disagreements about who has which bed or bunk and to point out where
clothes can be unpacked to. We generally assign an adult to supervise
each of the children’s rooms for the duration of the visit. At this
point with stern reminders about not playing around in rooms we
generally leave them for twenty minutes or so to unpack and get a feel
for the accommodation. By this time all the adults are circulating
round ensuring that the whole process is going well and that people are
moving towards the next rendezvous point. At an early stage we label
the door to each room with names of the occupants for both children and
adults. In an emergency this helps pupils find teachers and vice versa.
By this time you and your staff will have satisfied yourselves that
there are no serious issues with the accommodation and that everything
is as it was at the time of your last visit. All serious concerns such
jammed fire escapes or loose electrical fittings must be voiced now so
that they can be put right before the children settle in for the night.
Lesser issues involving perhaps minor damage to furnishings should also
be brought up with the management so your party does not get the blame.
time to settle in we will generally reconvene in the common room,
lounge or dining room, depending on what is on offer, for the next
activity. Typically, and depending on the time, this can be drawn from
taking a walk, enjoying our first meal and having an additional
briefing about the ‘house rules’. All three have to be done before bed
time but the precise order will depend on timing and circumstances.
briefed. Everyone should have plenty of information about the venue
before arrival but now it is time to underline a number of crucial
points and hopefully set up a good working relationship between the
party and staff and management of the accommodation. We have usually
found that the people we deal with in running hostels and hotels for
children are good communicators with a real interest in what the
children are going to be doing – if they are not we are unlikely to
have made a booking in the first place. Typical of topics covered will
be health and safety and discipline issues: no running in corridors,
rooms are not for playing in, what to do in the case of accident and
emergencies; mealtime routines, house keeping in terms of where to park
wet clothes and muddy boots and where to place litter and so on. One of
the most important procedures to explain is what happens if an
emergency evacuation has to be carried out. We normally insist on a
fire drill sometime during the first evening so everyone is clear what
to listen out for and what to do. Sometimes the opportunity is taken to
introduce other members of staff at the establishment and explain their
Why walk? We try always to take ourselves out at an early
stage for three main reasons. Firstly we find it helps settle the
children in the sense of giving them a feel for where they are. Knowing
the location of the hostel, getting a feel for the countryside
around and walking over the territory is all part of establishing
a sense of being at home. Children settle into a routine remarkably
quickly and getting a kind of geographical fix on their location
is part of the process. Secondly you may well choose to use an initial
walk to establish the agenda for the week ahead by introducing the
children to some of the locations they will be working in if they are
close to hand and discussing perhaps some of the themes which are to
dominate their learning over the nest few days. Thirdly it tires them
out. Coach travel is fatiguing but not in a way which wearies the body.
They may well have been sitting for several hours during the journey so
it is important to undertake some serious exercise before even
attempting to settle down for the night. In addition to the walk we
often set up an evening outdoor games session to burn off some
Ready for food? Good food, from everybody’s
point of view makes a big difference to the success of the trip.
Hopefully you will already have had a chance to sample the food and
will have obtained and circulated sample menus for the week. Here’s
hoping that the food as delivered on the day to thirty plus hungry
individuals comes up to scratch, again, if not mention your concerns,
it is always far better to address these issues at the outset than put
up with an unsatisfactory situation for a week. In our experience many
issues are simply the result of a misunderstanding or poor
communication and most managers are only too keen to put things right.
Setting a routine for mealtimes is important, especially as communal
eating with place settings and plated food may be an unfamiliar
experience for some children. Sometimes we begin with a seating plan
created before hand, with other groups we allow them to choose where to
sit, normally we spread the adults around the dining room to generally
oversee proceedings. Whatever individual beliefs are held we tend to
begin with a moment of silence and a simple grace. It is good to say
thank you and it is another calming moment. Service will either be
canteen style in which case you will organise the order in which tables
go up, or family service for which you will need to depute a team of
servers. We work hard on establishing an understanding of what we refer
to as ‘restaurant voices’ in other words conversation is loud enough to
heard across the table but not across the room. By now any issues
regarding ‘fussy eaters’ will have emerged. We find that that this is a
rarely an issue that persists much beyond the first day. The
combination of an active daily programme and the peer pressure exerted
by everyone tucking in generally remedies the problem. In the very rare
cases where this does not work we have a supply a fruit and snacks that
we can offer to anyone who is genuinely struggling with his or her
food. The normal arrangement is that the children play some part in
helping with clearing away dirty dishes and clearing and perhaps wiping
down the tables.
It is important to stress that we make it our
business to carefully manage every moment of the children’s’ time.
There are no unstructured periods when pupils are at a loose end so the
end of meal time will be followed by some sort of instruction which
leads everyone in to the programme of evening activities of which more
later. Pretty soon most people will be ready for bed, whether they know
it or not. The world of residential education is awash with horror
stories of impossible nights full of noisy children rampaging around
until the early hours of the morning. It does happen but it should not,
indeed it does not providing the process is like everything else
carefully managed. Of course it gets easier as the week unfolds but we
ensure the first of a series of peaceful nights with a routine that
looks something like this.
First of all we will have established
expectations before leaving in terms of publicising what time bed time
is and what procedures lead on to lights out. It is no surprise
therefore when we call everyone together to start the process at 8.45
p.m. We settle them down with a story whilst other members of staff
organise a hot bed time drink – usually hot chocolate and then send
them off a room at a time with accompanying adult to get washed and
ready for bed. We allow 10 to 15 minutes for reading or chatting in bed
and then it is time for lights out. At this point the staff sit
themselves down just outside the room with a torch and good book and
simply sit and wait until everyone is asleep. From time to time,
especially on the first night, it may be necessary to whisper urgent
reminders to lay still and keep quiet but eventually everyone drifts
off. This may take some time, but even if the wait is a long one, say
half an hour, it is time well spent to guarantee a good night’s sleep
for everyone. Occasionally we may choose to use an additional technique
which is a sure fire success. Once the room is in darkness the adult
sits and reads aloud a story in a low monotonous voice. It is
practically impossible in these circumstances to stay awake for longer
than 10 minutes.
It has been along day for the adults but it
is not over yet. Each everything once everything is peaceful there
needs to be a staff meeting. This is partly to unwind and socialise but
it is also an essential time to reflect on the days events and pass on
and discuss things that have worked well and of course things that have
not worked so well that may need attention the following day. We
normally devote some time to a quick briefing with regards to the next
day’s programme. Staff will already be familiar with this from the
meetings held a few days before departure but things always have to be
tweaked depending on circumstances and now is the time to do it after
which everyone heads for bed, sets the alarm clock and wonders about