A common question I hear from many teachers is about where to go on school trips for Sociology students as sadly much of the feedback in the past has been that days out away from school were either not that valuable educationally or were a headache in terms of planning and organisation. Having posed the question online to several Sociology teachers however, it does seem that there are many excursions that are both popular and worthwhile from the quick day trip to the more adventurous week away.
UCL institute for learning offers a half day conference at the end of November for A-level students to listen to 6 guest speakers on contemporary issues in Sociology and the event is free. Sadly this year it is already sold out but get in early for the next academic year. You can also check for other conferences through www.eventbrite.co.uk
Tutor2U have gained an excellent reputation in recent years for providing high quality conferences and high quality booklets and materials for the students to take away. The AQA grade booster workshops take place in March and April sitting neatly in the lead up to the summer exams so that students can push themselves as much as possible, especially those that are aiming for the top grades. Spaces are £25 per student and take place in the usual spots of London, Birmingham and Manchester but also in Leeds, Bristol and Portsmouth. Check www.tutor2u.net for more information.
For those students that are covering the media topic then a trip to one of the BBC studios is always entertaining. The popular London studios have now been replaced by the impressive Mediacity UK centre in Salford and the hour and a half tour is only around £10 per student. A favourite part of the tour, other than celeb-spotting, is that students get to have a go at making their own news and weather bulletin in the interactive studio.
For those of you based in the south or near the capital I am also aware that Sky offer a similar tour in their studios based in Brentford. There is also an opportunity for some Q&A sessions with a lead producer.
For the crime topic, a visit to a law court has long been a common and popular destination. This takes a little bit of planning and organisation depending on your nearest court but some teachers have even taken students to the Old Bailey. There is, of course, an element of luck in the case you will be watching but I guess that part of the fun comes in the unpredictability. For those of you based down south then Lewes Court (near to Brighton) is used to regular student group visits.
Another option for the crime topic is the True Life Conference group, offering a ‘behind the bars’ look at the criminal justice system throughout November in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Durham, Sheffield and Fleet. The feedback for those that have carried out this trip is always positive and many return every year and combine the trip with their Psychology students. More information can be found at http://www.truelifeconferences.co.uk.
A trip to the cinema is always a fairly easy gig and on the 7th December this year the National theatre live production of Young Marx will be broadcast in London but screened at several cinemas around the country. Just prepare your students to get comfortable as the show weighs in at around three hours long. Visit http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk for more details.
2 day trips
The NST group has long been known for their excellent trips, one of which is an overnight stay in London. The Karl Marx and Suffragette walking tours as well as the V&A museum of childhood are all areas that would be useful to Sociology students at any level. NST also fill the day with evening activities such as the London eye, bowling or a theatre trip and they are also very accommodating to tailor the tour to suit your needs and preferences. Visit www.nstgroup.co.uk for more details.
If getting time out of school during the working week is an issue then there is of course the option of a weekend trip and the Women of the World (WOW) festival at the Southbank centre in London is an outing that has gained really positive feedback from students and teachers alike. The event takes place in March and more details can be found at www.southbankcentre.co.uk or via the Twitter hashtag #WOWLDN
Longer trips for the brave!
WST travel offer a range of trips abroad including Krakow, Berlin, Vienna and New York. These trips are often designed to be combined with Psychology or History students, but they will make sure the tour itineraries are tailored to your specific study themes and sociology topics. Feedback for the tour group is positive and is also considered to be a reasonable price per student. For more information visit www.wsttravel.com
As well as their London tours, the NST group offer the most comprehensive selection of Sociology trips abroad in the form of Vienna, Krakow, Berlin, New York and Beijing and a simple internet search of their reviews tells you everything you need to know. Anecdotally I know that many teachers who have been on one of the trips often return to NST to try out another trip such is the quality of their provision. The New York trip has been described as ‘Providing excellent opportunities to explore key study themes such as immigration, terrorism, multiculturalism and much more’ from the expert guide lecturer. Perhaps the most adventurous trip is the 6 day trip to Beijing and includes a tour/lecture at Beijing’s Gucoao Psychological Hospital, Tiananmen square, Chairman Mao’s memorial hall, Forbidden city, the great Wall of China and a rickshaw ride. For more information check www.nstgroup.co.uk
Although some of these may be a little ambitious as well as costly for some of our students I hope that there are at least one or two that take your fancy or match your needs. Safe travels!
Matthew has been teaching Sociology for 14 years and has taught in the UK, Kenya and Spain, he currently teaches at Bellerbys College in Brighton. Matthew runs the website and the Socio-Zone iphone app.