Planning a school excursion for primary students
School excursions are a great way for primary students to develop their social skills, further their learning and have fun with their friends outside of the familiar school grounds.
For teachers, primary school excursions can be an excellent opportunity to break up the routine and re-energise a classroom of kids. You might even find that you enjoy yourself too – the excitement and delight of a group of primary students on a big day out can be contagious.
On the other hand, organising a school excursion for primary-aged students can be a difficult – and often stressful – task. The key to ensuring that you and your pupils have an enjoyable and valuable day is careful and comprehensive planning.
Ultimately, a number of your big decisions will be informed by the policies put in place by your school and by the relevant governing body in your state, as well as the requirements of your curriculum and the limits of your budget. See below for some handy links to help you ensure you stay in line with State Government procedures.
We’ve put together a few helpful hints to help you cope with the rest of the planning process:
Start planning early
It goes without saying, but if you start planning early you’ll have a much wider range of dates to choose from. Some schools book their excursions as far ahead as a year in advance – get in early to ensure you get the time you want. Once your excursion is booked in on the school calendar, you can lock in the appropriate resources and funding well ahead of time.
Don’t plan too much
Try to avoid the temptation of cramming too much into your outing. The best primary school excursions are a balance between keeping students busy (so they don’t get bored or get into mischief) and making sure you don’t exhaust them. There’s a limit to how much primary students can take in during an excursion, and younger children are likely to tire quickly – half-day excursions that focus on one main activity usually work best.
Letters to parents
When it comes to getting parental consent, you will need to check your school’s policy regarding the exact process.
It’s important that you receive as much information from parents as possible, particularly for primary students who may not know that answers themselves. In addition to the specific information required by the school, your letter or permission slip should request the following information:
- student’s name and address, full contact and emergency details and the name and number of the family doctor
- allergies and relevant medical history, including the location, dosage and administration of medication
You should also outline these details for the parents:
- necessary or suggested equipment, clothing and footwear
- guidelines on the supply and amount of money
- expected behaviour of students
- notification that if the rules of the visit are broken by a student, the parent may have to collect that pupil from the excursion at their own expense
You’ll need to ensure that there will be enough teachers on hand to maintain control of your excursion. Parents or caregivers of primary students will often volunteer their assistance, but remember that the ultimate responsibility for supervision remains with the teachers. Brief all volunteers on safety and behaviour measures before the excursion and ensure they complete all appropriate paperwork (including paperwork around Working with Children).
Plan and discuss strategies for dealing with minor and major emergencies, including response if a student is lost, injured or sick; first aid provisions; details of emergency services and the fastest way of contacting them; and evacuation plans.
All states and territories in Australia have guidelines and procedures covering school excursions.
- South Australia – Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS)
- New South Wales – Department of Education and Training
- Victoria – Safety Guidelines for Education Outdoors
- Queensland – Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS)
- Tasmania – The Department of Education
- Australian Capital Territory – The Department of Education and Training
- Western Australia – West Australian Department of Education
- Northern Territory – Department of Education and Training