Every dedicated teacher is constantly on the lookout for ways to fuel the imagination of young learners. Organising a school trip to bring the dusty pages of history to life is (or should be) at the top of the list. No subject benefits more from the opportunity to visit the sites where monumental events of the past took place, and no subject offers such a wealth of choice when it comes to planning a school trip.
Exploring the Legacy of Normandy
The Normandy region of France is a logical choice for a school trip, with multiple sites relating to the study of medieval times through to the bloody battles of WWII. From primary to GCSE level, students can benefit from numerous programmes in place at the museums and monuments, many of which can be geared specifically towards curriculum requirements.
For pupils undertaking studies of the Norman Conquest, a trip to Normandy takes them to the place where it all began. Visiting the Bayeux Tapestry introduces them to early medieval art; this magnificently preserved artefact is one of the most valuable historical sources that exists for teaching the period to students. As a complete and compelling visual narrative of the events surrounding the Norman Conquest, it serves as a tangible learning aid to inspire a deeper appreciation of the era, for both primary and secondary groups.
Falaise Castle is another site of great significance for those focusing on the Middle Ages. The birthplace of William the Conqueror is a superb example of medieval architecture, and visiting the site enables pupils to put their knowledge of this important sovereign, the first Norman King of England, into historical context.
For young people studying the events of WWII, Normandy is the epicentre of active learning, with numerous sites and monuments relating to the battles waged on French soil. No amount of textbook reading can come close to the deeply emotive experience of visiting the beaches and battlefields on which these events took place and so many young men lost their lives.
The WWII sites of this region serve as a sobering legacy of the war and provide a superb educational resource, not just for the subject of history, but also those relating to politics and social studies. Touring the cemeteries and battlefields brings home the stark realities of war and cannot help but leave an indelible imprint on young hearts and minds, while museums with state-of-the-art technology serve to bring the drama of the Normandy invasion to vivid life.
But more than simply providing an opportunity to decipher the facts and satisfy curriculum requirements, touring the WWII sites of Normandy is the opportunity for an educator to furnish young people with an insight into the gravity of war, its consequences and its impact.
An Accessible Destination
This lovely part of France is able to incite a passion for history and learning in groups of any ages across a range of curricular studies, which makes it the perfect destination for a school trip. It's also a highly practical one in terms of budget and logistics, with the Channel crossing from Folkestone ensuring a quick journey from the UK.
John Gardiner is the Managing Director of The School Travel Company, a tour operator specialising in school trip itineraries for school and youth groups to the UK, Europe and beyond. As a father and avid traveller, John is very passionate about providing students with valuable and engaging learning experiences outside of the classroom. By sharing his expert advice with teachers, he allows them to inspire their students and bring their studies to life.