Is it time to undertake a strategic review of your school’s touring program?

Over the past month we’ve been covering off some of the issues related to ad hoc touring programs that have made it onto school executive agendas in recent times, in particular the ‘hot buttons’ related to risk management and program transparency. We’ve also discussed how ad hoc touring also creates a missed opportunity for most of the student cohort, because it usually only offers tours to students of very limited subject groups.

We believe you can manage most, if not all of these issues by conducting a thorough review of your existing or previous touring programs. A review offers the potential to maximise valuable educational tour opportunities. The right tours include real world, experiential learning activities to engage students, giving them a wonderful way to absorb knowledge for any and all subjects.

As we know, travel is an extraordinarily enriching experience, specifically if it is designed to engender true learning outcomes that support your classroom teaching.     

In our experience, schools who have previously used traditional, off-the-shelf touring solutions may not have the opportunity to take advantage of customised, educationally powerful touring programs that are aligned to the school’s strategy, vision, brand and curriculum.

The right strategic partner will work with you to dig deep into each of these considerations, as well as looking at your current or previous touring programs, in addition to really listening to what you want to achieve through educational tours. They will then work with you to design a customised tour plan that is strategic, educational and helps to extend student agency and leadership

We call this process strategic tour review and planning.

What do we mean by ”customised”? We believe there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to school touring. The program that is right for your school will be aligned to your strategy, mapped to your curriculum and will cover domestic and international opportunities across all subjects and combination of subjects, including general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities, should you wish

Importantly, it will also ensure sound environmental and ethical choices for the planet, as well as creating meaningful learning outcomes for students. Of course safety and risk management are top of the list in both the review and the tour planning. We’ll be talking more about these critical topics in the next few weeks.

Finally, the right partner will also be aware of your school’s socio-economic situation for budgeting purposes. And even if budget is less of a concern, we know parents will definitely appreciate not having to pay excessive amounts of money for tours without a strong focus on meaningful, engaging education for their children.

Consider the checklist below. How confident are you that you can answer ‘yes!’ to all or most of these items? If you’re unsure about any of them, it might be time to undertake a strategic review and forward planning process, with the help of a trusted and experienced partner:

  • Is your school touring program educationally robust, meaningful, inspirational, linked to the curriculum you teach and custom designed to engender true learning outcomes and support classroom teaching?
  • Does it include subject related, real-world, experiential learning activities that engage your students? Does it expose students to subject experts and potential future careers?
  • Does it offer travel/unique learning opportunities for your whole secondary school, simultaneously relieving the burden from your teachers?
  • Are identified/unidentified risks being properly mitigated through careful education and planning, including keeping all travellers as safe from COVID as possible?
  • Is your tour program planned out over a 2 or 3 year cycle so that the school, teachers and parents all know what opportunities will be offered at each year level, well in advance?
  • With ethically grey areas surrounding Service Learning tours, have you considered alternatives?
  • Does your school have tours that have been running for many years, which are not regularly reviewed for their educational merit, or risk, in line with current best practice?

Most importantly, we believe that the right touring program can be a key asset in the education of your students. Our experience shows that experiential learning activities engender true learning outcomes – see this recent article for more on that.

Meanwhile, teachers will benefit from more engaged students after returning from tours. School leaders and parents will have peace of mind knowing that tours are educationally robust, more accessible to a wider range of students and that  risk is managed appropriately. 

Another benefit you may not have considered is that a more strategic touring program can also be a standout feature of your marketing to prospective students and their families, and a real differentiator in building your school’s unique brand proposition.

Imagine the power of being able to share the touring calendar with parents years in advance – and even highlighting this on your website as a key part of your marketing strategy. It could well be the difference between a parent reaching out to make an enquiry about enrolment and moving on to the next school’s website!

And finally, perhaps the most important, non-tangible benefit of this process is the peace of mind from knowing you are armed with the information you need to improve transparency, educational merit, learning outcomes and safety – not to mention the work you are doing to enhance the brand and ‘marketability’ of your school!

With the end of the 2021 school year on the horizon, now is the time to conduct a strategic review of your existing school touring program and make forward plans for 2022 and beyond. To find out more about our Strategic Review Tour Review and Planning Consultation Service,  please contact us at Latitude Group Travel on 03 9646 4200 or go to our website and request a brochure here.

If you missed the previous articles in this series, you can catch up on them here:

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How you can increase executive oversight of your post-COVID school touring program
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Why now is the time for schools to reimagine Service Learning and voluntourism experiences

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