A recent research program undertaken at Yale University has shown that when pupils and students are given the opportunity to learn in a new environment both the speed of learning and the level of retention accelerate rapidly.
This occurs even if the location that the pupils or students are learning in is not especially related to the subject that they are studying – it is simply the fact that they have gone somewhere new.
An informal study in England followed this up with a small number of dyslexic children who were given a spelling activity which involved working through flash cards at home with their parents.
By way of experiment, the parents were asked to take the child to an unfamiliar environment each day and spend 10 – 15 minutes working through the exercises on the cards.
All the parents in the study reported that they found an improvement in the child’s learning and retention.
This, of course, was not a scientific study in the sense that the Yale study was, but nevertheless the experiment gave a new impetus to the child’s work with his/her reading and spelling cards, and parents reported that after the informal experiment they were continuing to use this method of going somewhere different to practise spellings.
Such an experiment is difficult to replicate at school, although in some schools a small group of dyscalculic and dyslexic pupils or students are being taken out to a new location from time to time with a specific set of spellings or a maths table to learn.
Again, this is an informal experiment but teachers are reporting that, as the Yale study predicts, learning is accelerated and retained for longer than might otherwise be expected. What’s more, not only does learning increase at an unexpectedly high rate but so does the self-esteem of the pupils or students.
This has led to several schools leasing or sharing an extra minibus so that their SEN students can learn in a different environment more often. There is more information on using learning outside as a way of stimulating learning in this article and there is more about the leasing of minibuses at www.minibusleasing.co.uk/minibus-services.php.
It is interesting that very few local authorities have produced what might be called a school trip guide for their area. Which is why we have constructed a list of English counties (found at the bottom of this email) and added a link to a site that lists a number of locations within that county, containing details of places to visit that will be of interest to schools.
We are not suggesting that each link is the only, or indeed the best, link to a set of locations in the county, so if you would like to suggest another site which could be of interest please do send it, with the name of the county it relates to, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where we have no link it is because we simply haven’t found anything at all. If you can fill in the gaps, again please do write to Sam.
It is commonly observed that in schools where learning outside the classroom takes place, attendance records improve and behavioural problems decline.
So it would seem to be a debatable point as to whether the current practice of keeping students within a set of rooms in groups of 30 or so pupils for five hours or so a day, five days a week, is a good idea. We do it, because that is how schooling has evolved, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Certainly being outside the classroom is liable to encourage the pupils and students to become healthier, and the resources beyond the classroom are far greater than those within.
But to provide your students with this alternative, you will likely need a suitable mode of transport, which is why the team here at Benchmark have for some time been working hard to create the most convenient minibus packages for schools.
To speak to someone about leasing a minibus, call 01753 859944 or email email@example.com. Alternatively, you can browse the minibuses that we lease (including Accessible Minibuses) on our website at: www.minibusleasing.co.uk/minibus-services.php.
About two million years ago a common ancestor of Darwin’s Finches arrived on the Galapagos Islands. There are now 15 species of finch located on the islands, all ranging in size, colour, and beak shape. Recently, however, another species has emerged, not through natural selection as before but through hybridisation – the mating of two different species to create a new one.
Similarly, the way in which schools acquire a school minibus has evolved, and more recently we have also witnessed hybridisation. We know this because over the last decade or so we have been issuing surveys to schools, asking them about which methods they use to acquire their minibus.
Approximately ten years ago, most schools owned a minibus outright (some of whom shared their minibus with a neighbouring school), but as time went on and budgets were squeezed we saw an increase in the leasing of school minibuses (the evolution). From then, there was a rise in the number of schools opting to share their leased minibus with a neighbouring school in the same cluster, trust or council (hybridisation), presumably because budgets were squeezed even further.
As you might be able to tell by this market research, the team here at Benchmark have for some time been working hard to create the most convenient minibus packages for schools – evolving (there’s that word again) the arrangement through feedback, primarily from teachers, site managers, administrators, and management.
To speak to someone about buying a minibus, leasing a minibus, or sharing a leased or bought minibus with a neighbouring school in the same cluster, trust, or council, call 01753 859944 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can browse the minibuses that we sell and lease (including Accessible Minibuses) on our website at: www.minibusleasing.co.uk/minibus-services.php.
Creativity is not a subject. Art, music, English, drama, dance – these are subjects, but in part they are teaching their own techniques and history as well as the creative application of the skills of the subject.
But learning outside the classroom gives an opportunity to explore creativity itself, because it takes the pupils and students into a new world, where novel responses are needed.
Every one of the art forms listed above has a strong tradition of working beyond enclosed spaces, from the artist painting outdoors, to the musician considering the sounds of the environment and how the sounds of his/her instrument changes outdoors. Drama and dance likewise take on new forms when removed from the normal environment.
So thus we have an opportunity to decouple the artistic form from the normal environment of learning and start to explore the notion of creative responses to what we see outside.
But this can go further. If the pupils or students are learning about a particular historical event or location (the battlefield, the castle…) and they can visit such a location, then rather than just observe and maybe touch, they can move on to begin to consider a creative response.
The more the pupils and students are engaged with the environment the more their inventiveness is liberated. Take them to an ancient stone circle, and they can not only contemplate the world of the ancients who built it, but also consider it from their own perspective.
Clearly, to be able to offer your pupils regular learning outside the classroom experiences, you will need a suitable and affordable mode of transport, which is why Benchmark focuses on leasing minibuses to schools.
It is an arrangement which very often makes it possible for schools to fund the minibus through a small payment each month. And in some cases, where trips are paid for by contributions from parents and the PTA, it is possible to allocate a part of those payments towards the cost of the minibus – reducing the funds being deducted from the school’s capital account.
What’s more, through leasing a minibus from us, we take responsibility for its maintenance, thus absorbing the costs and keeping the vehicle fully operational at all times.
If you are interested in finding out more about the benefits of leasing a minibus, please visit http://minibusleasing.co.uk/. Alternatively, you can call 01753 859944 or email email@example.com.
Purchasing a new minibus costs money, lots and lots of money. Money that most school just don’t have. Not now, not next week, not the week after…
And indeed, after taking into account the additional maintenance costs that come with the responsibility of the school owning a minibus, even considering the purchase is for most schools unimaginable.
Which is why we have introduced the leasing of minibuses to schools.
An arrangement which very often makes it possible for schools to fund the minibus through a small payment each month.
When you lease a minibus from us we take responsibility for its maintenance, thus absorbing the costs and keeping the vehicle fully operational at all times.
And in some cases, where trips are paid for by contributions from parents and the PTA, it is possible for schools to allocate a part of those payments towards the cost of the minibus – reducing the funds being deducted from the school’s capital account.
Not only will a new minibus help the school arrange beyond the classroom activities but it will also be a statement to prospective parents about the breadth and scope of the school’s vision.
Benchmark Leasing specialises in the supply and maintenance of school minibuses. If you are interested in the benefits of a minibus do call us on 01753 859944 or visit http://minibusleasing.co.uk/.
Minibuses tend to have two problems. First they can’t be in two places at once, and second they don’t carry enough people.
Now of course the first of these two problems is one that affects all modes of transport, but the second is a problem that is particular to the minibus.
But fortunately, both of these problems can be overcome very readily – and the good news is that the solution doesn’t involve waiting for the TARDIS to become an affordable everyday mode of transport.
The answer of course is obvious – but it is an answer which is often ignored because it is instantly rejected on the grounds of it being too expensive. But that concern no longer applies.
Quite simply the solution is to have two minibuses – thus allowing the bus to be in two places at once or on other occasions to have double the capacity where a whole class needs to go to one location.
As for the cost, this is overcome by leasing the second bus (or indeed should you wish, leasing both).
Leasing can often work out cheaper than buying (especially if one takes into account the re-sale value of a school bus at the end of its working life), and incorporates a full maintenance programme – thus avoiding any increase in the work that needs to be undertaken by school staff.
Indeed since the leasing includes not just the costs of the service, but also MOT and overall maintenance of the vehicle are absorbed in the monthly fee, the savings can be significant.
What’s more, because a second bus removes the need to hire a coach on certain occasions, the saving can be even greater than at first imagined.
Leasing a second minibus with Benchmark makes it possible for schools to afford a modern minibus with greater capacity through a small monthly payment.
90% of schools own a minibus – of which your school may be one. But it is very often the case that a school minibus doesn’t get used as often as one might like because it simply isn’t big enough.
For if the number of students is greater than the capacity of the minibus, alternative modes of transport need to be arranged.
And this costs. Not least as a result of the additional costs arising from arranging alternative transport, but also because the minibus becomes cost inefficient. Particularly when we consider the capital spent on the initial purchase, the MOT, servicing, taxing, and insuring of the vehicle.
Yet purchasing a new minibus with greater capacity is not always an option for schools as budgets don’t often stretch this far. So what is the solution?
In leasing with Benchmark it is possible for schools to afford a modern minibus with greater capacity through a small monthly payment. And in some cases, where trips are paid for by contributions from parents and the PTA, it is possible to allocate a part of those payments towards the cost of the minibus – reducing the funds being deducted from the school’s capital account.
Things going wrong on school trips is almost inevitable because, as you will know if you have ever had the pleasure of organising a school trip, many of the things that do go wrong are those over which you have absolutely no control.
Interestingly, a TES article has set out five things that are likely to go wrong on school trips – some of which you can probably relate to – so here goes…
“1) Permission slips – You told them they would need one numerous times, you told their parents they would need one numerous times and you emailed/texted/posted a letter saying exactly the same thing. And yet, here they are: excited, grinning with enthusiasm, all their kit ready and not a single permission slip in sight.
“2) The packed lunches – You’ve spent 30 minutes travelling in a 1970s living room (complete with curtains) masquerading as a coach, and for some reason every child has already eaten their lunch. Quite why school trips cause insatiable hunger, no one knows, but what you do know is that your carefully prepared meal is going to be shared into 30 equal parts.
“3) The lost items – Yes, they’ve had the spiel about the school not being responsible for lost or stolen items, but guess who is running back through every exhibition room searching for a missing iPod? Wide-eyed and frantic, you interrogate anyone who looks vaguely official, only to eventually get a call from another teacher to say that the iPod has been found. At the bottom of the child’s bag…
“4) The vomit – Excessive excitement, excessive sugar, excessive tiredness, and excessively aggressive driving by the coach driver. There is no combination more accomplished at causing vomit than that. You reach for the sick bag, but you know it’s too late. The children in the seats behind scramble for safety as the stream of sick winds slowly towards the back of the coach.
“5) Missing parents – You begin to think that, this time, things are going to be different. But then you spot it: the one student standing on their own. A phone call, some swearing, and then a screech into the car park. The frantic parent loads the student into the car with profuse apologies and protests that they are “sure it said 5pm not 4pm”. And with that, you finally head home, vowing never to do this again but knowing full well you’ll be repeating the process next term.”
However, one thing that teachers typically dread most about school trips is the not impossible likelihood of the school’s minibus breaking down – which is actually something that the school does have control over.
Of course, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of this happening by ensuring that the school’s minibus is enrolled on a full maintenance programme, which is just one of the services that Benchmark offer as part of the leasing arrangements they have with schools.
And another benefit of leasing a minibus with Benchmark is that it can often work out to be cheaper than buying a minibus outright (especially if one takes into account the re-sale value of a school bus at the end of its working life) or indeed the cost of hiring a coach each time.
It is an arrangement which makes it possible for schools to fund the minibus through a small payment each month, which has the added benefit of improved budgeting and cash flow.