Despite all this, if teachers can manage to do it, they are still incredibly worthwhile because getting children out of the classroom can provide so many benefits, not least in social and emotional development and increasing confidence.
Here is our selection (in no particular order) of some of the best free experiences for your consideration.
1. Pizza Express
Pizza Express have been running free school visits since 1999 and have it down to a fine art! Children get the opportunity to visit the kitchen, learn about food hygiene, find out about the fresh ingredients, knead their own dough and make their own individual pizzas which are cooked and can be taken back to school for lunch! How brilliant and all free of charge! Booking can be made via the website.
The Tesco Eat Happy Project has involved well over one and a half million children so far in its quest for children to have a “healthier, happier relationship with food”. Tesco offer free school visits in hundreds of their larger stores. The experiences are called ‘trails’ and are led by ‘trail guides’. There are several available including: Healthy Eating, Explore the Store, Sustainability, Food for Fuel, Easter, Autumn Harvest and Diwali. In all of them children are encouraged to taste and often make foods (such as bread or their own versions of muesli).
If you cannot get to a store, a trail guide will come to you. There are also thousands of free resources, including lessons plans, poems, stories, recipes and great videos. Visit the website for more information.
The RSPB have teamed up with Aldi to offer ‘trained educators’ who will come to your school and work with you in your school grounds, not just learning about birds, but about wildlife in general. The 90 minute sessions are entitled: Giving Nature a Home, Bioblitz and Big Schools Birdwatch and are currently offered in 17 cities around the UK. There is more information as well as free resources on the website.
Warburtons offer schools visits for 5-11 year olds to learn about bread making, food and healthy eating. The sessions are practical and informative and 99% of teachers would book a second visit or recommend the experience. The school visitor programme has been running for 20 years and has reached almost 30 000 children. Find out more here.
5. English Heritage
English Heritage offer free visits to over 400 of their sites for self-led groups. There is also the offer of a free familiarisation visit so teachers are able to plan the sort of experience they would like their children to have. Visits must be booked at least 7 days in advance and all the locations are listed at the website here.
6. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT)
The Trust offers free admission and optional learning session to eligible schools until December 2017. Eligibility is for state-funded schools where a high proportion of children on roll are eligible for free school meals. There are excellent reviews from teachers endorsing the experience. Find out more here.
7. RNLI (Royal National lifeboat Institution)
Free visits available to locations of your choice all over the country, or an RNLI volunteer will come to see you in your school or setting. The outreach team aims to teach and inspire children, not only about the rescue work of the lifeboat crews and lifeguards, but also about water safety in general. There is a large selection of resources, including lesson plans, videos, and activity sheets, available for children and young people from ages 3 – 18. Find out more here.
With thanks to Beverley Smalley for writing this blog. Beverley is an education specialist, writer and former primary school teacher.