School trip and student efficacy

Report of English Aim High Cambridge Trip

Compiled by: Dr V Lien

Participants: GCSE students, including five Year 10 (1 Pupil Premium) and seven Year 11 (1 Pupil Premium) students.

Date: Friday, 11, July 2014

Location: Clare College and Robinson College, Cambridge


  • With the support from the Head of English, the trip was organised to inspire some of the most able students in English to get the first-hand experience of Cambridge with a view to eventually apply for entry.
  • In view of the fact that no similar trip had been organised for GCSE students in the past few years, it was decided that the time was right to offer this opportunity.
  • It was the Faculty’s hope that a trip of this kind will increase the number of applications to specifically Cambridge from Harrogate Grammar School. It is also hoped that the number of students continue to study English will also increase as a result.

The Trip

Transport and Journey

  • School minibus was an ideal choice for a group of 15 (12 students and 3 members of staff). In additional to cutting down costs on hiring and fuel, using school minibus also meant that the trip leader had the flexibility to adjust itinerary according to local circumstances.
  • Two drivers proved to be a right decision as it was a 14-hour day trip with 6 hours (without delays on the motorway) on the road. This driving arrangement also meant that the trip leader could focus on the liaison and coordination upon arrival and the smooth running of the day’s activities/visits.
  • The journey from Harrogate Grammar School to Clare College was straightforward. Local knowledge of the trip leader also proved useful when an alternative route had to be found to avoid delay on the A14 into Cambridge on the day. The students behaved impeccably throughout. There was no travelling sickness en-route.

Activities and Visits (full detail in the Trip Blog post)

The day was organised in three key elements: Tour (College and town), Talk and Leisure.

Three tours were arranged for the day: tour of Clare College was given on arrival in the morning, whilst tour of town centre, tour of Sidgwick Site and the University Library and tour of Robinson College took place in the afternoon.

Two talks were also offered on the day. General introduction to studying at Cambridge (including subject choices, student welfare, societies, finance, subject choices at A-level, etc.) was given by Clare College’s School Liaison Officer in the morning. Academic talk was kindly offered by the Director of Studies in Classics, Dr Charles Weiss (the Director of Studies of English had sent apologies for not being able to help on this occasion regrettably due to personal circumstances), in the afternoon. An additional talk on the history of, and study at, Robinson College was the generous gesture of Dr Christopher Warner, a personal friend of the trip leader.

Finally, the trip concluded with a guided punting tour operated by Granta Moorings.

Feedback from Students and Staff

  • A questionnaire was sent out to all 12 participating students to illicit their thoughts and comments about the trip. All 12 students have responded.
  • The overall feedback is overwhelmingly positive. Firstly, the students have expressed genuine appreciation to be given the opportunity. Secondly, they have found all aspects of the trip either informative and/or enjoyable. The Introduction to studying at Cambridge has been quoted several times (6) as the most useful talk, whilst the subject talk was mentioned as the most interesting and inspiring (3). The punting tour was also greatly appreciated to mark the end of a successful visit when the students could just relax and enjoy the Backs whilst listening to the tour guides’ potted histories of the Colleges.
  • The most encouraging findings from this questionnaire is that almost all (11) have agreed that this trip has given them the motivation to “try your hardest in your studies” (Question 9). In addition, Almost all (11) have also agreed that they would “recommend this trip” (Question 10) to others next year.
  • Significantly, only two students have expressed the unlikelihood of their application to Cambridge. The rest of them have answered either “too early to think about this question” (1), “I might consider” (1), “I may consider” (1), “I will consider” (3) or “I will definitely apply” (4).
  • The Liaison Officer of Clare College responded favourably of the behaviour and quality of our students. Both Dr Weiss (Clare) and Dr Warner (Robinson) have also complemented on the intellectual quality of our students. Both agree that seeing an old College and a new College has been a sensible decision to allow the students to draw comparisons and make their own decisions.
  • The accompanying staff all agreed that it was a successful trip. The arrangement made sure that all support staff had sufficient time to rest and enjoy all aspects of the trip.

Follow-up actions

  1. Regular monitoring and tracking of these students’ progress throughout GCSE and A-level.
  2. Offering occasional and informal meetings to support those who have explicitly expressed desire to apply.
  3. Further, more detailed analysis of the data collected according to year groups and other relevant school data.
  4. Offering another trip next year, taking into consideration of suggestions made in the survey.

About W. S. Lien

Tweed Wearer - Country Lover - Teacher Researching Professionalism and Identity@Clare College, Cambridge - Keen Amateur Photographer - Devotee to Poppy my Labrador
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