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Carisbrooke College's Trip to the USA

This school trip was a runner up in the ‘My Best School Trip’ award at the School Travel Awards 2018.

School name: Carisbrooke College

Destination: New York and Washington DC

Subject area: Humanities 

Why this trip?

When the humanities department at Carisbrooke College started considering their next school trip, they decided on one which had both a historical and geographical element. 

They decided to visit the USA. For the history students, who follow AQA USA 1919-1972, a trip to the USA would allow them to develop a better understanding of the American government and political system. Their teachers hoped that the trip would allow them to consolidate and explore more deeply the depth study aspect of their GCSE specification. 

For the geography students, the trip would compliment their studies of mega cities and the dynamic environment that you find within them. 

Why this destination?

Primarily, the USA was chosen because GCSE history students at Carisbrooke College study American history as part of their depth study. 

New York offers the opportunity to study the impact of immigration at Ellis Island and the UN building is also located here. 

As well as this, the emergence of skyscrapers and their impact can also be assessed. 

And then, Washington D.C. is, of course, the seat of American government and so the opportunity to be able to assess the Capitol is enriching and enlightening experience.

What did they get up to?

In short, loads! In New York, the group visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the UN building, the Empire State building and Top of the Rock. They also visited the 911 Memorial & Museum and took a self-guided tour of downtown Manhattan. 

In the evenings they caught a Broadway Show and even went to see a national ice hockey match in Brooklyn. 

On the way to Washington D.C., the group stopped off in Philadelphia to visit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. 

Once in D.C. they visited the Capitol, many of the Smithsonian museums and the White House, as well as taking a guided tour of the monuments. 

They chose these particular activities because they wanted a mix of the historical and educationally important venues, such as the UN building and 911 Memorial. They also wanted to offer the students some cultural enrichment through the evening activities. 

And many of the activities and visits actually proved to be very good value for money, with a lot of the places in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia being free.

Did the trip fulfil the Group Leader’s aims and objectives?

“Students have come back fully aware of the US political scene and have been able to speak eloquently of their experience. To such an extent that this trip was runner up in the ‘My Best School Trip’ award at the School Travel Awards

It has had a knock-on effect for student uptake and retention for humanities based subjects, with students keen to be a part of the trip, to the extent that we have had over 40 student participating two years in a row.”

What benefits did the trip offer students?

“The benefits are boundless for us. For some students it was their first time away from home, for others their first plane ride and for most the first time they had been in the USA. 

It was incredible to see the change in personalities of some of the students when away, the questions they asked and how for some students it broadened their horizons. 

Our first group of students still refer to it as the trip of a lifetime and the best trip they have ever been on.”

What will be the Group Leader’s lasting memories of the trip?

“The memories are varied. 

The UN building was very poignant and is incredibly interesting. The students go in with mixed expectations, but come out quite blown away by the work that is done. 

The 911 Memorial & Museum is very powerful and gives a very different experience of a museum to those which most of them have encountered before. 

And in Washington the depth of knowledge shown by the local guides we’ve had two years in a row has been brilliant - they make the walking tours come alive.” 

Why did they choose Halsbury for this trip?

“I was looking for a competitive price but also the professionalism of the organisation. 

As you are committing a lot of other people’s money I wanted an organisation who I could trust and who I wouldn’t have to chase. 

Halsbury was one of the few companies I didn’t have to chase for a quote and they impressed me with their confidence and straightforward approach from first contact.”

And how was the Halsbury experience?

“The experience has been good. 

An advisor was available all the time and with any concern I had, I was made to feel important, and they were quick to reassure and provide information. 

Their travel app and pre-information was good, and the advisors had excellent knowledge of the locations we were going to. But they were also happy to alter the trip to our own needs and specifications." 

Would the Group Leader recommend Halsbury to friends and colleagues?

“Very much so, it is hard to find an organisation that you can trust and who don’t let you down. 

Quite often the experience you have once you have paid the deposit doesn’t always make you want to give repeat trade, but this has not been the case with Halsbury. 

I wouldn’t say they will definitely be the cheapest, but you do pay for what you get! And sometimes paying the lowest sometimes gives a less than impressive service.”

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