As part of our series on inspirational school trips, we spoke to our founder and Managing Director, former French teacher Keith Sharkey. Here he tells us about how his own school trips inspired him.
It was actually a number of school trips that changed my life. When I was 11 years old I went on a school trip to Interlaken, Switzerland, by train. I was immediately struck by the dramatic mountains and impressive architecture. We were also very lucky with the weather, which was fantastic.
I fell in love with those mountains, the architecture and magical scenery and was fascinated by the fact that Switzerland had four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh.
It was this first immersion in foreign languages that left a deep impression on me. I later had the opportunity to visit Paris on a French exchange, where I stayed with a French family. Fifty years on, I still keep in touch with my penfriend, who I visited every year between the ages of 12 and 18. It was through this friendship that I learnt to speak French rather well.
Eventually, after I finished my A Levels, I took a summer job with my penfriend and his brother as a ‘Moniteur’ (camp counsellor) on a summer camp for Parisian children in La Chappelle d’Abondance in the French Alps.
It was these experiences that led me to study French at university, before spending some time living and working in Paris and the French Alps, where I learnt to ski. Working in ski resorts in the French Alps really helped me to perfect my French and so I decided to share my passion for the language by going into teaching.
As a child, my horizons were relatively narrow. I was brought up in a tiny village in Hertfordshire and, as far as I was concerned, that was my whole world. Travelling expanded my horizons and my ambitions grew as a direct result of staying in France with my penfriend’s family.
From visiting Switzerland and France, I now run the UK’s fastest-growing educational tour operator and have personally visited six of the seven continents. I truly believe that school trips broaden the horizons and that is why I founded Halsbury Travel 30 years ago.
Both as a student and as a teacher, I have seen the impact that educational travel can have on students. Our company ethos is to help teachers provide these opportunities to more young people, which is why we specialise in tailor-made school trips.
Do you want to inspire your students? A school trip can really bring your subject to life! For more information or advice, contact our experienced team of School Travel Specialists today!