Lorna, who is the Assistant Principal of The Farnley Academy in Leeds, which is part of The Gorse Academies Trust, was recognised in the Pearson Teaching Awards for transforming her school’s geography department. Judges praised Lorna, crediting her with bringing a lively and dynamic curriculum to the school and growing numbers of students studying GCSE geography exponentially as a result.
Part of this success she credits to YHA School Trips. Lorna chooses to stay at Youth Hostels as part of school-led residential learning experiences. She said: “The annual geography residential school trip to YHA Ambleside makes a huge contribution to results and increasing the cohort. If there are any students doubting whether to take geography, the field trip usually swings their decision.”
Students studying geography and travel and tourism at The Farnley Academy have been staying at YHAs since Lorna joined the school in 2012. She explained: “Residential trips are not a compulsory element within the curriculum, luckily my school very much supports them. They are excellent for team building both amongst the students and staff. The benefits of a residential field trip are ultimately reflected in the students’ results.”
The school has stayed at a number of YHAs for school trips, including YHA Boggle Hole and YHA Ambleside for geography field trips and YHA Liverpool and YHA York with its travel and tourism students. Without exception, all Youth Hostels have met Lorna’s expectations. She said: “I have found YHA staff to be accommodating and flexible and understanding of schools’ needs, from catering for picky eaters to hungry teenage boys to ensuring that staff bedrooms are always appropriately spaced between student areas to provide good supervision ratios.”
100 Year 11 students from The Farnley Academy now undertake the two-day geography field trip each year. YHA Boggle Hole was the YHA of choice for three consecutive years for The Farnley Academy’s geography field trip until it outgrew the Youth Hostel. “We loved YHA Boggle Hole and its staff and we were sad to go, however YHA Ambleside has been equally accommodating in every respect, from the staff to the facilities in the Youth Hostel. It’s clear that YHA staff enjoy their job and appreciate and support me and my staff in managing the students.”
To ensure all students are accommodated and have the best learning and residential experience at YHA Ambleside, the group is split in two; half attend at the beginning of the week with a cross over mid-week for the remaining students.
Asked to name one thing that YHA does to ensure her school trips are successful, Lorna can’t; instead she names four. She said:
– YHA understands the requirements of schools and is able to support education through the provision of accommodation.
– Staff in the hostels are supportive and on hand without being intrusive.
– The accommodation, particularly full board, is excellent value for money.
– YHA is easy to communicate with. Once I have booked the trip I am able to communicate directly with the Youth Hostel to discuss and plan any specific needs.
Although Lorna has been bringing students to YHA for five years, her relationship with YHA goes back much further. Prior to becoming a teacher Lorna worked in YHA’s Contact Centre in Matlock. She explained: “Although working for YHA gave me a deep understanding and awareness of the locations of its Youth Hostels and facilities, it has been wonderful to learn that YHA staff in the hostels share my ethics and morals about education and have a passion for getting young people outdoors and that contributes hugely to having a very successful field trip.”