On Wednesday 6th April five students and four members of staff excitedly embarked on a coach from school at 8am to begin our three-day educational trip to London. Although we have always taken our students camping each year this was our first trip to a capital city.
The students coped very well with the journey and we arrived at the National History Museum at 2pm. The building itself was very impressive and inside there was a vast range of eighty million objects from various segments of natural history.
After our visit we got back on the coach which took us to the YHA on the Strand. After settling in we then walked a little way up the road to Pizza Express where we all enjoyed a pizza or pasta dish. It was a very busy restaurant and our students dealt with this environment very well.
The next day after breakfast, we walked across the road to Kings Cross Station to visit the famous Platform 9 ¾. This of course is part of the wizarding world of Harry Potter where Harry and his friends get to the platform by dashing through a brick wall between platforms 9 and 10. In the real King’s Cross, platforms 9 and 10 are separated by tracks, but you can find a platform 9 3/4 on the wall in the station concourse. The trolley is in place and students and staff had their pictures taken to re-enact this part of the film.
After this, we all got on the coach and were taken to Madame Taussauds where the students were able to stand with and have their picture taken with 300 amazing wax figures of people from film, music, history and sport. The students also took part in a 4D experience watching a short film. Many of us were able to meet our idols and we knew that this was probably the closest we would ever get to some of them. We were very honoured to have our picture taken with the Royal family!
From here we went on the London Eye and despite some of the students not liking heights we all enjoyed the wonderful views of London. It was great to try to spot some of the landmarks including the Houses of Parliament, the Shard, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Tower Bridge.
Our next visit was to the Shrek Adventure which in conjunction with DreamWorks Animation, brings to life the hilarious world of Shrek and friends. The fantastical tour combines 10 laugh-out-loud live shows and classic sets from the Shrek films with captivating storytelling, an amazing 4D ride, dramatic special effects and extraordinary DreamWorks animation.
After eating out at a restaurant near to the Lyceum Theatre, we queued to watch ‘The Lion King’ musical. This part of the trip was something that we were not sure whether our students would enjoy but all of them were mesmerised by all the costumes and staging as well as the singing and dancing. This did not finish until 10pm and all the students were impeccable with their behaviour in the theatre and afterwards.
Before returning home our English teacher, Sophie, used her regiment contacts from her time as an Army musician to arrange a special VIP visit to Wellington Barracks. This is the home of the various Guards Regiments based in London.
Here we listened to the British Army Band Colchester as they prepared to Mount the Guard from St James Park to Buckingham Palace.
Colour Sergeant Smart then took us to see the Grenadier Guards prepare for their Guard Mount.
The students were very excited to meet some of the soldiers (a very rare opportunity as they are trained to ignore civilians and to stay focussed on their task!). However, some of the soldiers were kind enough to let some students hold their rifles and have a close look at their uniforms.
We also were able to meet some of the musicians and hear some of the more interesting instruments such as the Bassoon and Tuba.
We then had the privilege of going onto the Parade square to see the troops. They were ‘dressed off’ into smart rows and then inspected by the Officers to make sure all their uniform was good enough for the Queen! After the band and troops marched off, we had a look around the barracks and the students really enjoyed looking at the regimental photographs and memorabilia.
This successful educational trip gave our SEMH students the opportunities to experience a wide range of emotions and new opportunities that contributed to enhancing their personal development and ultimately this will support them in their future lives.
A G-G: ‘I liked being with my teachers and classmates’. I liked the London Eye because you could see the whole of London. I loved the croissants that we had for our continental breakfast. I want to go back to London when I am older’.
LW: ‘The lion King was a really amazing experience, I don’t think I would have ever got to see it maybe so I was really glad to experience it. The Youth Hostel was realty good. Madame Tussauds was really good.’
CS: ‘The Lion King was a really good experience, it was amazing but I really loved Madame Tussauds. The 4D experience was probably my favourite part. The pasta was the best I have ever eaten! There were a lot of highs and lows: I conquered a lot of fears and feeling nervous with gong on the London Eye and sitting in a packed theatre. I find it really hard to let go and enjoy anything so I was really surprised I could do that and enjoy the theatre’.
RS: ‘The Lion King was epic. The statues in Madame Tussauds looked so real and I would definitely go again.’
EL: ‘I didn’t have a favourite thing as I loved it all but probably the Lion King if I had to pick one.’