Taking children to That London

Looking through the Gates of Buckingham Palace
Looking through the Gates of Buckingham Palace

I love my home city: Birmingham.

But I love London too, and whenever I go there, I can’t help feeling just a little parochial. It’s a great privilege to be able to take children to London and something that I’ve enjoyed doing over many years. Back when the O2 Arena was known as the Millenium Dome, I brought children down to experience what all the fuss was about.

London is so amazing, that you don’t even have to go into anything. A tube pass is all you need and you can spend the day boggled by Buckingham Palace, awed by the Houses of Parliament and stunned by the Tower of London.

I brought 6 children to BETT this year and aside from the ideas they’’ll be taking back to school council for future technology spending, they really enjoyed the whole travelling to and being in London.

Some of the group had not been on a train before (Birmingham is a very spread out city by English standards: the car and the bus reign supreme), but by the time we had finished the day we had travelled on ten trains.

Some of the groups had not seen a Palace Guardsmen in real life before, nor Big Ben, nor walked down the Mall. We did all those things as well as our visit to the technology show known as BETT.

I would love to take a whole class to London every year, but finances and time do not allow. Wouldn’t it be great though if every child had that opportunity, so they could find out all about their capital city, see the building in real life that they only normally see on Doctor Who and walk the same streets of those who make the decisions that shape their lives.

Yet many children in Birmingham never even travel to Birmingham City Centre, let alone London – is this an issue schools should address?

One thought on “Taking children to That London”

  1. With 3 or 4 absolutely dedicated colleagues, I took my Year 5 and 6 children to London for a residential holiday week every year for 19 years (only missed once – the year of the London bombing, when our trip had been booked for the following week.)
    As Head teacher, I could ensure that the trip was (heavily) subsidised so that everyone could and did go. What a memorable time our Salford children always had!
    We stopped in University Halls and went everywhere, including Parliament and to many great shows in West End theatres. How they loved ‘Oliver’ at the Theatre Royal. As the years went by, we had the catering, tube trips and walking routes, travelling, excursions and time tabling really sorted. It was incredibly hard work for the staff but my wonderful volunteer teachers knew what a truly worthwhile experience we providing for our inner city Salford children. It was such a wonderful experience too for the many children from overseas who joined the school over the last decade – all of them learned to love and value our great capital city with all its excitement and treasures, as much as I do. A great ‘citizenship’ and unifying experience – well worth all the paperwork, planning and preparation which was easier anyway as the years went by. The week we spent in London during the Queen’s Jubilee was one to really remember – singing ‘Our House’ with vast crowds on the Mall then dancing the conga back through St James’ Park with thousands of other revellers ( to the tune of ‘Choo choo coho the train line’)
    I retired at Christmas. Many, many past pupils came back to say goodbye and so many mentioned the London trip with such happiness. London gave them the opportunity to stay at the University of Westminster, taste student life, see new places and meet people from all over the world who had come to visit our capital city. They had such glimpses of future possibilities – posing on the steps of RADA, talking to the curators at the British Museum about their wonderful jobs, realising that they could use their talents to become set designers just like the ones they saw at London Palladium. Ah, lovely London and wonderful children and teachers- I miss them all.
    The school no longer goes on the ‘London Journey’ – when this was mentioned, my successor asked,” London? Is ther enough to do in London?” ( The sub text was that this annual excursion didn’t seem to be directly related to raising SATs.)

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