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Duncan from Diss talks School Trips

We catch up with Duncan from Diss High School during his trip to Buddens Activity Centre. As a long-term customer - his first trip with Rockley was to La Rive in 1997, they were unfortunately unable to go on their usual French residential trip due to Covid 19 so opted for Rockley’s new activity centre based in the Purbecks, as an alternative.

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Why run a trip and why Rockley?

I think, as a teacher, we do what we do in the classroom, and the kids get a lot from that, but actually, it’s a lot broader than that. It’s those extra experiences that they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives. As as a kid myself, I was really lucky and spent a lot time on the water sailing and windsurfing. I remember how much I enjoyed it, and so was looking around for somewhere that could offer the same kind of things to our students and luckily managed to find Rockley. We’ve visited all the centres - Le Lac, La Rive, AzuRivage and now Buddens, and all the stops are pulled out to make sure the kids get a good time.

 

So why stick with Rockley for so long?

We get the sort of customer service that you expect - we know that you’re always on the end of a phone and we can speak to the same person time and time and time again. We’ve got that point of contact and it doesn’t tend to change, so that family business bit helps. And then on top of that, we’ve never had a bad trip. The kids come back absolutely buzzing. It’s become a real feature for the school because of the reputation and we know the quality of product that we’re going to get. We started with about 35 kids and now have up to 140 kids from two year groups which is just phenomenal for an overseas trip.

Rockley and how it’s dealt with the pandemic.

We had trips booked with other companies, and I know what kind of response we were getting from them compared with Rockley. With you it was all about. ‘Let’s try and make it work and if it can’t work, let’s look at the alternatives.’ As far as I’m concerned, everything was offered for those kids and for those parents who didn’t feel comfortable about postponing, they got their money back. We realise that it’s been an incredibly difficult time for yourselves, but actually, we couldn’t have asked any more from you - we were dealt with properly and have been supported all the way through.


Activity trips, mental health & the pandemic.

It’s always had a massive impact. In many cases we’ve taken kids with us and I don’t know how they’re going to cope, but actually they do more than cope. We have parents getting in touch saying what a change they’ve seen in their child and how it’s actually made them more outgoing. We don’t let them bring their phones so they have to engage with each other, and it’s always had a really positive effect. This year, more so than ever, the feedback from parents is that they just want their kids to be kids again - to get out and have a holiday and just have that kind of release of energy. It’s been absolutely fantastic. They’re going to have those memories now and the experiences of doing things that they wouldn’t normally do at home, so it’s been great.

Residential trips and how they affect behaviours and attitudes towards learning.

I’m a firm believer that education is about relationships. If we just turned up delivering a lesson, we’re not really doing our job and so a trip allows them to see you in a different light, it allows us to see them in a different way, and it can change those conversations when we go back. Yeah, it makes them more rounded individuals - I know it sounds a bit clich but it does. And if you don’t offer these experiences, then they’re not going to go out and get them for themselves. It just opens their eyes and makes them realise that there’s something else out there.

This year’s trip - “unexpected but FANTASTIC!”

It wasn’t the trip we wanted to offer but it is something very similar to what we’ve had in France. There’s a bigger range of activities, and actually the kids have really responded well - they’re enjoying the tower activities, the archery and axe throwing. We’ve just got this huge area that they can run around in and explore - it’s just this enormous sort of open air playground! So yeah, it’s been absolutely fantastic!

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