Perrins Community School – The Benefits of a Guided History Tour

Perrins Community School, a secondary school in Hampshire, have a long tradition of self-guided WW1 Battlefield tours. However this year Mike Jewell decided to try something different and, for the first time, booked a guided history tour.

The tour to Ypres & the Somme is a regular trip in the school diary and travelling in February means Year 9 students are at the start of their 3 year GCSE course. They know about it in Year 8 and the trip is part of the draw of choosing History as an option. Whilst the tour supports the International Relations module of their GCSE, as the aim is for them to see the real impact of WW1 and as such the school considered it an enrichment trip

Mike told us about the highlights of the trip and how choosing a guided tour helped take the trip to a different level for Perrins Community School.  

Changing to a guided tour invigorated the trip for us

We decided to take a different approach this time. I wanted to reinvigorate the tour whilst keeping the most important aspects of it. Our guide David came into school some months before and talked about various options that would allow us to do things a little differently. We liked the different sites he suggested and it was a great help to have the chance to meet David face to face whilst we were planning the tour. He then came to school again for the parents’ presentation, which was helpful.

Cut out the stress

Having a guide with us throughout the tour definitely took the pressure off us as teachers. It meant that we could manage the children and David would do the rest. Little things like organising and collecting the packed lunches, managing the logistics – all this takes time but David looked after this so the we could focus on the children.

Our guide brought history to life.

David did a lot of research on the men listed on War Memorial in New Arlesford, which is where we are from so he was able to give us stories on local soldiers. He had so many stories and personal accounts to tell us. One brilliant thing he did for us was to arrange a memorial service at Thiepval Memorial. David did a great job of inspiring the students.

We were learning as well as the students

We don’t have the same level of local knowledge as David. He took us to sites and memorials we hadn’t seen before, which was a real benefit. We are all passionate history teachers so it was fantastic for us and we are learning as well.

Our guide tailored our itinerary whilst on tour

Whilst on the tour David realised that a lot of our lads are keen footballers, so he asked if we would like to see the memorial to the Christmas Truce, which was a real highlight for us and for the students. We would never have known how to get there.

The students’ highlights

One of the students got to dress up in a soldier’s uniform and he’s not stopped talking about it. A lot of the boys loved the memorial to the Christmas Truce and a real highlight for the entire group was the memorial service at Thiepval.

Our teacher highlights

Selfishly, as a teacher seeing things I hadn’t seen before. The variation in the visits meant I was seeing memorials and sites I didn’t know existed. Also just the general smoothness of the tour was a highlight for me.

We were still in control of the tour

You take the guide so they can manage where we need to be, but as the teachers we were still very much in charge and making the decisions each day. David would constantly check with us if we were ok with the timings on the itinerary and what we wanted to cover. A good example is that we decided to cut out a visit on the last day as we felt the students needed a bit more sleep and they would appreciate a little ‘down time’ for shopping. David was great about re-arranging this for us.

I will take a guided history tour again

It just makes life so much easier. Having a guide cuts out the stress of organising getting from A to B, which means you have more time to focus on your students. You don’t need to worry about where you need to be next and by when.