Sitting at home with my feet up I can relax and look back, not just on this year’s Battlefields Trip, but on the previous 7 that I have been privileged to either attend or lead.
Mercat Tours International don’t call this a trip, It’s a Battlefields Experience, it’s certainly not a school trip nor a holiday. It’s an experience for pupils and staff alike, and no matter how many times staff members take part we learn something new each and every year. For our pupils this experience is multifaceted, there is the history of World War One, there are the personal stories of the soldiers who died, there are stories of great courage and self sacrifice, it is also made very plain that war is a madness which could and should be avoided, our young people get this message, which gives me hope for the future.
We as teachers watch 70 odd quite young pupils, many of them away from home on their own for the first time, they arrive perhaps with one friend on the trip, sometimes none, they are anxious at first then new friendships develop, they gel as a group, they become A Company or B Company, grow in confidence with each passing and often make long and lasting friendships. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher.
The Battlefields Experience is truly Inter Disciplinary Learning, there is History naturally, Music, (by now no doubt you parents are aware of this), Technology, Poetry, Literature, Geography, Art, Languages, Mathematics, Science and Technology.
Some of you may be aware that this is my last trip with Dunblane High School as a teacher, however no one is irreplaceable and the trip will go from strength to strength under the new Commanding Officer, Mrs Smith and her second in Command, Mr Denny, there is also a very good support team of experienced teachers who return year after year.
For myself the Battlefields Experience which started with the “4th Pals” and ended with the “11th Pals” has probably been the highlight of my teaching career, I’ve been in Belgium and France with something approaching 550 pupils, each and every one of these has benefited greatly from the experience and many, now in their mid to late 20’s, still stop me in the High Street and reminisce about their trip.
I’ve many people to thank for making this experience for me what it has been, obviously Mrs Smith and Mr Denny, the Mercat Tours International Guides these wonderful people bring the dead to life, also Bibby’s coach drivers who’s driving skills are second to none, as is their route knowledge, but more importantly their interest in the subject makes them a second guide on each coach.
So 8 trips, and if you’ll pardon the pun, it’s been a blast.
Wipe the tear, baby dear, from your eye-ee.
Though it’s hard to part I know, (I know)
I’ll be tickled to death to go!
Don’t cry-ee, don’t sigh-ee,
There’s a silver lining in the sky-ee!
Bonsoir old thing, cheerio, chin-chin,
Nah-poo, toodle-oo, goodbye-ee!