New Technology Brings Field Trips into Classrooms

Research shows three quarters of primary school teachers currently find cost a barrier to taking children on trips

British primary schoolchildren will be transported through special online field trips to places as far away as the Italian countryside and the rice fields of India as part of a new initiative to teach them where their food comes from.

The technology, pioneered in the US, is being brought to UK schoolchildren and tailored to the national curriculum. It has already been used by NASA to connect schoolchildren to astronauts in space.

The Online Field Trips have been created by Tesco, working closely with teachers and using Google+ technology, as part of the retailer’s Eat Happy Project. They will allow primary school children to learn about food by talking directly to food growers and producers both in the UK and thousands of miles away, live from their own classroom.

The first Trips took place today [Thursday 5th June] and saw children transported to Italy, where Giuseppe Di Martino, a pasta producer in Naples, guided them through a 30 minute lesson on the pasta he makes and answered questions from the pupils.  

The Online Field Trips have been launched as new research published today shows that a cheaper way of giving children access to overseas field trips would be of huge benefit to parents, children and teachers.

The research finds that...

Over a third of UK parents of five to 11 year olds find it difficult to pay towards field trips for their children; One in five (21 per cent) primary school teachers have taken fewer field trips this year compared to last year; and Seven out of ten teachers surveyed were also conscious of not wanting to have to make too many requests to parents for money.

The research also found that UK primary school teachers are big believers in the benefits of school field trips. Over three quarters (83 per cent) strongly agreed that school trips are an important element of a child’s academic learning. Nine out of 10 teachers also strongly agree that seeing things with their own eyes helps children put the things they learn into context with the real world.

It’s a view backed by the UK’s parents, with 90 per cent believing that field trips are an important part of their children’s education.

The children taking part will also be able to interact with other classes from around the UK during the trip. Future trips will see children connect with suppliers including rice growers in India, cheese farmers in Yorkshire and strawberry farms in Kent. 

Paul Walker, Chair of National Primary Heads said:

“Field Trips are an important part of school life that support the curriculum by allowing pupils to learn first-hand about the world around them. The introduction of Online Field Trips is hugely exciting as it will also give pupils the opportunity to explore parts of the world that are out of reach to the vast majority of schools.“The cost of taking 30 children and four teachers to Naples on a field trip would be a huge commitment in time and money that would easily run into thousands of pounds. For children and teachers to have access to these first hand experiences without leaving their classroom is invaluable.”

Tesco is committed to helping young people live healthier lives. In response to feedback from customers and parents, Tesco last month announced that it would become the first major retailer in the UK to remove sweets and chocolate from checkouts across all its store formats.