In a recent survey carried out by Dr Catriona Pennell, Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Exeter, participating pupils rated our battlefield tours very highly. They said that the chance to see the battlefields, monuments and cemeteries on the Western Front for themselves had helped them gain a more profound understanding of the First World War and its continuing significance.
Dr Pennell’s evaluation of the pupil experience on the 2015 Spring tours was based on surveys completed by 681 pupil participants, a tour observation and two pupil focus groups.
The pupils were extremely enthusiastic about the whole tour experience with one survey respondent describing it as ‘very informative, eye opening’. Another pupil described the experience as ‘brilliant’. Pupils rated the opportunity to see the different cemeteries and memorials and the Menin Gate/Last Post ceremony, as well as the chance to make new friends, as the top three most popular aspects of the tour. 98.8% of survey respondents said that they would recommend the tour programme to their friends.
The survey findings have also provided us with invaluable feedback on how we can make further improvements to the tours programme. We have already begun to make changes to the itineraries to allow more time for discussion, reflection and the consolidation of learning, and to the quality of the food and drink on offer. The recent launch of our specially commissioned SEN resources will help to make the tours more accessible to an even wider range of pupils.
Dr Pennell, acting as our academic lead on pupil evaluation, will repeat the surveys in 2017 and 2019 in order to measure and compare the impact of the programme over time.