Press Release (ePRNews.com) - CRAWLEY, England - Mar 06, 2017 - Pate’s Grammar School is an outstanding grammar school with academy status, located in the Hesters Way area of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. It caters for 1,100 pupils – 605 boys and 495 girls – aged 11 to 18 and is a Beacon school. Students achieve the highest academic standards whilst also benefitting from broad extra-curricular activities, exceptional pastoral care and first-class facilities. Every other year the school arranges a much loved international rugby tour from Edwin Doran Sports Tours to the southern hemisphere for seniors and one to Ireland for juniors – a job which takes Alex Derbyshire, Maths Teacher and Rugby Tour Manager and the school administrator approximately 1 full working month spread over an 18 month period to complete. A fellow teacher is responsible for organising a hockey trip with a similar itinerary for the girls. Here Alex talks about the significant educational benefits such tours present, the organisational and workload challenges he faces, and the time he and the school administrator now save using Toolkit, his new personal online trip portal from Travelopia…
I joined the school in 2008 as a Teacher of Mathematics and was soon appointed Tour Manager responsible for the coordination of the school’s international rugby tour for seniors and a trip to Ireland for juniors during October half term.
As a lover of sport and a keen rugby fan I seized the opportunity and organised the school’s first junior rugby tour to Ireland in 2010 and the first international rugby tour in 2014. In addition to matches with competitor schools, the itinerary for the international rugby tour included a number of cultural experiences to show students a different side to the world. Each trip takes me roughly one full month over an 18-month period to complete, and at times puts me under considerable pressure, increasing my workload significantly.
As far as I’m concerned though, all this hard work is priceless because it gives our students the opportunity to broaden their minds and gain character traits such as persistence, resilience, self discipline and the ability to work with and show consideration for others. This is absolutely crucial to preparing young people for success at school and in their adult life in the working world.
In fact, our last tour to South Africa – which incorporated a visit to The Goedgedacht Trust, a charity providing real solutions to tackle poverty amongst rural children and youth – had such an impact on three of our students that on their return to England they independently organised and completed a charity cycle ride. This raised £1,500 and is a stunning illustration of the social responsibility duties such trips provoke in our students.
Much as I loved planning such events, balancing it with my demanding role as a Teacher of Mathematics, it eventually took its toll. So when Travelopia approached me to trial its new personal online trip portal (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUs9Qy7G3Mc), I was the first to put up my hand.
Designed to take the stress out of organising a school trip, Toolkit from Travelopia is a personal online trip portal that can be used to change a quote from Edwin Doran Sports Tours (http://www.edwindoran.com/) and its sister companies1 into a school’s very own interactive tour website, accessible by staff and parents at the click of the button from any device.
The first digital school trip management system of its kind, Toolkit allows me to dispense with the time-consuming task of preparing and mailing out numerous letters home and to personalise our trip, upload photos, videos, itineraries and contingencies for extras such as meals and activities. Parents can register their interest using a simple online form, upload their child’s dietary requirements and passport information, significantly reducing the time spent by our school administrator entering data.
It also allows me to determine access options for staff – including the head, the bursar, PE staff and our school administrator – spreading the workload and ensuring that at any one time the relevant parties can obtain a clear and accurate view of progress and payments. An email function contained within the site allows finance staff to send payment reminders to parents. And a two- stage verification process ensures that all data is safe.
I’m currently organising the school’s South Africa Rugby Tour 2018 from Edwin Doran Sports Tours – a 14 night stint for 40 boys in Gauteng and Western Cape with four rugby matches for each of our school’s A and B teams, various sightseeing tours and four days’ charity work at The Goedgebacht Trust. Our new Toolkit online digital tour management platform has simplified the process significantly and, based on the initial reduction in workload at the organisational stage, will save us an estimated 75% of time formerly spent updating data, chasing students, tracking payments and updating parents.
When we first presented the new portal to parents they sighed with relief, pleased to learn that they would no longer have to rely on their children to be the rather unreliable vehicle of communication for letters home from the school. They were also happy to learn that they could now directly input dietary and passport data, track their instalments and in future receive regular updates on their child whilst they are away.
1. Toolkit can be used to convert quotes from Edwin Doran Sports Tours Gulliver’s Sports Travel, Teamlink Sports Tours, Travelbound, Masterclass Sports Tours, HTS Total Ski, JCA and SkiBound