The Definitive Guide to School Tours & Workshops in Ireland [2020]

This is the most comprehensive guide to School Tours, Trips and Workshops you will find for Ireland (North & South).

With so many moving parts to organising a school tour or workshop, and particularly if it's your first time in doing so, it can be a daunting undertaking.

Spending a few minutes reading this guide will help you get a grip on what needs your attention.

So my challenge to you is this: read THE DEFINTIVE GUIDE and tell me that you are not completely prepared for organising a successful school tour, trip or workshop!

Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now?

No worries. Let me send you a copy so you can read it when it’s convenient for you. Just let me know where to send it (takes 5 seconds):

CHAPTER 1: Why Organise a Tour?

A school tour or workshop can be the highlight of student’s year in school.

There are many benefits to bringing students on a tour or organising an in-school workshop.

Trips and workshops can be an essential mental break from the rigorous intellectual routine of a regular school day.

As teachers we often strive to enhance our students learning and a school tour or workshop can be a very effective way of achieving this. It also can help to improve our students’ behaviour because it can be used as a reward for working well in class or for completing homework tasks.

A field trip can be an integral part of a subject particularly during secondary school studies. It can also be a great social and bonding experience for students. School trips in Ireland that involve overnight stays can give students time to get to know each other outside of the school environment and to build their own independence.

Teachers themselves can gain a great deal from the school trip experience by - building better working relationships with their students - earning appreciation from school management and parents - achieving higher rates of class participation & homework completion

The next question then is where do you intend to bring your school group on tour, or do you indeed host an in-school workshop? A school educational tour could focus on an aspect of Irish history. For example you might like to visit an Irish Emigrtion Museum such as EPIC. The next chapter will explore this in more detail.

CHAPTER 2: Where to Organise a School Tour or Workshop?

Depending on your requirements you have the choice of:

  1. In-school workshop
  2. Local Tour
  3. Regional Tour
  4. National Tour
  5. International Trip

Once you’ve considered all the reasons or motivations to bringing your students on an educational tour, the next step will be to come up with school tour ideas - where to bring your students or what to bring to the school?

You have several options here. A school tour can be kept local to help reduce transport costs. Indeed, a school tour can be undertaken on foot, and there is no need to hire a bus, in turn reducing costs. You could look at options within your own region or county. You might want to bring your students further afield and bring them to a history centre (e.g. Glasnevin Cemetery), particular national site (e.g. School Tour Dublin Zoo) or attraction (e.g. School Tour Tayto Park) that isn’t in the school’s locality. The option to bring students on a school trip overseas is also a possibility. Many students around Ireland go on a school tour in French by visiting Paris each year.

The alternative to going on a school tour is to have an educational workshop provider come to the school. There are lots of fantastic options to choose from including workshops based on Crime Scene Investigation (CSI The Experience) or adventure board games (Develop Me). is the most comprehensive resource to find school tours in Ireland or to explore school workshop options. It is good practice to keep an eye out for school trip brochures that providers send by post. School tour destinations can come and go so you should keep an eye out. The best school tour ideas in Ireland and school trip locations can come from your own students. So don’t be afraid to ask them where they would like to go. Asking a colleague is also a good tactic to see if they know of school field trip ideas. You never know what might crop up in such a conversation. The next step will be to figure out when to plan all this.

CHAPTER 3: When to Go on a School Tour or Organise a Workshop?

Best time of year for outdoor trip:

May / June / Sept

Best time for indoor workshop:

Oct / Nov / Feb / March

The time of the year that you are planning your school trip can be of significant importance. The school trip experience can be enhanced by having good weather which can be difficult to predict in Ireland. However, the most popular months for outdoor activities are before the summer holidays in May and June.

September can also be a good month to plan a school trip. It can get the school year off to a nice start and help your students bond with some physical education. This is a particular favourite with transition year coordinators and language schools, bringing their students on an overnight school trip to an outdoor adventure centre at the beginning of the academic year.

A school trip can be a seasonal event also. A school might decide to bring their students ice skating or to Christmas markets. This is a really nice treat for students and something that they might never have tried before.

Organising an in-school workshop or speaker can be a great idea during the winter months as they are not dependant on weather (unless it snows - then sure everything in Ireland might shut down!). Alternatively, there are many indoor activity centres that are perfect in winter or summer as they are not dependant on the Irish weather. It’s important to keep in mind when planning a school tour or workshop that it doesn’t clash with other school events. You should always check with school management to see if the dates that you are considering are appropriate for the school. You’d be surprised how often this simple mistake is made.

The timing of planning your school field trip can be determined by what stage your students are at in their course of learning. You might have to wait until they arrive at a certain point before you can proceed with the school field trip. It might be perfect timing to bring your students to the GPO witness history or the Glasnevin cemetery museum if you have just covered 1916 in history.

CHAPTER 4: The Cost of Tours & Educational Activities

There are three main ways to approach the costs of a school tour:

  1. Look for Free options (search OPW in the search bar)
  2. Browse for affordable options by taking note of fees detailed on Cliste listings
  3. Fundraise to help pay for all or some of the costs associated with the school tour

The cost can vary widely for in terms of school tour packages. The entrance cost to a site, attraction or activity can be very different. It is worth noting that tourist attractions which are operated in Ireland by the OPW (The Office of Public Works) are free of charge for student when accompanied by teachers. The only condition is that you pre-book your trip or school visit.

There are many affordable school tour places in Ireland. This depends on the activities, but in my experience prices can start at €4 or €5 for entrance to a pet farm or nature activties for primary school students and can go all the way up to €50 for driving lesson days for secondary school students. Stadium tours (e.g. Croke Park - GAA Museum) are a popular option and are quite affordable.

A large chunk of the expenditure can be the cost of bus hire and travel companies. Obviously the longer the journey the greater the cost will be. If public transport is an option, then this can help reduce costs. A great solution for transition year is to have students meet their teachers at the school trip location if possible. This can dramatically reduce costs during the year and promotes independence in the students.

The costs of a school trip can be offset by doing some fundraising. A cake sale is a good example of a school trip fundraising idea. Learning how to fundraise can be a great character builder for students while good for their applied maths as well.

Going on overseas tours can cost in excess of €500 (e.g. trip to Paris or Lake Garda) and this can be a very big ask for parents. Student themselves can look to fundraise independently and complete odd jobs thus enabling them to go on the trip. There are some great ideas just follow these useful links:

Ideally when you are planning a tour, the school administration staff would help with this. You might have an online payments system available and this could be the most effective way to collect the school tour payment. When the amounts that are required to be paid are small (say under €10) then it might be easier to collect it in cash. Do be careful and make sure to keep a record of cash received from pupils and to store the collected cash ideally in a safe or at the very least in a locked location in the school. Each school should have its own systems in place when dealing with school tour payments so do get to know what needs to be done in your own school.

It can happen that you will need to cancel the school tour because of unforeseen circumstances. It is best to find out what a tour provider or workshop provider’s cancellation policy is and what the booking conditions are. It is best to know in advance what the commitments are. You might need to refund your students money if it has already been paid. Sometimes there might be a non-refundable deposit so this will be lost depending on the circumstances. Giving money back to students needs also to be communicated with parents. Remember that!

CHAPTER 5: How to Organise School Tour or Trip

These are really the only tools needed to plan a successful school trip:

  • School Tour Policy
  • Teacher Checklist

With these tools you’ll be sure to succeed.

It can be a daunting task the undertaking of planning a school trip. Using a school trip checklist or trip planner can help you manage all the steps needed to organise a successful trip. Even though all of us have been on tours as student ourselves, it is a totally different experience trying to organise one yourself. There are a few school trip hacks that you can learn to help save time and effort. Using the following checklist is one!

School Trip Checklist for Teachers

Before Going on Tour

  • Read school tour/trip policy
  • Research tour or workshop options
  • Get a quote for tour or workshop
  • Consult other teachers in your school if they are going to be part of the tour group
  • Ask school management for approval to book tour (usually the principal)
  • Inform venue or provider that you are proceeding with booking or book tickets
  • Book transport if required
  • Send letter home to parents for their permission with information about trip
  • Collect money for trip by a specified date
  • Ask accompanying teachers as required to come on trip (depends on school ratio numbers)
  • Make arrangements that are need for students with additional needs
  • Provide students with checklist of items to bring on tour (especially clothing & food)
  • Print off class lists for each accompanying teacher
  • Bring school issued phone if possible (important for overnight or residential school trips)
  • Print off worksheet if required
  • Leave work for students (in case you will be missing lessons)

On Day of Trip

  • Take roll before leaving school
  • Remind students to check they have their medications if required
  • Bring First Aid Kit
  • Remind students of your code of positive behaviour
  • Payment for tour
  • Take pictures or videos of the day
  • Buy a museum gift

After Trip

  • Send thank you note to provider
  • Compile video/newsletter/website update of tour or workshop
  • Have a day off for all your hard work!
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CHAPTER 6: School Tour Policy

Each school should have a school tour policy in place. It’s the starting point when it comes to how a school approaches the organising of school tours and what the school trip guidelines are.

If your school does not have a school tour policy in place it might be a good idea to start a conversation around introducing one.

The Dept. of Education has two circulars in place for school tours in Ireland. It would appear that the primary school circular of 1979 (DES Circular 12/’79) is only available in hard copy. It stipulates quite broad objectives when it comes to the planning of school tours.

In relation to secondary school tours both inside Ireland and overseas there is a more recent circular (DES Circular M20/04). It again is quite broad when it comes to school tours.

The department circulars are the starting point for any policy. You need to read your own school’s policy which will detail what is permissible and what approaches are acceptable. It should also be noted within the policy what measures can be taken in relation to poor behaviour on a school tour.

The school tour policy is a support, so you should familiarise yourself with it well before planning or going on the tour. Normally school trip rules will be in addition to any normal school rules that are in place for your school. If you find that the school trip rules and regulations are a bit long and complicated just remember that they are there to protect the teacher in case of any mishaps.

When organising in-school workshops or speakers, then the only real detail that needs to be kept in mind is the school’s child protection guidelines. A school teacher must always be present when an outside facilitator comes to the school.

CHAPTER 7: Transport

There are a few options when it comes to transport while organising a school tour. It is obvious that the location of the school tour will dictate how you are going to get there.

  • By foot
  • By parental lifts
  • By public transport (bus/train)
  • By school bus
  • By private coach hire
  • By airplane

If at all possible go on a school trip that is within walking distance of the school. This can be excellent in many ways. Students get much needed exercise, it’s better for the environment and best of all it’s free!

Parents can be a great resource when it comes to additional help with lifts (and sometimes even grand parents whom are enjoying their active retirement). You would need to check with school management concerning this and what is allowable under child protection guidelines.

Public transport can be a very affordable option for getting around with students.Iarnrod Eireann do a super deal on school tours. Have a look at their website.

Some teachers can be lucky enough to have access to their own school bus. Obviously, this is a real advantage when it comes to school tours. Do check though with management that the bus is available for the date that you are looking for.

How to book a bus? Private coach hire is the most used method of transport for school tours. It offers the greatest flexibility and comfort. You arrange to meet your students at a pickup point (usually the school) and you have a drop-off at the end of the day. When you are going to book a private coach for your tour it is best to check with the school administrative staff as to the process of booking a bus. This task can sometimes be left up to you the teacher or it can be the responsibility of the administrative staff to make the booking on your behalf. The school will typically have a company that they rely on to bring students on school trips or on school sporting events so be sure to find out who that is. If not, then you can easily find lots of options by googling “school tour bus hire Dublin”, for example.

If you are going on an overseas school trip, then it may very well be by airplane that you will be travelling. Normally the tour company that you are planning the trip with will book these flights for you. Just bear in mind that when travelling with students abroad and if they are under the age of 16, you need to have a parental consent form signed for each student. This gives you, as their teacher, the permission to travel with them. You are then consider in “loco parentis”.

CHAPTER 8: Insurance & First Aid

School students are in general covered by the regular school insurance when they are on a school tour or trip within Ireland.

You should always check with management to ensure that this is the case, however.

A school trip risk assessment should be undertaken if students are being taken on a tour where there is active, or adventure activities involved. Consider if there are any busy roads that students might need to cross while on the tour. Can these be avoided? And if not, then have the students been made aware of the dangers. Consider other risks that might arise and put a plan in place to mitigate against their potential impact on the school trip.

It is always possible that a student can fall ill on a school tour. To help in circumstances like this it is advisable that one of the accompanying teachers or staff are first aid trained. In the absence of such skills, then a contact that can be rung on a tour might be a good idea. It is important to know which of the students in a school tour group have certain conditions that could affect them while on a trip. Such conditions might require the administration of medication and you might want to ensure that they have it in their possession before you leave.

When you are going on a school tour overseas it is important to consider travel insurance as advised by the school tour company or to seek advice in relation to same from the school’s own insurance company. In any case, when going away on an overnight trip, it’s advisable to have all students complete a medical form. Here’s an example of a medical consent form from an Irish secondary school.

The European Medical Card or the E111 card is also advisable when travelling overseas for the health and safety of your tour group. Students should be encouraged to have this in place as a pre-requisite to travelling. It ensures that your students can access the same standard of health care as if they were in Ireland.

CHAPTER 9: Getting Support

Don’t be afraid to ask for support when organising a school tour. This includes:

  • Accompanying teachers
  • Experienced Teachers
  • School Management
  • Parents

You will need one school tour leader. This person will take the overall responsibility for organising the tour and will be the go-to person when and if school tour questions need to be answered. Depending on the size of the group you might need several accompanying teachers to help facilitate the tour. It is up to the leader to delegate some of the tasks in the organising of the school trip. You could ask an accompanying teacher for example, to look after the school tour bus hire. This will be one less thing you need to worry about as school tour group leader.

You might want to ask advice from other teachers in your school who have previously taken a group of students on a particular trip. They might be able to point you in the right direction and give you some hints and tips on what to enjoy and what to avoid.

Finally, parents can be a great source of help when it comes to some tasks. They can help on the day with the running of the tour itself or they could help organise a fundraising event to help pay for the tour. Ask the parents council in your school for help if you feel that you need it.

CHAPTER 10: Communication

The communication of plans of a school tour is a key component to its success. The following are the methods you might come to use:

  • In-school announcement
  • Email
  • Letter
  • Text message

You need to communicate effectively with all the stakeholders. This can be done by an in-school announcement, email, text message or letter home. You should probably use a mixture of these. The first step is usually this. A letter will be send home to parents to inform them of an upcoming tour. Give details of the timing, cost and education purpose. Students will be informed at the same time as this letter is sent home. It never takes long for the news of a trip to permeate amongst the students but it’s important that they have all the details correct.

The letter home to parents should include a school trip permission slip that the parents sign and return to the school along with the appropriate fee if applicable. A reminder text message sent to parents can help to boost the speed with which the letters are returned, and the fee is paid. Email can be an effective way to communicate to parents also if this is an option. Other teachers in the school should also be notified of the upcoming tour. (This allows them to prepare for students being absent from school in the case of secondary schools.)

School management should be kept abreast of all the developments along the way of the preparation. They might need to plan for the trip and move some things around and the better they are informed; the smoother things will run.

It can happen sometimes that the school trip might need to be cancelled. Another letter home to inform the parents and guardians of the cancellation is a good idea. You can inform them of a new date if that is know or give an explanation as to why the trip is no longer going ahead.

CHAPTER 11: Supplies & Essentials

It’s important to provide students with some information around what they might need to bring on your on the tour. Here’s the shortlist:

  • Provide a packing list
  • Suggest what food to bring
  • Clothes to wear
  • Money to bring

It can be difficult to remember what supplies and equipment might be needed for a trip. A packing list can be a useful resource to share with your students. It can be a simple enough list of the 10 most important items that students need, to go on the trip. Here are some examples:

  • Use a lightweight bag to pack your items in
  • Write your name and phone number on your bag in case it gets lost
  • What stationary or books do you need to bring?
  • Pack your lunch into bag
  • Bring your mobile phone if you are allowed
  • Additional clothes to bring in case of bad/good weather
  • Bring a book to read on the bus/train
  • Bring some spending money

A nice complete guide to a packing list can be viewed here on Wikihow. For overnight and overseas trips, the packing lists need to be a lot more extensive. You can use the following school trips essentials list on Wikihow as a template for your students.

You can also suggest to students what they might bring for their lunch. It’s important that they eat good wholesome food on a school trip to avoid running out of energy or feeling unwell. You might extend the school’s healthy eating policy to the tour. In some cases like a trip to Tayto Park, food can be paid for in advance and students will eat in the restaurant there. It is still a good idea to bring a snack on a tour to enjoy. Here are some suggestions on school lunch ideas for a school tour.

CHAPTER 12: Engagement & Enjoyment

The more you can engage your students on your tour the better their enjoyment will be. Use some of the following to achieve this.

  • Complete a survey
  • Go on a virtual tour beforehand
  • Worksheet for the tour
  • Complete a journal entry
  • Take a quiz
  • Participate in a game

See the following solutions which will help with student engagement on a school tour or field trip:

  1. Complete a survey form in advance - a range of research questions to undertake before trip completed by students on a Google form or Microsoft form.
  2. Virtual Tour – completed in advance by the student to familiarise themselves with the location
  3. Worksheets and student resources (possibly available in advance and designed by the venue themselves)
  4. Journal – this can be a written activity that the students need to complete afterwards
  5. A Quiz – this could be completed during a quiet time after some learning has taken place
  6. Game – scavenger hunt could be arranged at the school tour venue
  7. Essay – this is a popular homework task to give to students, writing a summary of their trip

To benefit fully from any educational tour your students should prepare for the trip through doing some form of research or exercise. By doing this the students themselves will appreciate the trip much more. Then, while on the trip, students need to be given activities to complete.

A worksheet is a very viable option. Students can be broken into small groups and work together to elicit information. Venues such as the National History Museum have worksheets ready for download so your work as a teacher is reduced. Students can be rewarded with prizes for the best efforts etc. Having the students engaged will help to reduce problems with behavioural issues and the tour will be better as a result. You could delegate this task of organising the student engagement piece to one of your supporting teachers.

CHAPTER 13: Tone & Mood

Creating an exciting mood and setting the right tone are key. Here’s some suggestions:

  • Involve anxious students
  • Create a music playlist
  • Reinforce rules and guidelines

Some students might need a little extra support and pastoral care when it comes to going on a school tour. If going away for the day is something out of the student’s comfort zone, they might indeed become quite anxious. To help reduce this you can try and involve this student in the organising of the trip.

Give them some little task to do even if it’s as simple as stapling the worksheets together. This will help give them some ownership over the trip. You could even suggest that they put together a playlist of music for the bus. This way they will have some familiarity on the journey. It’s important to link in with any supports in your school also, as they might be able to provide you with additional knowledge about a particular student and what might work well on a trip for them. It would be expected though that a student that has significant anxiety issues might have an SNA or parent travel with them. You as the school tour group team lead can’t be focused on one individual student when you are responsible for possibly dozens. So, look for help in this regard.

Being clear and concise about rules and guidelines is an important factor in setting the tone and mood for the tour. You should take time to explain what the expected good behaviour of your students is. If you are travelling a distance and are using a private coach it can be possible to have some music played by the bus driver. This might not always be the case, but a school tour playlist could be put together on Spotify – here’s an example.

CHAPTER 14: School Trip News & Updates

It’s a good idea to broadcast your school tour on different channels including:

  • School's social media accounts
  • Text messages (WhatsApp)
  • Email

It can be important to keep stakeholders up-to-date on happenings while you are on your school tour. A good way to do this is by setting up a WhatsApp group of concerned stakeholders. In order to communicate with the wider school community, you could use the school’s Twitter or Facebook accounts. Just make sure that, if you are posting images of your students, that you have their permission and it is signed off by their parents in advance. (Watch out for GDPR and Child Protection guidelines).

If you allow your students to have their phones on them, then you might encourage them to send a message home to parents to inform them of how they are getting on themselves. Parents do like to hear how things are going on school tours.

CHAPTER 15: Media - Photo & Video

Capturing and recording the school trip or workshop is a must and the following are the possibilities:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Student quotes
  • Examples of student work

It’s a real treat to have a good selection of photos and videos after a successful school outing. When it comes to GDPR it important that you use a school device to capture school tour moments. It’s also important to have the permission of the students to take their pictures signed off by their parents.

A good stock of pictures and videos can be used in the next school newsletter or published to the school website or social media channels. You can put together a school trip film with the content. You can put a good student in charge of taking the photos. Or you can make a competition out of it if the students have their own devices. They can take pictures and share them with you at the end.

The school trip photos can make for a great record of adventurous and fun times for students at school. They are great promotional material for schools too (and could even feature in the Irish news)! To compliment all of this, you should try and get a short quote from all of the student in the school tour group. These are good to have for a video.

All of this will help create and preserve the school trip memories and will help you as their teacher and leader get more recognition for the work that you have undertaken to bring the students away. These photos and videos can be used for the student graduation before the leaving certificate.

CHAPTER 16: Reports

Documenting your trip is not always a necessity but it can be a good habit to get into. Reports can be tailored for the following audiences:

  • School management
  • School board of management
  • Parent's council
  • Local newspapers

The last piece of the jigsaw is the report writing of a trip. This is an important activity to undertake and should be shared with the student council, the school management including the board of management and parents’ council. It does not have to be overly detailed. A short paragraph can be sufficient. In it you should include where you went, the cohort of students that were brought, the educational benefits from the trip and a thank you to all of the stakeholders that helped you, the tour leader, in the organisation and running of the school tour. (You can send it on to the press council also if you school has one.)

Finally, a thank you card is a very nice way to show your appreciation for the venue or people that facilitated your trip. It builds your relationships with them for future tours and helps to build the reputation of your own school. You could get all the students to sign it or even make it in art class.

CHAPTER 17: Conclusion

The key to a successful tour, trip or workshop?

  • Get planning
  • Be familiar with school tour policy
  • Ask for help!
  • Good communication
  • Document and capture

Organising a school trip or workshop can be a big undertaking. It requires a good deal of planning. It’s important to consider first and foremost your own school’s tour policy. You can then start to consider the different options available bearing in mind what the learning outcomes from the activity are going to be and the budget that can afforded by students.

Make sure to look for help from your colleagues and give them some tasks to complete in preparation for the tour or trip. Communication is key with all your stakeholders including the students, school management and parents. Try and document your activity as well as possible by taking photos or videos. These are great to have for the promotion of the school and students will be delighted to look back on the memories in years to come. Finally, don’t forget to write your report after the completion of your trip, tour or workshop and to take a well-earned break!

Meet the Team - About The Author

Having built up as the one-stop-shop for finding school tours and workshop in Ireland I can appreciate that it can be hard to know where to start when planning an activity for students. Its one thing choosing an activity - it’s a totally different thing planning it. What are the correct stages to go through along this journey and what are the pitfalls to avoid? Having organised for hundreds of my own students, over the past decade, multiple local, national and international trips & workshops, I believe my experience is invaluable. I too myself have travelled extensively over the years and I understand what good planning for trips should look like. This DEFINTIVE GUIDE will be a useful resource for both primary and secondary school teachers in Ireland. It will be of particular interest to teachers who have not previously organised a trip or indeed teachers that want to refresh their knowledge and improve your experience of organising these types of trips.