What you should know and what to look out for
As a teacher, it is a significant step to accept the responsibility of managing a group of students while travelling in a foreign country. Just as importantly, you need to ensure the schools (and parents) funds are protected with a reliable and certified school group tour specialist. Before selecting a school group tour specialist, it is in your interest to consider the following:
What accreditation and financial security is offered to protect your group and the school?
Ensure the company is a fully bonded member of the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) and offers full protection to the consumer. Often an associate or aligned member does not offer full protection or the consumer bond they offer falls well short of the accepted industry standard.
Ensure the travel funds paid to the operator (from the school, parents and other parties) is lodged to a separate ‘Client Trust’ bank account which has been established solely for the purpose of protecting you.
Ask the company to provide evidence of both their full TAANZ membership and separate ‘Client Trust’ bank account.
What experience does the company have with managing educational travel and school group tours?
Ensure the company is well established as a school group travel provider and check that it has experience with the destination/s you are considering.
Ask for details of previous school group tours arranged by the company and in particular, any they have arranged to the destination you are considering.
Tour operators often highlight past school tours on their website. Contact these schools to authenticate these claims and ask them for an open and honest appraisal on the performance of the company and personnel they worked with.
How will the tour schedule and content benefit my students?
Ask the company for ways they can provide educational value and enhance the students travel experience.
Ensure they can provide additional learning opportunities if required.
Can the company assist with language lessons at a specialist language school or assist with a workshop to connect your visits with the specific subject?
Are you familiar with the Ministry of Education and MFAT guidelines and policies?
The Ministry of Education and NZ Foreign Affairs and Trade have introduced policies and guidelines for school group travel. All educational institutions need to observe these policies. You should familiarise yourself with these prior to reviewing the planned itinerary.
Many schools have introduced their own school trip policies and guidelines based around the Ministry of Education and MFAT options. Ensure you are familiar with these and in advance of the trip planning stage, discuss your proposal with the schools elected representative who is responsible for this.