4 NOVEMBER 1972, Page 35


Out of school

Carol Wright

The first and only school party holiday I went on was strictly educational. Paris and a series of lectures at the Sorbonne on French literature — and in the Easter holidays. Only those studying A level French were eligible to join groups from Other schools, including boys' schools to our secluded, segregated joy.

It was love of Paris and fascination With French things that I learnt on that visit, rather than any improvements in my knowledge of Hugo, Balzac and Voltaire, that aided my concentration on French lessons. Now when travel is less prized by the young, when it is all so much easier and commonplace I wonder if the same impressions occur, if there is the same spur to education. Certainly there is no lack of opportunity. Several firms like Overseas Travel for Schools, School Travel Service, Youth Hostels Association, Erna Low Travel Service, European College Tours, Galleon Holidays, and Educational Travel (the latter a non profit making association of teachers) and others Produce large brochures devoted to school groups. And if the teacher or parent lacks Inspiration, the large package tour firms like Horizon will be happy to arrange a

group fare with free tour leader to any of their destinations.

Many of the school group tours are straight visits to countries such as Austria, France, Belgium, Yugoslavia and Spain, the latter from £28. The big bargains for 1973 are America and Canada with Overseas Travel for Schools offering the USA for under £45. Cheapest return fares are Canada £31.10 and America £36.30 from London, less from Glasgow. Russia on the other hand, though obviously desirable from an educational point of view, is going to set a parent back £81; Galleon's kibbutz working holiday in Israel will cost £130.

But there are also increasingly tours where the child is given some extra educational course as well as the touring. As skiing tours take place mostly in term time because the winter holiday period is a peak public ski time, School Travel Services offer environmental studies of the Alps along with skiing and also French tuition in Champery. The same company in summer run geological field study courses in Switzerland, Yugoslavia and the Rhineland and in the UK at places like Giggleswick, Keswick, Whitby and Swanage. French language courses are run at Narbonne and general studies in French life are based in Rheims. On the field study courses, each child produces a manual of his studies and a prize of £25 is given for the best each year. Educational Travel has a series of language courses, geographical field classes and independent study tours.

The Youth Hostels Association in addition to a programme of adventure holidays in Britain for groups such as a week's walking for £10, pony trekking, canoe or canal cruising, sailing, photography or mountain craft, has a selection of twenty-two hostels in Britain which have special classroom facilities for field study work. Here children and students can have non-membership all-in daily accommodation, hire of sleeping bags, and meals for £1.40 or £1.55 at Slimbridge where the Wildfowl Trust centre is included. At the other hostels, only school children in parties have non-membership rights.

The Youth Hostels Travel side also organises youth groups abroad in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Holland, Switzerland and Spain. In Luxembourg, which costs £125 for eleven days, there's plenty of variety in scenery and good outdoor sports facilities in this little country. The treasures of Italy can be viewed for £41.75 on a thirteen day tour.

A much wider selection of places can be seen on a cruise and British India line have for several years been successfully running educational cruises on three of their ships which are fitted with classrooms and dormitory accommodation as well as some first class normal cruise facilities for individual adults. For the parent who wants to find a suitable holiday for a child on its own during the holidays, the British Tourist Authority issues a useful leaflet 'Holidays for Unaccompanied Young People' which lists addresses and descriptions of different kinds of holidays available in Britain such as sailing, children's holiday homes, adventure centres and sports holidays.