The last day before departure involves a lot of running around. For anyone who has ever staffed a school trip, this is not news. The Boxing Academy (as usual) has taken it to the next level though, because to get 17 of our pupils on a plane and to the slopes requires far more than most schools will ever expect to do. In no particular order, these are the things that we have supplied to get this trip off the ground:
1. The entire cost of the trip with the school travel company – flights, coach transfers, accommodation, food, skiing lessons and apres-ski activities in the evening.
2. 17 sets of ski jackets and salopettes, thermal underlayers, gloves, goggles and socks: the full kit for the slopes, all inclusive!
3. Supplementary clothing where lacking: some tracksuit bottoms and jumpers, layers for underneath, shoes for travelling, underwear for some pupils and in one case, luggage to put it all in.
4. 10 passport applications, including the cost of a naturalisation certificate for a ‘Windrush baby’ parent who, while having been granted the right to stay in the UK, had not been issued with a certificate by the Home Office and this was preventing their child receiving a passport.
5. Toiletries, including toothbrushes, for a few pupils.
Our wonderful friends at KitKing and Mountain Warehouse supplied beanie hats and mini-rucksacks, so we are all good to go.
Our preparation this week has included:
• Alpine geography (thank you Mr Pilling)
• Basic French lessons, in Maths (thank you Ms Craig)
• Reading “Touching the Void” in English (Ms Tristham-Brown, who is coming skiing)
• Planning the Art GCSE project using disposable cameras to document their trip (Ms Oakland’s brilliant idea)
While trying on clothes and discussing the journey to Les Deux Alpes it came apparent that some pupils thought we were flying to France to go to an indoor ski centre: if you could have seen their faces when they realised that they are going to the mountains!
However this week, as departure got nearer, the pupils’ behaviour deteriorated markedly. Rather than the typical excitement and silliness one might expect (although there was some of that) we have observed creeping negativity. Some pupils have become argumentative; trying to get themselves in trouble so they might be banned from coming. Others have been irritable, sad, or withdrawn.
When asked why he was so subdued this week, one pupil told me “I don’t expect anything good to happen. It’s like I got used to bad things, and I’m scared that something will go wrong between now and Sunday.” We reassured them, but actually it won’t be real for them until they are on the plane; maybe not until they are on the mountain. Our lovely SENCO did a refresher session on attachment disorders to inform the staff response: address the poor behaviour and then kill them with kindness!
Bags are packed, disposable cameras at the ready, the coach is picking us up in the early hours of Monday morning for the flight to Geneva. Expect equal parts of excitement, joy and terror.