Incursions, Excursions and Battling Boring Classroom Syndrome in a Mixed Age Institution

Essay written by Melissa Smith, Lifelong Learners curriculum developer and owner.

As a teacher I attend a lot of professional development sessions. Some are presented by a school (new policies, new legislation, internal moderation) and some are presented by outside groups (behaviour management strategies, diagnosis management, new course introductions). We also arrange excursions and incursions for students.

An excursion is when you take them out of school grounds while an incursion is when a presenter/organisation comes in to the school grounds and presents information. Excursions are easy right? You get a day off school and the kids learn something so everyone wins? There should be more of them!


In order to arrange an excursion for students lots of things have to be organised before the letter goes home to Mum and Dad.

  • The location needs to have insurance
  • The school needs insurance
  • A licensed bus and bus driver need to be arranged
  • If students are meeting you at the location (as is often the case with year 12s) then the insurance and excursion plan have to reflect this
  • Relief teachers need to be organised
  • A 15+ page excursion plan needs to be filled out and submitted to the school as per DETWA policies
  • A contact number needs to be provided to parents on the day – sometimes the expectation is this will be your own number and sometimes it is a school mobile
  • Someone needs to have first aid training and a first aid kit
  • The permission slip needs to conform to DETWA standards
  • You need to be able to show relevance between the excursion and the curriculum. Clear relevance and clear learning area links!
  • You need a plan for those students who can’t attend as they are not allowed to just have a day off school
  • What about food? Allergies? Healthy eating guidelines? Gone are the days of the maccas run on the way home
  • Don’t even ASK about a water based excursion – the requirements are ten times as bad! With good reason of course. It’s why very few schools go to Adventure World these days – it is simply not possible to get approved

It is no wonder most schools are turning towards incursions. Teachers already have to a lot of work on their plates outside of schools hours and the extra work and follow up for an excursion can just be too much. There is no doubt they are valuable but where do we draw the line between legislative paperwork requirements and a significant reduction in “out of school adventures”?

Speaking from experience – I just had a fantastic incursion from the Constitutional Centre of WA and it took me twenty minutes to organise via email, all the resources were posted to me and it was done during class time where I got to sit at the back and listen to the brilliant speaker cover the 1975 Constitutional Crisis. We have another one next week on the High Court because, again, they are coming out to visit us and fit into the timetable. I find incursions to be an amazing classroom tool, the students were slightly disappointed to not get a “day out” but they get just as much (if not more) educational benefit this way and the experience management is far more manageable for the teacher. There is also the cost to consider – buses, insurance, lunch and venue entry can add up very quickly, not to mention the educational cost of missing another day of classes and potential assessments which causes a lot of anxiety for those in high school.

I am not anti-excursion by any means. I have recently taken Earth Science students to the national park for a geology trip, Politics and Law students to Parliament House in WA and a small group of students on a GIS experience at a local university. These excursions had to be selected with the cohort in mind however and for this particular school, there was no budget and the students were not in a position to pay. Therefore, community funding and local grants had to be sorted out and the time put in was excessive. Many teachers at this school would ask me “why bother?” or “why put so much effort into something so short?”. To motivate students. To engage them. To give them a real world experience they can draw in an exam and relate to. That should be the purpose of all excursions and incursions. Engagement.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 at 9:16 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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