My daughter recently received Charlie and Lola’s ‘We Completely Must Go To London’ in which the pair go on a school trip around the capital. A great idea in principle but, as will become clear, the stress of the job has finally got to their teacher: Mrs Hanson, resulting in some kind of nervous breakdown.
Her forethought and planning are practically non-existent and, since both Charlie (7) and Lola (5) are there, we can assume it’s at least two different year groups on the trip. That’s potentially 60 children in her care, while she loses her marbles and puts their lives at risk.
To cut a short story shorter, Mrs Hanson drags the small children to Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Greenwich Royal Observatory, the Natural History Museum and the London Eye. You may have noticed that’s quite an itinerary for anyone, let alone a school trip.
When I was Charlie’s age, we went on a visit to the Tower of London and that was sufficient for the day. We didn’t need to go anywhere else. Are you listening, Mrs Hanson?
The trip’s logistics are perhaps the day’s most baffling aspect. Starting at Big Ben (I’m not going to ask how they got there, as there’s nowhere convenient to unload a coach in Parliament Square. I’m assuming Mrs Hanson just told parents to dump their kids there and hope for the best) and then Buckingham Palace, they immediately head out of the city centre to the Tower of London but instantly return to the heart of the capital, with a visit to the Portrait Gallery. According to Google, that’s a round trip of 6.6 miles, including 54 minutes on the tube.
It would have made more sense to go to straight to the Portrait Gallery after palace, as it’s just a short walk down The Mall. Have you heard of planning, Mrs Hanson?
Next, Mrs Hanson subjects the kids to an 89 minute riverboat journey to Greenwich. Instead of ending the trip there, with the wealth of other attractions in Greenwich, Mrs Hanson insists the children then take a 55 minute tube journey across London (including a mile walk) to the Natural History Museum.
What was she thinking? It’s here, exhausted and delirious, that Charlie gets lost in the dinosaur gallery.
I recently went to the Natural History Museum and managed to lose one of my friends when all he was trying to do was use the lift. He’s a grown man. Imagine how lost a small boy could get while hallucinating he’s riding a pterodactyl. I’m beginning to think that Mrs Hanson didn’t even do a risk assessment for this ridiculous charade.
Before you even consider time at each attraction, this trip – for Reception and Year 2 children – involves just under four hours of travel, covers 27 miles and includes a train, five tubes, a riverboat and 5.1 miles on foot.
What concerns me most (aside from obvious child welfare issues) is Mrs Hanson’s appalling planning. What was the learning objective? It makes absolutely no sense. Admittedly, there are a few links to our royal heritage but then why dilute them with a trip to the dinosaurs? I suppose the idea might have been to study London’s integrated public transport system first hand but, if that’s the case, just go to the London Transport Museum. It’s quite well covered there.
Dad in the Mancave
Moans from the Mancave: Charlie and Lola Completely Must Go To London originally appeared in issue 170 of LINK magazine. Dad in the Mancave is a part-time teacher in Sheffield and full time dad.
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