We took our online school offline and out for a jam-packed London adventure on Saturday 4th December, celebrating our first official school-wide in-person meet-up!
Minerva’s Virtual Academy has always planned to organise in person meet ups, a chance to come together to firm up friendships and have a great day out.
One such event was our end-of-term school trip, which this December involved an awesome day out in London where our students journeyed around the Science Museum, played some high-tech minigolf and explored some key historical monuments with a walking tour that took in HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge and the Monument.
It was such a joy to get to meet our students in-person and to see them solidify friendships with their peers and across year groups – friendships fostered in our school-wide assemblies and unique academic initiatives like the cross-curricular World Changers Programme.
Below is a run-down of our big day out, summarising the fun and academic forays of the 2021 Christmas in-person meet-up.
The Christmas School Trip: Our Itinerary
|10:30AM||Science Museum: Main Entrance||Parents’ Drop-Off and chance for parents and pupils to meet and chat|
|11:00AM||Science Museum||Minerva Virtual Academy’s Special Scavenger Hunt: a structured romp in teams around the museum, interacting with exhibits and racing against the clock|
|1:00PM||Museum Cafe||Lunch and time to chill|
|2:00PM||London Underground||Train ride across town and some time to chat and hang out|
|2:45PM||Puttshack Mini-Golf||High-Tech Mini-Golf game (with some loose lessons about physics along the way!)|
|3:30PM||Monument, HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge, Royal Exchange||A guided walking tour along the river and via some of London’s key historical monuments|
|4:30PM||Monument||Parents’ Pick-Up and farewells, till next time!|
What Happened: Breakdown of the Big Day
Seeing everyone fall right into step with each other was a real treat, with students coming down from Leeds and up from Somerset to be with us for the day. Everyone slotted straight in, with smiles, laughter and a great social atmosphere from the off.
It was such a pleasure to gather at the beginning of our London excursion outside the Science Museum and meet all the parents and students we’ve had such fun working with across the school term.
Students accessed our specially designed Science Scavenger Hunt – devised by Jack, our Deputy Head and Chemistry expert – via a special QR code, which took them around the Science Museum in groups on a bespoke action-packed learning adventure. There were riddles, treasure hunts, brain-teasing questions and Christmassy quizzes aplenty, designed to get the kids learning in a fun and festive way. The time limit encouraged students to work together and solve the puzzles in teams against the clock.
After a nice lunch and a further opportunity to consolidate friendships, we whizzed across the city on the tube to Puttshack, a high-tech, neon-infused mini-golf spot which saw students tap, ping, swing and putt their way to golfing glory, with a few sneaky physics lessons involved along the way. The tech prowess of Puttshack ensures you don’t need any particular golfing nous to have fun: with computer systems that register your ball and the shots you’ve taken, you get swept along with plenty of opportunities to teambuild and celebrate.
Then it was time for some fresh air in the form of a historical walking tour that took in some of London’s most important historical monuments. Headmaster Lawrence Tubb and Deputy Head Jack showed off the city in style – for some students, it was their first time in London!
Some of the pupils on the trip also had other fish to fry that day: from musical theatre and orchestra performances to big sports matches, several students left us early to go and represent Minerva’s Virtual Academy in diverse areas around the city, which made us particularly proud!
After our walking tour it was time to wind the day down, and parents came to collect students back at the Monument, where there was a final opportunity to chat, consolidate and make plans for the future.
Our First In-Person School Trip: The Outcomes / What We Learned
It was really heartening to see that, in fact, all the work everyone had done together across the term made it feel like we were meeting up with old friends: testimony to the fact the pastoral and peer relationships established online really do yield a strong sense of community.
Witnessing the different dynamics between the year groups helped us see too how important it is for Years like the 10s and 11s to have opportunities to socialise and let off steam amid exam stresses and pressures, and we were able to take stock of our pastoral care and take some things forward with us into next terms teaching, too.
We had some lovely feedback from parents and pupils, which points toward the importance of these social events, and gives us great impetus to pack the calendar with fun and educational excursions in the future.
“I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you, Jack and all the staff who were involved in arranging such a super day out for the Minerva pupils on Saturday. Elizabeth really enjoyed her day and time with you all and is very much looking forward to the next one!”
“Huge thank you for yesterday’s smashing success, for giving us your Saturday and for all the work you and the team put in the run-up to such a perfect day. There has been a lot of action since then on their WhatsApp groups and gaming playdates…. All the children keep saying how much they would like yesterday to happen every Saturday. That says it all. We are immensely grateful for all the magic you have delivered to us throughout this first, triumphant term.”
What’s Next on the Minerva Social Calendar?
There are plans in the pipeline for at least three school trips next term.
We’re aiming for one educational excursion, one concert opportunity and one purely for fun!
Watch this space: more details announced very soon.