Getting a good education is not only about reading, writing and arithmetic - it is also about giving children opportunities to have the range of experiences that life has to offer.
Our latest Journey Makers story spotlights staff from two rural primary schools who have worked with Dorset Community Transport to arrange a vast array of enriching activities and trips for their pupils - from weekly swimming lessons to dinosaur museums…
We all know that extracurricular activities are a fundamental part of a fantastic education, but for rural schools, accessing these off-site can be very challenging. With the help of Dorset Community Transport (DCT), two small village primary schools in rural Dorset are showcasing what is possible if safe, affordable transport is available.
At Spetisbury CE Primary School, pupils are taken for regular swimming lessons, choir rehearsals at other schools, special science and maths activities, and more. These outings are made possible thanks to the school’s dedicated staff, as well as the partnership they have built with DCT which facilitates all of these journeys.
“DCT’s drivers have taken children in the green minibuses to golfing festivals at Milton Abbey and tag rugby festivals in Bournemouth,” says Shulay Erim, Support Services Manager at Spetisbury Primary. “And last Christmas, DCT very kindly didn’t charge us for the trip to Spetisbury Manor Care Home where the children sang for the elderly residents.
“We wouldn’t be able to do half the things that we do if it weren’t for DCT. We don’t want to ask parents to cover the school’s transport cost.
“Without DCT, we would have to hire very expensive coaches which would end up being half empty, or we would have to rely on staff cars, which would mean staff would have to be away from school. So DCT is a real asset in a community where you have small primary schools like ours.”
Over at Cerne Abbas CE VC First School, another small school in a rural area of Dorset, DCT’s buses have taken pupils to the local dinosaur museum and on bluebell walks, as well as journeys much further afield to destinations including the Sea Life Centre, a science centre in Bristol and even Salisbury Cathedral.
“Because of where we are located, we can’t do anything or go anywhere without transport,” says the school’s administration assistant, Andrea Schafer. “Since it’s such a small school, it’s not possible to have our own bus - so we’re reliant on people like DCT to get the children out for trips.”
For both schools, working with DCT is about far more than just affordable trips.
“Rather than hire a minibus with a driver from a normal transport company, we feel DCT is much more aware of the needs of the community and the children,” says Shulay. “They are also very reliable and have helpful drivers, with excellent communication from the office staff. I can just pick up the phone and ping them an email and I’ll get a response back straight away.”
Andrea says that DCT has become such an integral part of the school that the drivers feel like family. “Because we have had the same drivers over the years, they get to know the kids really well, so we all feel like they are part of our school. It’s a nice experience for the kids not having a stranger picking them up.”
Tim Christian, General Manager at DCT, comments: “Both of our Journey Maker schools show that being small and rural doesn’t mean you can’t make a big impact on behalf of your pupils – particularly when you have a partner like us to help get the children out and about. Shulay and Andrea are great examples of the people working behind the scenes – like our own admin staff – who play a really important role in making a difference to their community.”
If you think DCT could help take your school pupils out on new adventures, contact 01258 287980.