Subject: Re:Zine students (long - sorry)
Hi Anna I have organised and taken students on trips to London, Manchester, Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam and Prague. My groups were mainly teenage girls aged 16-19 years old although we took mature students on a couple of the trips. Before going we always wrote a 'code of conduct' in conjunction with the students. This basically covered punctuality, general behaviour, curfews, alcohol and drugs. The students all signed the code and a copy was sent to their parents. We also said that if a student's behaviour warrented it we would have no hesitation sending them home. We did a parents' evening giving them the schedule and explaining again the code.

With 20 students I would be tempted to split them into smaller groups as often as you can - I guess you will have plenty of helpers with you. The students always had to be in groups of at least 4 in their free time (try and make sure there's a sensible student in each group!)

Most of the time my groups were about 14 students and we only had 2 members of staff. It is REALLY important for those in charge to have free time away from the students - even if its only a couple of hours staring at a blank wall - you'll need it!

In all the trips I did (14) we really only had problems a couple of times. Once I found three students trying to hitchike into Paris from our hotel at the airport so they could meet up with some African drummers they'd met fleetingly at Place Trocadero during our 'Paris by Night' coach tour!! it was 1am and we were leaving the next morning! These girls knew no french and had no idea where the hotel was let alone its name! I'd checked their room as I had a feeling they were up to something.

On another occasion 2 students sneaked out of the hostel in London (Generator: ghastly place with its own bar - but great area)at 2am - to get some food as they were hungry so they said. I knew they were hoping to meet up with some blokes they'd met in the bar earlier. The other students still fondly recall me standing in my PJs and slippers yelling What do you mean you wanted a kebab - have you never heard of Rohypnol! (Actually none of them had so I had to explain - it almost turned into one of my lessons!)

As for alcohol - the worst behaviour was from a couple of 'mature' students - obviously raring to go now they were away from home! They got absolutely paralytic and I had to practically carry them back - this was Prague - VERY cheap alcohol!

Your question has brought back some great memories - my last trip was March last year as I've now changed jobs. You will return exhausted but exhilarated at how brilliant young people are. and they will never forget the trip - or you! And don't forget - count them in and out of EVERYTHING all the time - never think they are all there without checking! We nearly left a student in the loos at a motorway services as all her friends said yeh sure she was on the coach! Have a fabulous time Sally Somerset UK