Pupils from King Edward VI Sheldon Health (KESH) Academy in Birmingham have been among the first to experience an Avanti West Coast Feel Good Field Trip – a brand new initiative launched by the train operator offering enriching and cultural educational days out to up to 5,000 pupils from schools in areas of greatest need.

Year seven pupils from KESH Academy travelled by Avanti West Coast Pendolino from Birmingham New Street to Coventry, where they spent a day getting hands-on while channelling their inner artist in the 2021 City of Culture. After a private walking tour of the city from expert City Hosts, the group was guided around Daniel Lismore’s latest exhibition ‘Be Yourself: Everyone Else Is Already Taken’ at The Herbert. Pupils were then treated to a creative printing workshop where they sketched out and printed designs for their own piece of pattern-based artwork.

The immersive day out helped mark the start of the wider Feel Good Field Trips campaign, which – in a first for a UK train operator - will connect up to 5,000 pupils aged between four and 18 from across Great Britain with educationally enriching opportunities between now and the end of 2023. Participating schools are all part of the Avanti Schools Programme, which aims to support primary and secondary schools located across the West Coast Main Line with high pupil premium rates and therefore minimal access to this type of extra-curricular experience.

Rail Minister Wendy Morton said: “This is a brilliant initiative from Avanti West Coast, that will get the next generation out and about seeing the best of our country while using our fantastic rail network to do it.”

James Gordon, Head of Year at KESH Academy said: “The children had a fantastic time visiting Coventry on their Avanti West Coast Feel Good Field Trip. Experiences like this are something that our pupils rarely get the chance to enjoy; some of them have never been on a train, or even left the area they live in. To have such a fun, hands-on, and immersive educational experience is something they will remember for a long time to come.” 

In his role as the Feel Good Field Trips ‘Culture Conductor’, renowned spoken word performer, poet and award-winning rapper, George the Poet launched the campaign by helping curate the field trip experiences and hosting his own Feel Good Field Trip. This outing saw a group of primary school children from Ashbury Meadow Primary School in Manchester enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime poetry writing and recording studio production workshop. The experience saw them create their very own piece of spoken word art, which was later recorded together with George the Poet at Soho Sonic Studios in Camden*.

George the Poet said: “Some of our most important learning experiences as children take place beyond the confines of the classroom. Having spent time as a youth worker, helping young people to access a healthy dose of educational escapism is something I’m very passionate about. That’s why I’m excited to help kick-start a project that will connect young people from a whole range of different backgrounds to exciting and enriching opportunities that they’ll always remember. It’s important that children are educated on the culture that surrounds them, which is why I’m thrilled that so many pupils will get the chance to enjoy this kind of hands-on, immersive experience as part of the Feel Good Field Trips campaign.”

These events, which also included a cookery and food provenance workshop at Mughli – one of the founding restaurants on Manchester’s famous Curry Mile - mark the beginning of the campaign which will see more destinations and experiences added over the next two years. These will include outdoor adventuring in the Lake District and fashion upcycling in Glasgow.

Avanti West Coast is working alongside Community Rail Partners from within the Community Rail Network, including Community Rail Lancashire, Heart of England and Rail 74 to deliver this campaign, with additional partners set to join the campaign during its two-year roll-out.

Avanti West Coast Managing Director, Phil Whittingham, said:

"The past two years have been incredibly difficult and school children have been particularly affected by this pandemic. Not only has their education been heavily disrupted, but they also lost out on two-years’ worth of social experiences. With the launch of Feel Good Field Trips, we want to give young people across the West Coast Main Line access to truly enjoyable opportunities which they otherwise would miss out on. Our network is rich in iconic destinations, which truly reflect the cultural diversity of our nation. We can’t wait to offer some much-needed joy to thousands of children who thoroughly deserve it.”

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Avanti West Coast

Avanti West Coast run the fastest trains out of London Euston to serve the UK’s biggest towns and cities along the West Coast Main Line.

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