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A school trip to St Ives

November 4th, 2015

St Ives is a great place for a school trip; great art, iconic institutions, beautiful beaches and no need at all to trek umpteen children on and off public transport or coaches. Over the past year we’ve had some great schools and colleges visiting the area and staying with us: The teachers always look like they’re having a relatively stress-free time of it and the kids love the beaches and town.

Now we know there’s loads to do in the area but what does a school trip really consist of and what do you need to watch out for if you’re bringing your class to St Ives?

Sketching on the SW Coastal path DSCF1723 DSCF1696-001 Sketching at the Barbara Hepworth Museum

Kate McLaren, Head of Art at Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Wiltshire, has been bringing classes to St Ives for many years and she very kindly agreed to answer our questions and share her top tips.

Why St Ives?

St. Ives is a fantastic, artistic centre with great historical and contemporary artist communities; it has been the home of world renowned artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and more recently Kurt Jackson over in St. Just.

Which part of the trip do students enjoy the most?

Definitely working on the beach: Drawing the harbour from Porthminster Beach then dipping into the sea!  The students and staff really bond during the trip – it’s a really good way to see how your students work best and give them intense advice.

Sketching on the harbour

What do you most look forward to?

Apart from St. Ives just being a wonderfully picturesque town, everything is very convenient and it’s a very safe area for the students to work in – you also don’t have to get in and out of minibuses or coaches if you choose not to.

What’s the most challenging thing about coming to St Ives?

The weather! We work outside a lot during our visit so keep our fingers crossed every year for the sun to shine; it’s always good to have a contingency plan.

How does a trip to St Ives complement classroom learning?

We always start the students’ GCSE art project with the theme of ‘Coast’ so everything they do whilst we are away is helping their GCSE coursework; working en plein air, experiencing different drawing techniques, working with artists, etc.

What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened on a trip?

Bumping into the Poldark film crew at Botallack Mines and being shifted from our drawing positions so that they could film.

How many different galleries do you visit?

We book in with the Tate St. Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum but then the students go exploring around all the individual galleries in the town. It’s great to see what and who they find.

What do you think St Ives is missing?

Nothing – we like it just the way it is! We have everything we need, maybe with the exception of rain shelters…. Just in case.

Why do you stay at Cohort?

The location and facilities are fantastic; and the staff are really friendly.

What are the best and worst things about Cohort?

There is plenty of space for the students to relax and not be ‘on top’ of each other.  The hostel is very clean/ secure and the staff are fantastic!  They are so very welcoming and friendly – it’s been great to come back and see them each year!

The seagulls are noisy – bring ear plugs!

If you didn’t visit St Ives where would you go?

Possibly Falmouth, however we have been really lucky to keep coming back to St Ives each year… we are not looking to change locations!

What are your top tips for teachers planning a trip to St Ives?

  1. Book your galleries in advance
  2. Ensure you get a workshop with an artist from the St. Ives School of Painting – they are very flexible and reasonable
  3. Ensure you have wet weather options and plenty of change for the car park – we always speak to the Leisure Centre before we arrive
  4. Eat fish and chips at The Albatross next door
  5. Bring ear plugs

Thanks so much to Kate and we really look forward to seeing you guys next year.

Organising a school trip to St Ives

If you’re interested in bringing a school group to St Ives more info can be found on our School Trips page; and / or do give us a call on 01736 791664 or send us a message to discuss any ideas.

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