Expeditions and Exchanges

Westminster offers an extensive variety of both cultural and leisure trips and in an average year the school mounts approximately 60 expeditions. Linguists are well catered for by visits to France, Spain, Germany, Russia and Cuba; art historians have visited Florence and Venice to study the works of the Old Masters; skiers have experienced the slopes in the French Alps, Jasper and Vermont; rowers have taken part in the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston; and geographers have appreciated the landscapes of Morocco, China and Jordan.


Some of the School’s expeditions have been running for many years now, such as the longstanding Greek trip for Classics enthusiasts, which takes place at Easter. Each year, Year 12 pupils are offered the chance to travel to the States to scout out US university options. Twice a year, the School runs Lower School Expeditions (LSEs), for pupils in Years 9, 10 and 11. Recent LSEs have involved travel the UK and Europe, offering pupils the opportunity to photograph the Northern Lights in Iceland and to develop their climbing skills in Catalunya.

We also make the most of our own nation’s beauty, history and heritage with excursions to a number of locations within the UK. In particular we are very fortunate to have School House in Alston, Cumbria, which serves as a base for a number of outdoor activity trips across the northern Pennines. All Year 9 boys visit Alston for a four-day stay in house groups, together with their housemaster and another member of house staff, as a way of building community. In addition to exploring the fells of the Lake District and visiting historical sites such as Corbridge Roman Museum, Hadrian’s Wall and the old lead mine on Alston Moor, pupils also enjoy the chance to cook and socialise together in a non-school environment.

Whether the expeditions involve crossing a county border or crossing an ocean, we find that Westminster pupils always gain new insights into themselves and the world around them as a result of these trips, as well as a greater understanding of and appreciation for whichever subject or hobby may have taken them there.

"The trips I’ve been on have taught me so many new things and have actually changed the way I think when I’m back in the classroom."

— Ben, Year 12 Pupil


There is no better way to learn a language than to immerse yourself in the culture where it is spoken. Over the years that Westminster has offered an exchange of pupils with schools in France, Spain, Germany, Chile and China we have not only seen new friendships formed and greater cultural awareness gained but also a higher standard of examination results.

By visiting the native home of the language they are learning, and by engaging in genuine conversation with peers who speak it as a mother tongue, pupils are able to learn the colloquial and cultural nuances of a language in a very different way than they can in the classroom. Our European exchanges are open to all pupils from Year 10 onwards, with pupils in Years 10 and 11 spending one week in the exchange country and pupils in the Sixth Form often staying for longer. The same is true of the pupils we receive and host at Westminster who come to us from a variety of schools in Germany, France and Spain. The Chinese exchange is only available to pupils in the Sixth Form; however, it is open to anyone who is interested, whether or not they are studying the Chinese language. These trips are centred around Beijing where our partner school, Beijing No. 1 School, is located, but we always include a visit to another city or province.

Our exchange programme is a huge success across all our language departments, contextualising pupils’ learning and boosting their confidence for upcoming exams. However, we are also pleased to see how these trips and exchanges aid pupils’ cultural and social awareness and contribute to their wider personal development.

"I really enjoyed the opportunity to use the language I had learnt in the classroom while I was there - in shops, in the street, everywhere... I was so pleased that people understood me!"

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