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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

School groups return for iconic Canberra excursion

The iconic Canberra school excursions are resuming, after COVID-19 and travel restrictions halted Australian kids from checking out the national capital’s best sites.

Adelaide’s Playford College visited Australian Parliament House yesterday, Tuesday 10 November, after being the first school group to fly into Canberra since the pandemic commenced.

Playford College Principal Chris Riemann said he was pleased the school could make the trip to Canberra, a tradition it had for its Year 7 students.

“Realistically I think we were fortunate we had a November booking so that made it possible. Then we made a call and that was every year we bring our Year 7 cohort, or for the years the college has existed,” he said.

“That’s a tradition we started, and we didn’t want a year group to miss out. We find it is the most valuable trip of the year.”

During 2019, over 170,000 students visited Canberra on school excursions, which ceased in early March 2020 due to the pandemic.

A 2019 University of Canberra study estimated school excursion visits to Canberra generate approximately $130 million for the local economy annually.

After touring Parliament House, Playford College students were met by Tourism Investment Minister, Senator Simon Birmingham, and Member for Spence, Nick Champion.  

The pair further explained Australia’s democracy, opening up the floor to a very quiet questioning until it was announced that best question would be rewarded with a second dessert that night.

Mr Riemann said the trip allows students to build on the curriculum they have already been learning in the classroom.

“I think they will get fresh eyes on a topic that can be dry when it’s done in the classroom,” he said.

“They have been through all the rudiments of democracy, they know how many senators there are, they know about MPs but when you’re watching it through a window and the little person next to me said ‘I am watching the Prime Minister’ it was just an awakening.”

While the Adelaide school was the first to fly into the Territory, for their Tuesday 10 to Friday 13 November visit, some regional NSW schools started making the trip by road starting last week.  

However, Playford College was the first school to be in the same building with federal politicians since March, after the venue had been closed to visitors during Parliamentary sittings.

The rest of the trip will see the school group head to classic Canberra locations, including the Australian War Memorial and the National Zoo and Aquarium.

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