"More from a week in the Alps than they experience in school"
: Exploring ski readiness in UK secondary schools

  • Michelle Evans

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Introduction The benefits of school ski trips are multifaceted and involve physical activity that exposes young people to winter conditions and mountainous environments. However, young people are the most commonly injured population within skiing. The success of school trips is related to teacher’s prior knowledge of skiing excursions in conjunction with the goodwill of teachers to organise and facilitate these. Currently, in the United Kingdom, there are no mandatory guidelines for teachers. Arguably, the first step is to benchmark current school practices and identify if these practices have been implemented across schools in England and Wales. The overall aim of this thesis is to explore the preparation practices prior to and during school ski trips using a mixed methods approach. Methods Following ethics approval and informed consent, 3014 secondary schools across England and Wales were contacted by email regarding ski trip practices. The objectives were to explore the preparation practices prior to and during the ski trip and to identify if these practices were consistent across England and Wales. This initial quantitative study involved an electronic survey containing 32 questions on demographic data, contextual information on the school, information concerning ski trip preparation, common practices occurring on the piste and attitudinal questions to gather information on ski trip practices. A total of 270 schools across England and Wales completed the survey. Descriptive statistical methods were used to calculate the percentage response rate for each question and Chi-squared (χ2) tests to identify statistical significance. Statistical analysis of the data was conducted using IBM SPSS statistics for windows (Armonk, NY: IBM Corp), version 20. The statistical significance was set at 95% (P < 0.05) level of confidence. In the subsequent qualitative study, from the 270 respondents that had completed the online survey, 172 of these respondents agreed to further follow-up communication. All 172 respondents were contacted through email and 20 participants consented to telephone interviews. The objective was to gather the reflective experiences from teachers in the organisation of school ski trips. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with teachers (n = 20) across England and Wales. Thematic analysis was used to identify key themes across all interviews using NVivo 10, qualitative software package (QSR International Pty Ltd, 2015). Quantitative and qualitative data were collected sequentially and synthesised using methodological triangulation. A meta matrix developed the meta inferences which provided completeness and confirmation of the findings. Recommendations and advice were drawn from the findings to provide guidelines for those responsible in organising school ski trips. Results The survey results found no significant differences across region or school type in relation to the organisation of the school ski trip. Young people were informed about similar information prior to departing and whilst at the ski resort across the regions (P > 0.05). Inconsistent responses were found regarding prior ski lessons, screening pupils, physical preparation and knowledge of organising trips. There was a difference in opinion about legal action being a consideration when organising the trip and having concerns about injuries whilst on the trip. Following the interviews, four main themes were identified; “teacher preparation”, “preparation prior to the trip”, “activities and information during the trip” and “benefits and barriers of school ski trips”. The findings have drawn together the various barriers and obstacles that school trip teachers encounter to enable young people to experience the thrill of skiing. The synthesised findings from the two studies provided a comprehensive overview of school ski trip practices in England and Wales. This facilitated in providing evidence-based practice guidelines to inform policy and provide general recommendations for future best practice. Conclusion School ski trips have an unquestionable value in young people’s lives. Teachers are delivering some consistent messages across England and Wales to prepare young people for these trips. The implications of these findings are that all new teachers should obtain propositional knowledge through specialised ski courses for the management of school ski trips. One recommendation is that a central database is developed which contains relevant information to guide teachers in the management of a school ski trip. To facilitate in the knowledge transfer, mobile telephone applications could be a novel method to disseminate knowledge to both teachers and pupils.
Date of AwardSept 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorJane Coad (Supervisor), Michael Duncan (Supervisor), Mike Price (Supervisor) & Sheila Leddington-Wright (Supervisor)


  • secondary school trips
  • ski trips
  • teacher preparation
  • risk reduction
  • outdoor adventure activity

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