The School Trip

The School Trip

When Miss Delaney agreed to accompany Mr Manship on his class’ school trip to Bristol Zoo she had thought it would be fun. She always enjoyed a trip with her infants, they were off to Weston-Super-Mare in two weeks, and as she only worked part time she was free to be an extra adult on this trip. There were a couple of parent volunteers too, to ensure they had the correct pupil to adult ratio, but a second member of teaching staff was always useful.

Class 4 were aged eight to nine. Miss Delaney preferred teaching younger children, they were so keen to learn, but Years 3 and 4 weren’t usually too bad. They still retained an innocence and generally showed enthusiasm for any topic. This year group were a tough crowd though. They had been hard work aged 6 and hadn’t improved during their time in the junior part of the school. This was probably why she had been invited. Mr Manship didn’t want to cope with them on his own in this free environment.

She had thought a trip to the zoo would be exciting enough to keep their attention, but, up until now, it had been hard work to keep them all together, looking and listening while their guide told them about the different animals and their habitats. It was like rounding up sheep, or herding cats!

At this moment in time though, she certainly had their attention!

Jonathan, their friendly guide, had encouraged the children to sit on a low wall while he went to find a friend to come out to meet them. He had appeared with an adult male royal python named Rafiki.

“Royal pythons come from Africa, where the Swahili language is spoken. Rafiki is the Swahili word for ‘friend’,” he had explained, “which is a great name for such a calm, friendly snake.” He had the children come up in groups of four and hold out their arms. He draped Rafiki over their hands so that they could feel the weight of him and the smoothness of his skin. They loved it. Even the more timid members of the class were up for it. One of the mums took photos that could be printed out for them back at school.

“What about you, Miss?” he had said, winking at Miss Delaney. She couldn’t refuse and look like a scaredy cat in front of the children. And that is how she came to be standing in front of Class 4 with the snake wrapped round her neck as Rafiki’s head disappeared under her skirt! The children had never been more animated. They roared with laughter, while the mum with the camera clicked away. Mr Manship tried, in vain, to control his mirth, while Jonathan carefully extricated Rafiki from her nether regions.

After that, it seemed like a good idea to find the picnic area and sit on the grass with their packed lunch, while the children calmed down a bit. Miss Delaney didn’t feel like eating much so she drank her carton of Ribena. If only she had a splash of vodka to add to it, to calm her nerves. The rest of the trip would seem like an anti-climax, even though they had saved their visit to the lions until last.

She could imagine what the children would write about in their literacy lesson the next day. ‘The best part of the trip was when the huge snake disappeared up Miss Delaney’s …..’