Field Study Tutor, Friend and Fantastic Addition to Any Geography Tour

Last updated: Jan 16th, 2024

To opt for a field study tutor or to not opt for a field study tutor? That is the question! Having been lucky enough to accompany a number of schools on geography trips in 2023, all with one of our amazing Field Study Tutors, we’d be hard pushed to find a reason as to why you wouldn’t!

First things first, what is a Rayburn Tours Geography Field Study Tutor?

Simply put, a Field Study Tutor is an avid geographer, usually with a background in classroom teaching. They have in-depth knowledge of your chosen destination, both geographically and culturally. They are there to lead the geographical input of your tour and ensure students can connect what they see in front of them to what they have been learning about in the classroom!


But that’s just the short version… Read on!

So, you know our Field Study Tutors are geographical experts, many of whom have been Geography Teachers in UK Secondary Schools themselves. But how do you benefit from having them on your tour?

Firstly, they can utilise their knowledge of how kids learn in the classroom. Their teaching experience allow them to connect what they see in front of them to what they have been learning about in school.

This experience also allows them to pitch their information at just the right level. They know how to keep a class of students interested and engaged – and you’ll know, that’s no mean feat! Fear not, they won’t overwhelm your group. Whilst they can talk geography morning, noon and night, they’ll work alongside you to give the level of input you feel is perfect for your group!

Watching some of these field study tutors in action in Iceland really affirmed their incredible depth of destination knowledge. It was clear that they had been to Iceland so many times – they were able to offer a level of detail and understanding of the landscapes that would be hard to match with academic knowledge alone. They were able to answer all sorts of questions from students (and teachers too!), and always had a story or case study in mind to share with the group. And they were never short of an amusing fact or tale to lighten the mood either – some of our favourites are the legend of the Icelandic Elves and the reason that you don’t see many dogs in Iceland…



Val Vannet, Geography teacher for over 30 years and Rayburn FST for the last 10 years, explains:


With the best will in the world, teachers don’t have the time to research the place they’re going to – they’re too busy teaching! If they’ve never been before, then trying to interpret the landscape and know enough, without a book of notes, and stand and talk to 40 kids, is hard. So, it’s just about being realistic. I now have the time and enjoy keeping up to date through podcasts and social media. Teachers just simply don’t have time to do that!”

Rayburn’s Geography Tours Development Manager and Field Study Tutor, Cath Rule, adds “our learning is on-going and as a team of field study tutors and keen geographers, there is aways lots of communication. The WhatsApp group is always pinging as we share things like news reports and scientific research to help develop each other’s knowledge. We will also share first-hand ideas and recommendations about our geography destinations. So, whilst you get one field study tutor on tour with your group, really, you’re benefiting from the knowledge of a whole team of experts.


Val Vannet
Field Study Tutor



Field Study Tutor, with a Rayburn Tours coat, walks at the back of a group of students whilst talking to a student

Your staff + Rayburn Field Study Tutor = The Dream Team!

One thing we quickly learned when watching these FSTs in action was that although teachers once, they do not adopt the role of a teacher while on tour. Instead, they become an extension of your team – think of them as the member of staff who’s come along to bring the on-location expertise and knowledge. Other teaching staff will help with relating this back to specific things that have been taught in the classroom or helping them to understand how they can use this in upcoming exams for example, whilst others may take more of a pastoral lead. Together, you become the dream team!



Speaking to Ian Geddes, Rayburn FST for over 12 years, he said:


As I was a teacher myself for a long time, the one thing I had to learn very quickly working for Rayburn as an FST was that I was no longer a teacher. I was no longer Mr Geddes, I was Ian. And that’s a different relationship, a different dynamic, which is good and has many benefits. I tell the kids, if any of you call me sir, you have to buy me a Mars Bar – this is a great way to break the ice and establish my role in the group!


Ian Geddes
Field Study Tutor



It was interesting to see how students warm to their FSTs. Subtly sidling up alongside them and asking questions that they don’t want to ask aloud in front of their peers, or eagerly sharing the moment that “something clicked” by imparting their knowledge and newfound understanding. It’s incredible to see, and it’s one of the reasons many of our field study tutors love their jobs so much.

And, trust us, it’s not just the students who benefit from their knowledge! Don’t underestimate how much you might learn from them too.


Field Study Tutor, with a Rayburn Tours coat, engages a group of students and points off camera.

It’s so much more than just the learning!

We know just how much goes into organising any school trip – the responsibility, the administration, the planning and processes – and things don’t get any easier once you board the coach or plane. So, how does an FST help?



“Field study tutors bring a sense of reassurance!” explains Val:


Teachers have a weight of responsibility. Nowadays with levels of health and safety required for teachers to leave the school grounds, our FSTs offer an extra level of reassurance. We know the area; we know the people and we know your itinerary. We’re able to step in and make amendments to the itinerary if forced to do so by the weather or any other elements beyond your control. One of the first things I say to any party leader as they board the coach is ‘relax, you’ve arrived. I will take it from here!’ Ian adds: “we provide support, we provide assurance, a calmness and an experience. In the end if they are wondering ‘where’s the nearest loo, I know that too!'”


Val Vannet
Field Study Tutor



Two Field Study Tutors, one near the camera and the other midground centre, stand in front of a curved line of students on a glacier.

FST or no FST?

Ultimately, the choice is yours! Not every group needs or wants the support of a Field Study Tutor, but for many groups it offers an extra pair of hands, an expert in your location, someone to help ensure the itinerary runs smoothly, a level of reassurance and for many geography teachers, a newfound friend!



Here’s what some of our 2023 groups had to say… (and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves!)

Real experiences

Why schools choose us


Elli was sensational! She was extremely knowledgeable, had a true passion and care for Iceland without being overbearing, and very importantly she was friendly, kind and personable. She really felt like one of the team, as if we’d known her for years. She is a true asset. The trip ran extremely smoothly thanks to her. The kids and staff loved her, and she really enhanced the trip, her knowledge of the area really brought out some true gems. She is a seasoned pro who has clear love for what she does. Being my first trip abroad as a HoD, she was key to the trip’s success, and definitely put my mind at ease. The best FST we’ve come across.

Enfield Grammar School

Catherine was absolutely amazing! It was like having an additional member of staff! We have kept in touch with her. She was really hands on in terms of logistics, phoning ahead to the various locations, communicating with bus drivers and the hotel staff. Catherine was highly knowledgeable about the places we were visiting. Catherine is the best tour guide I have ever had. It meant that I could relax and enjoy the trip too.

Fulneck School

Rob was absolutely fantastic! He was supportive throughout and engaging. I felt we worked well as a team. The kids liked him. He was flexible and he was always looking to ensure we had the best trip possible. The best field study tutor I have had on any school trip. And a very good geographer of course – taught the staff a thing or two.

Kew House School

Val is an excellent tutor who was a wealth of knowledge about Iceland. She engaged well with the pupils even if Geography was ‘not their thing’. She was also constantly on the case to help arrange alternatives once we were aware that some of the planned activities were cancelled due to poor weather. She fitted in well as part of our staff team too!

Thurso High School

Andrew was fantastic! Subject knowledge was brilliant and was appropriate for students in year 11. Students responded really well to him, asking him questions regularly. Andrew communicated regularly on the itinerary and would suggest what to change due to conditions in Iceland. He was a fantastic tutor who went above and beyond. Nothing was too much trouble for him, and we thoroughly enjoyed him being part of our group.

Mercia Academy

F for Fantastic

And there we have it, the FST offering in a nutshell. These incredible individuals make a geography tour experience and ensure you the peace of mind you need to make the most of exploring the world.

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