Title ID 4362Collection ID451
TitleEducational Cruises: The Teacher’s Role
Genre/TypeProfessionalIndependent Artist/Film-makerNon-fictionPromotional/Publicity
ThemePublic Services Transport
KeywordsEducation Holidays Landscape Outings Schools Ships Travel Youth
LocalLondon Dundee Narvik North Cape Hammerfest Olden Bergen
RegionalGreater London
NationalEngland Scotland United Kingdom Norway Europe
ProductionB-I Presents
CameraLionel O. Joseph
DirectorLionel O. Joseph
ProducerLionel O. Joseph
EditorLionel O. Joseph
NarratorBob Danvers Walker (Pathé Gazette Cinema Newsreel reader)
MusicEdward Grieg played by the Surrey County Youth Orchestra
ParticipantsKathleen Dalyell; Tam Dalyell MP; Joyce Joseph; Lionel O. Joseph; Kristin Polden
Other creditsErnest Mongor (Conductor)
FormatColour Sound
Duration22 min. 30 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


This amateur film which details a school cruise to Norway was used by The British India Steam Navigation Company (BI) for fourteen years to promote the educational cruises which they ran between 1961 and 1981. A professionally produced voice-over narrates the story of the 15th-28th July 1967 cruise.


The British India Steam Navigation Company (BI) cruise liner Uganda is at sea whilst Lionel and Joyce Joseph, party leaders from Sondes Place School, peruse the paperwork for a forthcoming educational cruise to Norway. A letter from Surrey County Council invites parents to a meeting to discuss the July cruise. The boys at Sondes Place School prepare for their trip - they learn navigation skills, attend lectures, practice deck hockey and dancing, listen to Kristen Polden's rendition of a Norwegian folk song and pack their suitcases. The camera also films a herring being dissected. The BI cruise liner Dunera is in dock at Dundee - once on board the party leaders are briefed. Out at sea and on the fjords, the children and adults play deck games, exchange money, sleep in dorms and observe trawlers, seabirds and a seaplane. The itinerary includes excursions to the Briksdal Glacier where the children learn about the geology of the area and to Bergen where they visit the home and tomb of Edward Grieg. Dunera returns to the open sea for the homeward journey and an edited sequence recalls images of the trip. On their return the pupils of Sondes Place School organize an exhibition and record their experiences in individual journals.


Contextual information

The 1967 educational cruise to Norway featured in the film Educational Cruises: The Teacher's Role (1967) was the fifth such cruise undertaken by Sondes Place School, Dorking. It was filmed by party leader Lionel Joseph who made it with the intention of recording a school event (similar to the Screen Archive South East film Oceanography Course in Corsica (1971?) in which one of Astor School's educational trips is recorded) but it was picked up and used by The British India Steam Navigation Company (BI) as a promotional film. BI had already had a film made by a commercial film company about its educational cruises but it favoured the footage captured by Lionel Joseph primarily because of the access he had to the school preceding and following the cruise. Judging by the title of the film, Educational Cruises: The Teacher's Role (1967) was targeted at an audience of teachers, perhaps to allay their concerns about the level of work demanded on such cruises.

The BI was established in 1856, quickly becoming one of the country's premier shipping companies (it merged with P&O in 1914 but retained its own name until 1971). During the inter-war years a number of the company's ships were built as troopships for the Ministry of Defence and were utilized during the Second World War. In the post-war era such ships became increasingly obsolete - BI had to find alternative roles for them and so decided upon an Educational Cruise Programme which guaranteed a government retainer. Three of its ships (MS Dunera, MS Devonia and SS Uganda) were converted into cruise ships. Over the course of 20 years in excess of 40,000 children from across Britain voyaged on these ships to various European locations where they learnt about geology, natural history, languages, etc. The educational cruises were becoming somewhat of a common feature of the education landscape, but the programme began to lose ground when the oil crisis struck in 1973 - the costs involved in running the ships became increasingly untenable and by 1974 SS Uganda was the only surviving British educational cruise ship.

The regularity with which Sondes Place School utilized the Educational Cruise Programme during the 1960s may be a telling indicator of the contemporary education system. Although sets of places were allocated to all state schools, it would be interesting to analyse whether secondary modern schools, such as Sondes Place, exploited the service more than grammar schools. Secondary modern schools emphasized the practical over the academic - the practical elements of the educational cruises would have therefore complemented their approach to teaching and learning. The educational cruises would have also given their pupils, many of whom came from less privileged backgrounds, exciting opportunities to gain firsthand experience of foreign lands and cultures. Before the introduction of educational cruises pupils may only have experienced this via officially produced educational films such as [Travels to Australia] (1950s?) which is housed at Screen Archive South East - school trips, such as the one enjoyed by students from Oakmeeds School in Screen Archive South East film Pennies. School Trip to Switzerland (1951) were, in contrast, relatively uncommon.

Related titles

Related resources


Dalyell, Tam. Ship School. London: Newman Neame Ltd, 1963

The former Director of Education, Tam Dalyell describes the early post-war years of BI's educational cruises. Copies of the book are available at The University of Sussex and The British Library.

Ollis, Mary. Boarders Away: An Account of British India Educational Cruises. London: Longman Group, 1973

This book offers a brief history of BI's educational cruises using contributions from BI staff, teachers and students. A copy of this book is available at The British Library.


Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum has numerous collections pertaining to the use of BI ships (including Dunera) during the Second World War. The collections' database is searchable.

The National Archives

The National Archives at Kew houses collections regarding The British India Steam Navigation Company The National Archives' database is searchable online.

Surrey History Centre

The Surrey History Centre (SHC) at Woking holds reports, a journal and a CD-Rom relating to the educational cruises undertaken by Sondes Place School, Dorking dating 1967-1971. The SHC collections catalogue is searchable online. Please note - copies of the reports are also available at Screen Archive South East.


School Afloat* (1961)

This British Movietone newsreel looks at the transformation of Dunera from a troopship to an educational cruiser. The film record can be found on The British Universities Film and Video Council's News On Screen database.

Educational Cruiser* (1971)

This British Movietone newsreel item features children aboard the BI educational cruiser Nevasa at Malta. The film record can be found on The British Universities Film and Video Council's News On Screen database



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