Monday, 11 June 2012

School Trip Robbery?

This week daughter goes on her first residential trip away from home.  She's going on an overnight school trip to a Youth Hostel in the Lake District.

Apart from being a bag of nerves at her being away from home for the first time, I'm also a little annoyed about her going.


Well, the school sent a letter home about the trip a couple of months ago outlining the itinerary, the accommodation, etc and asking for £82 for the trip.

Yes, you read that correctly, £82!

For one night!

Contrast that with the two night Brownie Holiday she is going on which includes transport, dormitory accommodation, food and activities for £35 (and Brown Owl apologised for it being £5 more than last year).

It's not that I don't have £82, but I can think of plenty of other things I would rather use it for than a one night school trip for daughter.

And I do believe it costs £82 given the transport costs (for only 31 pupils), accommodation and the activities they have planned (all of which cost money) but is it really necessary to do all that?

What about a walk around Tarn Hows?

How about something nearer to home to cut the transport costs?

Of course, I had the opportunity to say no, but how could my daughter be the only one in year 3 not going on the trip?

Next year they have a two night residential trip.  

Perhaps I should ask the Headmaster to consider the format and costing of next year's trip?

I wonder if any other parents feel the same?

Or should I just bite my tongue and swallow the cost?


Anonymous said...

I think she must go and not miss out on the experience. But it's definitely worth discussing with the head the fact that it's a lot of cash and any efforts to keep costs of future trips to a minimum would help not only you but most other parents in this financially tricky time. My daughter has a one-week Year 7 residential in July which is costing £210, and my son has Year 6 one in September which is a whopping £365!!! Painful.

Sarah said...

Sounds like overkill. Doing too much is never a good idea because the kids won't get the most out of the activities.

Anonymous said...

We have three daughters, who include Twins so we get double the cost in the same year. As they have become more aware they question the cost of school trips and only ask to go on ones which enhance their education. The fees for each student include the cost for the teachers to go, as well as insurence and fuel costs, so that's why School trips cost more than if you go as a family. One of my daughter is doing Duke of Edinburgh award, that's £200. The other is doing GCSE music for which we have been asked to top up the included singing lessons by 10 mins per session - £70 per term. Education is not free in state schools!

Maggie May said...

That IS a lot of money for one night & I'm sure, like you suggested that there would be some more economical brilliant day trip that they could have. Some families would find that too much & would struggle to find it. Do they ever think about how it makes some people feel?
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Working Mum said...

Ali - £365 seems excessive! My daughter basically has to go on this trip because otherwise she is not allowed to go to school for those two days and I would have to find and pay for childcare. Talk about having us over a barrell!

Sarah - I am expecting a very tired and emotional child for the rest of the week. If she's too tired for school, I'll have to pay for childcare for her to be off!! Double whammy!

Jan - I can only imagine the cost with three children, at least I only have one! That's why I wonder about the cost; how do parents paying this for two or three children feel? I know the costs of school trips because I have run them myself, but my trips were low cost and in the school holidays to help parents who would otherwise have to find childcare anyway.

Maggie - the school think it's important for them to do a residentiial to become more independent, but the cost seems excessive for the experience - she can get the same experience on Brownie camp for £35.

Kelloggs Ville said...

Year 5 PGL £350, year 6 isle of wight £300, year 7 northumberland £280, year 8 Germany £360, year 9 Belgium £415. Batton down the hatches it doesn't get any easier.

Catharine Withenay said...

The cost of school residentials is a difficult balance. As a governor we have raised this as an issue. The problem is that residentials are great experience for the kids. Our school itemises how the cost is made up, which helps, but still it has been an expensive year for me - two 2-night residentials for my son and one for my daughter, totalling nearly £500. And, as you say, you can't say no.

Pippa W said...

OUCH! I think that I would have turned around and said after the fact sorry the answer is no. For one night that is far too much and the school does need to be told.

Expat mum said...

Hmmm - is it the school's place to educate them in becoming independent by spending a night away from home? Sure, it's their job to help them become independent thinkers, but it's up to the parents how much more independent they want them to be.

Our kids have sleepover trips from about year 6, but they're included in the (very high) fees. In Year 9 they do a trip to Washington DC, and we have to pay about $900 (500 pounds?) for the air fare and accommodation. There's a fund for families who can't manage it, but there are a lot of families caught in the middle - not quite qualifying for financial assistance, but not being able to afford it either.

Anonymous said...

A friend recently hard to find £1500 so her son could travel to China for ten days with his school. I simply couldn't afford that amount. I doubt many parents would. In this case they sacrificed the family holiday so he wouldn't miss out. I'm dreading it when the bills for school trips start coming in. I'd better start saving now.

Suburbia said...

Yep, I totally agree. Last year Samll Sprog went on year 6 camp for 4 nights and it cost nearly £400! We could have almost have had a family holiday for that!!!
This year he's only away 2 nights but it's still £160, it's only in Wales (as was the last one) I guess you pay for all the high wire activities etc (which he'd rather not do!)
Now if he was doing a few days of raft building and making dens then that would be worth it - he'd be in heaven then!

Sorry, I've ranted now. I hope she has a good time anyway and you don't loose too much sleep over it.

Kate Cunningham said...

Quite often the cost includes the safety equipment and fees for a qualified instructor for activities such as abseiling, kayaking etc. I've just come back from a residential week with children from all the High School feeder schools. It was a transition programme organised by teachers in both settings but the physical activities were led by experienced instructors. Before the trip we held a big concert and this raised enough money to cut the cost by £20 per child (there were 100+ children!) and also to buy a large supply of decent waterproofs for those who didn't have.
We also go away for a four day trip just with our school and again it is expensive due to the high quality of instructors, allowing the children to push themselves to their limits and achieve success in areas they have never experienced before. We fund-raise big style for this one though. We have 'toast Tuesdays' all year round which earns loads of money towards this. We hold an annual Barn Dance and some money from this is used to subsidise the trip. We also have a 'healthy bake and smoothie' morning for the whole school. Once we use money from these events to subsidise the overall cost, we organise a personal sponsor event so it is then up to the individual child to raise some money to further subsidise the trip. Some children have covered the cost of their whole trip in this way. We let parents pay the trip up in dribs and drabs and would never ever let money stand in the way of a child participating in a residential trip. If a child is missing because of money then I feel I have failed that child and the trip isn't the same with someone missing out. We have a little fund which is there to help and it isn't the first time staff have quietly put their hands into their pockets to add a final sum to allow a child to attend. No-one is ever the wiser.
Sainsbury's vouchers can be used to subsidise PGL trips. One year our Rotary Club gave us LOADS and after a little fundraising we took a group to PGL for the weekend and they ended up only paying £20 each. Even then I didn't like asking the parents so I suggested that the children had to do chores to earn the money from their parents. When we do go away, I don't let our kids bring spending money, as their parents have spent enough without wasting more money on 'tat'.
Maybe suggest fundraising to offset the cost a bit.
Other parents might be glad the money issue is raised. Residential trips are worth the money though and your child will come back with more confidence and feel a million dollars.

Working Mum said...

Kelloggsville - eek! Actually, I'm prepared for Senior School optional trips, it's the compulsary nature of this one that annoys me (all of year 3 go and there's no alternative if they don't).

Catharine - yes, it's some consideration of the cost that I think is needed. My school has asked all trip organisers to consider cost and has stopped some trips from going ahead because they were too expensive, and they were opitonal trips. I think the compulsory ones need to be looked at.

Pippa - I considered saying No, but it's virtually compulsory. All of year 3 go on the trip (so how could my daughter be the only one not going) and there's no school if they don't go, so I'd have childcare problems for two days!

Expat Mum - Yes, I'm uncomfortable with letting her go on this one at such a young age, if it were an optional trip I could have avoided it, but all of year 3 go on this trip. I do pay school fees for daughter, so this is on top of school fees, perhaps they could consider including compulsory trips in the fees?

Rosie Scribble - I can't believe your friend gave up a family holiday to send a child to China. No child NEEDS a trip to China, but all children need to spend time with their families!

Suburbia - and were those trips compulsory? It's the not having a chance to say no that annoys me. I'm sure I would have seen the headmaster if I'd been expected to pay £400 for a compulsory trip. Parenthood can't be expected to include funding lots of lovely holidays for your children at the expense of something else!

Kate - I have run such trips myself in the past (I'm a secondary school teacher) and have always tried to keep costs down in similar ways. And my trips have been optional and in the school holidays. Yes, there are educational value to these trips, but my point is that we shouldn't be holding parents to ransom to pay for them during term time with no alternative. There doesn't appear to have been any attempt to keep costs down at my daughter's school, just an assumption that parents will pay.

Kelloggs Ville said...

I disagree with the comment about the school trips paying for instructors etc forcing the price. We ran exactly the sae trip for the guides as the school ran to PGL. Coach included etc for over £100 cheaper. Shopping around, negotiating prices etc works. I don't think the schools have the same 'drive the cost down' mindset. Ps year 5 and 6 trips had the same 'compulsory' about them. Senior school trips would be easier to say no to.

Anonymous said...

Difficult one isn't it. That does sound like a lot of money to me and I would be inclined to question it. Amy's residential for 4 nights was £180 and she did absolutely tons of activities. Plus there was a huge staff presence, all qualified in dealing with special needs children so I think £180 was very reasonable.

The problem is, some parents might not be able to afford £82 and then the child gets left out.

Anyway, I hope she has a wonderful time and it was worth the money!

CJ x

Working Mum said...

Kelloggsville - that's very interesting that you did it for £100 cheaper; I agree entirely about the mindset. It seems that daughter's school has always run these trips and parents always pay up, so they don't bother to change anything.

Crystal - your daughter's trip sounds reasonable given the level of supervision required. My daughter's trip has 31 pupils (aged 7/8) with three staff so it's not even a 1 to 10 ratio. That's another concern!

Jen said...

In guiding that age would demand a ratio of 1:6 indoors and 1:4 under canvas yet I am sure a guiding leader would beat the price for the same activities.
Guiding can included, particularly as the kids get older, fundraising to reduce cost through bagpacks and so on. But even so, I think we're just more aware of value for money and if a trip comes up to o expensive, we just bin the idea so parents never know.
Apologies for some bad spelling, it's not allowing me to go back and edit! I did want to say Scouting also more cost conscious.

Jen said...

Hmm, hope you got my first comment! I wanted to add, yes I would be sending mine if they were the only one to miss out otherwise, fortunately our school does no y3 residential and has just ditched the y4 one.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget her godfather went away with school for the first time aged seven and I don't think he has really stopped travelling since.

Mrs Average said...

I am a school business manager who deals with many trips (including the residentials). If you hadnt described the trip I would have thought they had a night as the Hilton booked. Our year 6 children are off to Paris for 5 days..... all inclusive at £240. Budgets are stretched so we dont subsidise unless there is a real need but we also appreciate that our trips need to be excellent value - educationally and financially.

My own children arent at that age yet, but of course I would not want them to miss out. I would pay up and probably have a word to the head.

Iro Helen said...

i am sure you will cope with that hard situation! In the foto you look really brave!

Working Mum said...

Jen - thank you, I did get your comment. Having also been a cub leader myself, I know how we try to pack as much in for as little costs as possible. Yay for the Guiding and Scouting Organisations!!

Mrs Average - I have taken 12 year olds to the French Alps for a week in a nice hotel for an activity holiday including sailing, cycling, archery, etc for less than £200 so how a night in Grasmere costs £82 I don't know! Still, I paid up and she won't miss out.

Rhian Drinkwater said...

Definitely raise it with the school. Because surely there will be families who genuinely cannot afford it, or have to go without essentials to afford it, and it marks out those children if they can't go. It's a really unfair thing to do in state education.

Working Mum said...

Rhian - I do need to point out that it isn't a state school, but even so, some parents are scrimping to pay the fees and these extras can really mount up (unifom is about £200 per year). I even complained when my daughter's school photo was £50 for a pack of 6 photos as I thought that was too much.