To think DD's school could have managed expectations a little better.

(45 Posts)
Tallalime Tue 30-Apr-13 21:27:44

DD is in reception.

Her school are running a school trip, for reception and Yr 1, to a local castle. The day that they sent the letter home, they had obviously talked to the children about it and DD was beside herself with excitement. She has mentioned it pretty much every day since, "how many sleeps 'til the castle", "I can't WAIT to have my packed lunch at the castle", "Me and X and Y are going to be cats (I know, confused ) at the castle" etc etc. They have spoken about the trip at school several times since as well, last week they all made crowns to wear "on the bus" and painted pictures of castles and dragons.

Today, her class teacher was speaking to the parents as they dropped the children off to tell them that not enough people had paid for the trip (which is fine, I only managed to scrape the money together on Monday so fair enough) and it was quite likely going to be cancelled.

At bed time, the last words out of DD's mouth were "is it the castle tomorrow?"

If the trip is cancelled she is going to be really upset, DH and I will take her anyway, but obviously that won't be the same, as we're unlikely to 'be cats' with her there, and we won't be able to tailor the trip to appeal to 4-6yr olds the way that school trips are.

Am I unreasonable to think that the school could have held off on making a big deal out of the trip (it's another 2.5 weeks til they are supposed to go from now) when they weren't sure it was going to go ahead?

I completely understand why they may have to cancel, but I think they could have made less of an issue about going - especially given the age of the audience. I can explain to DD that there wasn't enough money to go - she will offer to pay with her money etc etc. I know if they cancel tomorrow, there will be tears, lots of them, and it will be brought up tearfully for days (she's one of those children who has to go over and over and over things that bother her). I am a little annoyed.

Finola1step Tue 30-Apr-13 21:31:03

So there are lots of parents who have not yet paid. The school are probably quite annoyed and sending out the pay up or it will be cancelled message. Don't worry at this stage. Cut down the talking about it at home just in case.

My money is on the trip going ahead. Hope I'm not proved wrong.

toomuchtoask Tue 30-Apr-13 21:31:29

Hardly their fault. They told the children about the trip. Parents didn't pay = no trip. I don't see what they've done wrong. How very dare they let the children get excited.

harryhausen Tue 30-Apr-13 21:32:42

Yes. I think they shouldn't have mentioned it to them as a definite thing.

At our school we get a 'feasibility' letter first in all the book bags. We have to sign it, saying we'd like to go (and are willing to pay the money). Then a few days later we get the 'we are going on x date, please sign and send in money etc'.

Did they do a letter first or just tell all the kids?

YANBU. Little kids get so excited about trips, I agree that the school should have held off from making a big deal about it until they were certain that it was going ahead.

I would also be a bit annoyed, although not enough to say anything to the teacher.

Can completely understand where you are coming from (and also have a DD who would be looking forward to being a cat at the castle or other such random creature!) Hope it does go ahead, but that she isn't too upset if they cancel.

BornToFolk Tue 30-Apr-13 21:37:25

They have spoken about the trip at school several times since as well, last week they all made crowns to wear "on the bus" and painted pictures of castles and dragons.

Well, I expect they are doing some project work around castles, to fit in with the school trip? DS (in Reception) went on a school trip to a farm in his first term so they did work around farm animals, things that grow etc. So, it's not that school's been making a big deal of the trip, just that they are naturally talking about a lot of castle-related things as that's the focus of learning at the moment.

It's a shame if your DD ends up being disappointed but I don't think that they could have done much else.

41notTrendy Tue 30-Apr-13 21:43:23

Yabu. What else could they have done? They booked a trip, discussed it to prepare children then have been let down. There would be people complaining if the school had sprung it on them.
However, the school may know they'd face this situation so have purposely made a fuss in the hope it prompts more people to pay.

StanleyLambchop Tue 30-Apr-13 21:43:46

I think she will still enjoy it if she goes with you and DH- can she make a crown with you to wear, and I am sure you would both love to pretend to be cats!! A lot of castles have fun trails for children to follow.

Which castle is it? <nosey>

Although I do think that the enough parents will pay up between now & then for it still to go ahead.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 30-Apr-13 21:47:39

I agree with BornToFolk. They will have been talking about it because it fits in with what they are learning about at the moment, they aren't doing it just for the sake of getting the children over excited.

I'd be more cross with the parents that haven't paid than I would with the school who are just trying to provide a stimulating curriculum or the children they teach.

WorraLiberty Tue 30-Apr-13 21:50:07

If they didn't make a big deal of it, they'd probably get even less people willing to pay, as they'd assume their kids weren't really that interested.

Catch 22 really sad

WipsGlitter Tue 30-Apr-13 21:51:43

How much is the trip?

I find this "voluntary" payment really odd. At the schools my DC went to, there was a price (and maybe people on free school dinners could get subsidised) and if you didn't pay, your child didn't go.

None of the trips were terribly expensive. Why don't schools say, "This is the trip, this is the cost".

Shit - I missed out a crucial fact. We are in Scotland.

littleducks Tue 30-Apr-13 21:52:54

Is the trip particularly expensive? I wonder if the school is just as surprised that many parents haven't paid. Our school mainly goes cheap trips, as we are outer London so they go via tube (for free) to free/cheap venues. However everybody pays on the pay for trips.

I don't think a school should have to send out a feasibility letter for every trip, there is so much planning that goes in beforehand. I know for example dd's teachers visited the zoo a couple if months before the trip.

StanleyLambchop Tue 30-Apr-13 21:53:20

The price of the coach really pushes the cost up apparently.

Mspontipine Tue 30-Apr-13 21:53:31

This happens with almost every trip ds goes on. It's organised then not enough parents pay and they have to keep warning parents and children that if not enough people pay up it will be cancelled.

This really pisses me off as though I'm sure some people genuinely cannot afford to pay but that these are few. Due to the possiblity of cancellation I'm assuming loads of people do not pay and this is because they don't see why they should when the payment is classed as 'voluntary.' Every trip letter states this and every trip letter also states that if not enough people pay the trip will not go ahead. It's awful to have it hanging over the kids at every trip sad

I'm not wealthy (sahm, single parent) but I appreciate what my son's school does for the children and am happy and proud to contribute we're talking £8/£10/£12 here not hundreds.

The PTFA have recently decided that funds will be used to contribute to travel costs for all trips which may help slightly but still will not get some ignorant gits to pay. [cross]

Mspontipine Tue 30-Apr-13 21:55:06

I mean angry

I've never known a trip be cancelled but I'm sure it does affect the planning of future excursions.

RFLmum Tue 30-Apr-13 21:56:05

At our school the PSA has a fund to help out with school trips if families can't afford it. Might be something to mention to the school . It means everyone can go and no one knows who has paid and who hasn't. You don't even have to apply for the funding - they just make up any shortfall if required.

KitNCaboodle Tue 30-Apr-13 21:57:09

I don't think schools are allowed to demand payment for trips, hence voluntary payments are asked for instead.
I agree that they would have been talking about the castle in context of a project or learning.
They're definitely getting the word out about viability to encourage more people to pay. I'd be surprised if the trip didn't go ahead.

decaffwithcream Tue 30-Apr-13 21:58:11

TBH since it's 2 and a half weeks away, there may be a sizeable number of parents who are intending to pay nearer the time (even if they are meant to pay by an earlier deadline). School may be trying to hurry them up.

tutu100 Tue 30-Apr-13 22:03:30

This happened with a trip my ds2 was going on. Children all very excited, but with a week to go some of the teachers let slip that less than 50% of parents had paid even though all children had returned permission to go slips. The school could not subsidise the trip by the amount needed and so it may have to be cancelled. Luckily that must have made some parents pay attention because enough parents then did pay the trip cost.

Any school trips that are deemed educationally necessary can not be compulsory payments so that no child misses out. This is why they can only ask for a voluntary payment, but some people take this piss with this. Obviously some people will not be able to afford to pay for trips, but then you get people like my SIL who doesn't pay for trips because she knows of other mums that don't bother so why should she (that attitude makes me seethe, but otherwise my sil is nice).

Our school always send out a breakdown of the trip costs asnd I am always amazed at how much of that cost is made up with the coach cost, however the school does go with the company with the best safety record and buses that exceed health and safety regs. The school also subsidises trips if it can and for trips that are more than £10 they allow you to pay in installments (eg £1 a week).

Mspontipine Tue 30-Apr-13 22:03:43

Is PSA like a PTFA? I think it's very unfair that those who chose not to pay take the money out of other children's hands - whether it's school money or PTFA money.

At our school there are those who blatently boast they do not pay (and probably could afford it - maybe buy a few less new skirts or something). sad

Tallalime Tue 30-Apr-13 22:04:00

It's not particularly expensive (a little over a tenner) but it is the most expensive trip they have done so far, and they have asked for the money at the end of the month this time - which affected me, so might affect some others.

DD's school is also a bit different in that its catchment area covers both the wealthiest and poorest parts of 'town'. So I can appreciate that it might be a real struggle for some parents to pay.

Like I say, I understand why they might have to cancel. I expect I am just being a bit pfb. I love it when DD gets excited about learning, and going to new places. They've just hit one of her current fads (princesses and space) so she's perhaps a little more invested in the trip than they (or I) could have expected.

I wouldn't complain - I dare say if they don't go, they'll have to put up with DD waxing lyrical about the time she was going to go to a castle and then she couldn't (almost certainly in song) for long enough that they'll get the picture anyway grin

TwinkleSparkleBling Tue 30-Apr-13 22:05:05

The voluntary part is there because we have to say that. Trips that are in school time have to be available to all-regardless of whether or not payment is given. However, there has to be enough money to cover the cost of the visit (transport, entry, cover staff). Difficult.

It would be upsetting for your dd I agree. Teachers also get upset when this happens (maybe not as much as your dad by the sounds of it). There will have been lots of time spent planning, risk assessing etc. More importantly we don't like it when the pupils miss out on a great opportunity.

I hope enough people pay up.

INeedSomeSun Tue 30-Apr-13 22:07:44

My Ds is going to a farm and the letter does not say 'voluntary' contributions. You have to pay to go & thats how it should be. You can pay in installments - it is £11. Most people handed the form back the very next day!

Thank you for explaining, Twinkle. Seems a really unfair system, though, if people can avoid paying.

RFLmum Tue 30-Apr-13 22:08:27

PSA is parent staff association. I don't think many people would deliberately try and cheat the fund - hope I'm not being naive. I think the anonymity of it is important because it protects people from any embarrassment if they can't afford it.

Myliferocks Tue 30-Apr-13 22:10:40

My DS is going on a trip with his school next month that costs £8.
The school sent out a letter asking for a voluntary contribution but also said that parents could pay in installments if they wanted too.

WhiteBirdBlueSky Tue 30-Apr-13 22:11:31

It's the parents who haven't paid you should be annoyed with, not the teachers.

McNewPants2013 Tue 30-Apr-13 22:12:46

i think the school should make sure they can afford to do the trip 100% before organising it.

then if the parents pay, this then mean the school pays less.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 30-Apr-13 22:17:48

Pants, the school has to at least begin organising it to know how much it's going to cost.

I don't believe that there are many parents that couldn't pay anything at all towards the cost of the trip. I do appreciate there may be some, but not enough to me a the trip has to be cancelled.

spottyparrot Tue 30-Apr-13 22:25:59


I think they prob told the kids to encourage the parents to make the payment. Plus, they are warning that they might not be able to go ahead - again to encourage parents to pay. They are trying everything to get people to pay.

It must be a nightmare being a teacher organising stuff like this. You can take your dd either way so don't worry. Perhaps invite the cat friend as well to make it more fun.

freemanbatch Tue 30-Apr-13 22:28:13

if the school includes a number of children who are 'poor' then they should be funded by the pupil premium for the trip and if their parents contribute that should be a bonus. Providing children with larger life and educational experiences is what he pupil premium is for.

soverylucky Tue 30-Apr-13 22:32:03

I always think with trips that if you can afford to pay you should. If you can't afford to pay the whole lot you should pay what you can afford - be that nothing, £1 or half the cost etc.
I hope your dd gets to go to the castle. I think the teachers are probably just trying to prompt people to pay.

Floggingmolly Tue 30-Apr-13 22:32:48

They cancelled because some parents refused to pay. That sounds reasonable enough to me. You seem incredibly focussed on the school being responsible for your child's disappointment, why?

musicposy Tue 30-Apr-13 22:43:42

"I find this "voluntary" payment really odd. At the schools my DC went to, there was a price (and maybe people on free school dinners could get subsidised) and if you didn't pay, your child didn't go."

Agent this would be illegal in England. Payment for trips taken mainly in school time has to be voluntary and schools have to make it clear that it is. They are not allowed to charge more to make up for parents who might not pay, either.

"i think the school should make sure they can afford to do the trip 100% before organising it."

McNew, there is not really anything in a school budget that schools can pay for trips from. Everything is allocated and set and has to be overseen by the governing finance committee and auditors. They can't just take money out for school trips, or at least that was the case for the school I was on the governing body of. They can find for the odd non-payee but they could not afford generally to fund whole class trips.

However, the PTA could raise money for trips if they wanted.

Sadly, OP, this happens a lot. But the good news is these trips usually go ahead once the parents have been cajoled a little. There will be some who intend to pay but just haven't yet and that's probably why the teacher had to make it clear that without it, the trip couldn't happen. Almost certainly those parents will pay up now and it will be fine. Try not to fret too much.

letseatgrandma Tue 30-Apr-13 22:52:29

if the school includes a number of children who are 'poor' then they should be funded by the pupil premium for the trip and if their parents contribute that should be a bonus. Providing children with larger life and educational experiences is what he pupil premium is for

Fine, but what about trips with children who who don't qualify for FSM, but whose parents just don't want to pay? For the last school trip I organised in the Autumn term for my KS1 class, 8 parents out of 30 paid. Children in the class entitled to FSM is just under 45%. The coach cost several hundred pounds alone. We have 20 classes in our primary; what do you suggest we do? Get our PTA to pay the deficit on trips for every single class?

Not go on trips? (parents will object)
Organise trips but cancel them if not enough parents pay? (parents will object)
Use the pupil premium for trips, but using it to cover the cost of parents who don't qualify for FSM (this won't last long)


freemanbatch Tue 30-Apr-13 23:00:12

I wasn't saying that was the total answer letseatgrandma just that the cost of covering children who qualify for it should be provided that way. Some of those parents will pay all or some of the cost and this could be on top of the pupil premium contribution which may make more trips viable.

That's how we've agreed to use pupil premium at our school anyway.

MidniteScribbler Tue 30-Apr-13 23:09:42

I think that parents who can't afford to put even a pound a week away for the year to contribute towards the cost of the otherwise free schooling that their children receive are few and far between. Make contributions compulsory, and those who genuinely can't afford it can apply to make up the difference somehow. One school I worked at allowed parents to work at the school (gardening, or working in the library, etc) if they couldn't pay. Amazingly, everyone managed to scrape together the $10.

tethersend Tue 30-Apr-13 23:22:50

What about children of parents who refuse to pay as they simply don't care enough about their children's education, Midnite? Why should those children miss out on a part of the curriculum? This is why all contributions are voluntary.

I'd like to see schools receive enough money to be able to make trips free for all children.

UniS Tue 30-Apr-13 23:31:15

Reading things like this I'm very thankfull that DS is at a school in walking distance of a National Trust property which has "adopted" the school, most of their "trips" are to said property , walking there and back. Next week DS will be a Victorian apprentice for a day, last time it was pond dipping and bug hunting, the time before was making clay and twig models.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 30-Apr-13 23:39:49

That's a good idea freeman, I'd like to see more schools do that.

The pupil premium is often best used in areas other than trips. Head teachers are given the freedom to spend that money in a variety of ways because they are best placed to decide where the money needs to be targeted most.

I don't think contributions for trips should be voluntary in the first place, it should be compulsory. Schools should offer the Opportunity to pay be instalments, or to have a savings fund for parents, but however they do it, parents should have to pay. They are given child benefit, they can get tax credits. It's no surprise that children cost money and that school children go on trips. There are very few reasonable excuses for not paying a tiny contribution towards your child's education.

BlackeyedSusan Tue 30-Apr-13 23:52:49

it is when there is a trip every half term, for two, or three children, plus collect for, harvest, pink day, (cost to provide something possibly) spotty day, victorian day, easter eggs for the spring fayre, discos to pay for for two children, when all their friends are going, birthday chocolates to buy... pe kit to replace because named stuff has been lost in school...

the school do not make best use of the resources they have in the grounds. they could enrich the curriculum this way first.

oh and i would much rather give time than money. i would be happy with that.

MidniteScribbler Tue 30-Apr-13 23:56:22

What about children of parents who refuse to pay as they simply don't care enough about their children's education, Midnite? Why should those children miss out on a part of the curriculum? This is why all contributions are voluntary.

If we had that issue, I'm sure that the money would very quietly be provided, either by the school, our church (school is faith based) or even the teacher putting in the contribution themselves (I would do it if it meant the difference between a child attending or not attending), but we don't have 'voluntary' contributions for the very reason that is being mentioned in this thread - parents don't see why they should have to pay if others don't. Our state based schools have an annual voluntary contributions and I know parents on over $150k who refuse to pay it "because I pay tax so why should I pay anything". At our school, you either pay or you find a way to make it up to the school.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 30-Apr-13 23:58:20

I'd be delighted if my children's schools arranged trips every half term!

It's not as if these things don't benefit the children, teachers don't organise trips for no reason.

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