Would you let your 15 year old go on a day trip to London alone?(207 Posts)
Just before he broke up for half term I had a phone call from ds’s school. His head of year was very concerned because he’d told a member of staff that he was planning to spend his birthday money going to London on a train to watch a West End show!
I of course made all the right noises, promised to speak to him. Explained that we were actually planning a family West End trip and we go approx once or twice a year. The head of year said he’d told her he’d been in London alone before and they were concerned. I assured her that had never been the case. (Turned our he meant last year when dd and dh went to get sushi, I went to a jacket potato place and he went to Burger King in Leicester Square and we met up 15 mins later outside the Lego shop.
So I spoke to ds and it turns out he was serious. He said yes I was going to tell you. I’ve done the maths worked out how much the train and tube will cost I looked up the price of tickets for the Saturday matinee and I have enough left over for lunch at Bella in Leicester Square at 12.30 before the show starts at 2.30. I was quite impressed to be honest. However I pointed out that pretty much all West End theatres have a no unaccompanied children under 16 policy (and he looks young for his age)
But AIBU to think there are worse things a 15 year old could plan? The school was treating going to London like it was Syria or somewhere!
The upshot is that he is going to post phone his trip until after his 16th birthday next year!
I find it odd that the school would be so worried about a 15 year old going to London alone. Unless you live in the outer Hebrides, most 15 year olds should be capable of getting themselves into a city and back on a train.
However I don’t understand why he’d want to go alone? I went off on trips into London with my mates at that age - we lived about an hour away on the train.
I grew up in London ds isn't 15 yet. But has travelled to and around London alone or with his 12/13/16 year old cousins for the last 2 years.
My daughter and a friend went when they were 15. Not sure she’d want to go alone though.
My DD did this lots of times at 15, although we only live a 30 minute train ride away. I am surprised school were so concerned.
YANBU. I grew up in London and we would go into town on our own without a second thought at 15. I wouldn't have been allowed on my own at night but during the day no problem.
I don't know the right answer but the have a 15 year old who has asked recently to do a similar thing ( although he wanted to go to the British museum by himself on an inset day). I wasn't too fussed by DH felt uncomfortable in the end so we said no for now. I'm actually super proud that he feels confident enough to go and do his own thing..... I'm sure 15year olds and younger who live in London travel on the tube by themselves every day with safeguarding referrals and phone calls to parents by schools
Whereabouts are you in the country? We're in Suffolk and "that there" London is considered a very scary place by 50% of the population..... In fact I know lots that have never been.
Fine with me. You should point out to school that London is full of 15 yr olds who live there without being eaten by wolves.
Think it's fine if DS wants to go without a mate. I wouldn't have had the confidence when I was his age I would worry about what people thought but if he's more of an introvert and likes time to himself then good for him.
Not a problem. I went on the bus to Paris for a week with a friend when I was 15! It was fun trying to navigate my way from Kings Cross to Victoria but we made it. Just.
Really flabbergasted that his school rang you up and spoke to you about this.
What an overreaction from the school! I mean, im suprised he wants to go completly alone- id have expected he would want to go with some mates but i cant imagine why not let him? (Except the theatre under 16 policy)
My dd's 16 and I'd be impressed if she was organized enough to work out the prices and timings herself like your ds has done. He seems very sensible and if he was hoping to go to a matinee then he wouldn't be getting a late train back which would be my only worry at that age.
If he's familiar with London and confident about finding his way around (which he seems to be) then I can't see any problem - apart from the theatres being unlikely to admit him on his own.
We live in Sussex and dd's been to London with me loads of times. I'd would have let her go without an adult at 15, but would prefer her to go with a friend rather than on her own, just in case something unexpected went wrong.
However I don’t understand why he’d want to go alone? I went off on trips into London with my mates at that age - we lived about an hour away on the train.
He’s got a friend from his theatre group who he says he’s planning to go with next year as they can save up. But many of his school friends have never a professional theatre show and he knows most couldn’t have afforded his planned trip.
Its 1.5 hours on the fast train 2.5 hours on the slow train.
I went to Wembley to see Gun’s and Roses with a couple of mates when I was 16. We now live in London and I see plenty of 14-15 year olds out and about in town unaccompanied.
I grew up in London so this would hold no fears for me. I'm very surprised the school phoned you!
His birthday was 2 weeks ago. That’s why he had the money.
We are in the North West.
I grew up in Essex about a fifteen minute drive or half an hour bus journey from a zone six tube. I was often in and out of London at that age, with friends and alone to shop etc. The school are massively over reacting . He's going to the west end, not a sink hole estate in East London
I would allow this, he sounds very sensible, presumably has a mobile phone so he can contact you in an emergency? I would let him go but ask him to text me when he arrived in London, and text me again when leaving so I knew he had got on the train ok and there weren’t any delays to expect.
I used to go to London on my own from when I was fifteen. I grew up only half an hour away on the train, was accustomed to being taken there by parents, and was confident about finding my way around, using the Tube and so on.
As pp said, unless you live hundreds of miles away, a day in London, or other big city, seems an entirely age appropriate thing for a fifteen yo to do. A refreshing change from the 18yos one reads about here who have never taken a bus or train alone.
Your son sounds very sensible, pricing everything up like that.
I grew up 30 miles from London, and from the age of 14 or so would regularly get the train into London with friends. We'd just go and hang around Oxford Street mainly, and felt so grown up
From the age of 15/16, I was assembling a load of second hand clothes I'd got from jumble sales every weekend, packing them in a suitcase and getting the train into London on my own to fly pitch them at Camden Lock. If I was lucky, I'd make my train fare. God, I loved it.
It's fairly difficult to fall in with bad company and get dragged into a den of iniquity on a day trip to London.
It took me years of sustained effort
15 y old dc went on her own, 1 hour by train. Same reason, to see a West End show. No problems at all
I grew up in the South East, if we wanted to do pretty much anything in my little commuter town we had to go into London! I was definitely heading into London with friends at 15, probably didn't do it by myself until a little later (but had no need to, really. The point was to hang out with friends in Camden...)
I grew about an hour from London, it was very normal to go on a day trip there from about 12. 15 is absolutely fine!
To be fair we do live about 170 miles away!
My concern would be what to do if there was a major problem on the trains. If that happened to me I’d book a hotel. He said he’d find a member of station staff or British transport police and ask for help.
Missing the point entirely really but how long does it take on a coach and would it be direct?
They are maybe less prone to delays and cancellations
I can remember going on a v exciting day trip to another city quite far away with my best friend at 15/16 but we were delayed for hours coming back due to some bridge problem or other and no mobile phones so our parents were frantic!
He said he’d find a member of station staff or British transport police and ask for help.
He sounds as if he's thought it all out. And if there was a problem, the absolute worst that's likely to happen would be him spending several hours at Euston (?) with a lot of frustrated commuters, while the train company sorts things out.
He sounds very sensible and mature for his age. I think the school have really over-reacted to the whole situation. He's 15 not 5.
Not sure about a coach. Driving is about 3 hours. The coach would go into Victoria I guess.
Him and Dh did suffer big delays once coming back from an event at Wembley when there was a fatality on the track. They arrived back at 11pm instead of 8pm a friend on a later train with her 5 year old was stuck for hours at Euston and got back early hours of the morning.
It’s quite funny you allthink he sounds very mature as he’s quite young & immature for his age in many ways. But theatre is his obsession (well to be honest it’s a family obsession) and he can be quite determinedin that aspect!
I can't believe the school called you about that! How mad.
As long as you run through contingency plans and he has a backup battery pack for his phone and a bank card he can use in an emergency then why the fuck not?
I don’t think it’s particularly odd for him to want to do, but I can see why the school panicked. Quite a few children “disappear” even temporarily from home doing these sorts of things that they probably felt a duty to let you know in case it was a runaway attempt etc. when afterwards people would point at the teacher and query why nothing was raised.
If you live in or around London it's no big deal but I suppose to anyone in the rest of the country it sounds risky. Between the tube and buses transport around London is great. Two of my DGS have been going to meet up with friends all over London since they were 13. The school involvement sounds bizarre.
Good for him! He sounds like he’s planned well and will be sensible. Let him go, he will rightly feel very proud of himself.
I sent my DC age 14/12 by train to another city 1 hour away from ours this half term in order to see an exhibition at a museum. They managed just fine despite the museum initially refusing them entry telling them the exhibition was 16 plus. They explained that they’d come from our city and had come up for the day and negotiated their way in. Was good for them.
I went to the theatre with my friend in London by ourselves (very similar trip). We went to the theatre, parks, hamleys, enjoyed the tube and had a fab time. Didn't have mobile phones then so think I called my parents from paddington using my charge card to say I was on the way home. I think it is very odd the school called you!
I’d much rather get the Virgin train from Manchester to London than some of the local trains and trams
Give him some spare cash to stash and a power pack for when his phone battery runs and and he'll be fine.
He'll prob get a great seat at the theatre because he’s a single seat.
My DC have grown up in London however only started going solo when they were around 12. My DD is 15 and regularly heads into the city. Its actually quite easy to get around. You can walk to most places and as most kids have phones can use there maps. Think the school were being OTT
I went to London alone from 13 or so, teenagers do live in London ! Unless you live so far that necessitates an overnight stay I don't see the problem, dd certainly went at 16 to auditions and we live in another city.
I think it’s a lovely thing for him to do.
I was going to London by myself at that age! Pre-mobile phones too.
If you’re in the NW would he come into Euston by train? I’ve travelled by train between central London and NW for the last 20 years. The only big problems have been one I got out of the train in Carlisle!
I would NOT do a coach if he’s traveling that far. They are soulless and awful and just, NO! I know the train is massively expensive but if he gets a rail card that will reduce costs. For the first time he does it I’d suggest he gets a rail ticket that is totally transferable, even if it’s more expensive. That gives him more leeway if things don’t go to plan.
Contrary to popular opinion most Londoners are friendly enough!
Blimey, I can’t believe the school called to voice concerns. My dd was jumping on planes like they were buses by herself when she was 15. Always with my knowledge and permission and without issue.
He sounds very sensible. The school sound like they are overstepping imo
Ps my kids use the coach mostly, and have my credit card linked to Uber in case they need to get one to meet their coach or get home late at night - it's also worth getting them an Oyster card as most teenagers debit cards aren't contactless.
Sounds fine to me (although I wouldn't have enjoyed it alone at that age. I would now!)
Do you know someone in London whose number he can have in his phone, and who can be aware that he's in town that day?
Oh yes, look into an Oyster Zip card. That would show his age so he could use it to prove he is 16. You do it online and then the school signs something?
I'd let my 15 year old do it. With a friend. And a phone. Having talked through the itinerary first, and agreed the time of train back - ie. not just hanging around late in the evening.
My 16 year old recently went to a concert at the O2 with a small group of friends from here. She also spent a whole weekend (2 nights) in Bath with a friend, travelling by train and staying a youth hostel.
I find it very odd that the school would be so concerned.
At that age my friends' would drive us to London and leave us there for the day while he did work things. And I'd managed to take a plane to Bordeaux changing in Paris so can't see the travel issue, assuming he's a competent type.
Unless he's getting a very late train back I wouldn't worry - the worst that will happen would be that he's stuck on an awful rail replacement service or he has to cram onto a packed later train with no seats.
As someone who grew up in a boring time outside London, I frequently took the train into London by myself from the age of 13/14, to go to museums/art galleries at what not.
I can't imagine why the head of year was so concerned, unless they are one of those people who never leaves the village they grew up in.
Given that they have done the journey with an adult before I'd say its absolutely fine, on the proviso that keeps in phone contact and has cash for emergency.
I wonder how the HoY thinks children in London cope with having to get to school etc.
All sounds very well planned and civilized...at that age, I was sneaking into nightclubs in London, downing shots and walking home barefoot!
I think it's fine...the only thing I'd be concerned about it how far away it is from home...but he sounds pretty sensible.
Also I'm totally confused as to why the school contacted you.
Crackofdoom - I could imagine ds trying to make his train fayre busking (he asked one of the buskers at Euston yesterday how they got their pitch!)
I find it utterly bizarre hat the school called you about it.
At least he’s not causing havoc round Sainsbury’s (as was reported in the local paper the other week with kids from his school)
Dying to know what show he was planning to see!
I live in the north west, when I was 14 or 15 I got the train from Preston to London for the day, went to Camden market, covent garden, Oxford Street and came home again, all agreed by my parents and I had a lovely time.
They didn't let my sister go at the same age, but she has zero common sense!
Why would the school be worried ? Honestly don’t understand. I used to get a bus into and back from central London from outer suburb every weekend from around 12ish. It might be a little odd that he didn’t plan this with a friend ? But frankly each to their own. Enterprising to budget save and sort out lunch even !!
Kids are funny/great sometimes !
Hmm - well let’s just say that his choice of show is not the most appropriate (though we are all seeing it on tour in Manchester later in the year. )
Yesterday we all went to Gander. He was planning to go to Uganda if you know what I mean!
He said he knew none of his friends would be able to afford to go with him this year.
The school called?! Wow. My 11 year old will be making her way across London on her own in the morning to get to school... an hour by tube and bus there and then the reverse on the way home.
Your son sounds very clued up - impressive planning on his part! I hope he has fun if he goes this year or next - 170 miles out of London is very different to being on the doorstep.
How utterly bizarre that the school have contacted you. My nephew is heavily involved in musical theatre, and was regularly travelling alone from Glasgow to London from the age of 14 to attend auditions. His school didn't bat an eyelid.
Similarly, a friend's dd used to fly to New York from Heathrow from the age of 15 to visit her father in school holidays. Nobody was bothered in the slightest.
When I lived in Sussex, my dd used to go to London from about 13/14 for the day, just to hang out in Camden or Covent Garden - usually with some friends, but did it alone a couple of times. I genuinely can't see the issue, and it wasn't something her school got involved with.
Why on earth would your ds's school be voicing an opinion on this?
Good lord. I used to get the train into London from when I was about 13. I'd pop my headphones on and spend the weekends pottering around in my own visiting museums etc and different areas of London. Granted that his journey in will be longer than mine was, I'd be impressed by his planning and confidence.
And I was way happier to do things on my own than with others. Still am. Not everyone needs a gang of people to accompany them every time they step out of the house.
I’d be more worried about the parochial attitude of the head of year. How do they think London kids get around and to school from age 11! And he’s 15! Heavens.
I used to go see my boyfriend- now husband from Manchester to London aged 15
DS and a couple of mates travelled from the Midlands to London at 15 to watch their football team play at Wembley. They got the train, then sussed out tubes and went into central London for a bit of sightseeing before the game. It didn't bother me, DS knows his way round the centre of London roughly because I work there and he has come to meet me from work with DH before, but even if he hadn't done that, he is a sensible lad and I trust him.
It all depends on how mature your 15 year old is, really.
I wonder if the school think he's met someone online? Do they think he might be gay?
DD 11 lives in London and goes all over the place.
If Euston grinds to a complete halt, don't hang around there waiting for something to happen. He can get a train to Birmingham from Marylebone (best option for connections to North West) or to Sheffield (change for Manchester) from St.Pancras. When there is severe disruption tickets are accepted on other companies and routes.
I toured the UK alone at 15 for a week using an All Line Railrover only spending 1 night (out of six) at home. The price would have doubled on my 16th Birthday.
I suspect s hook have called be ause it's 170 miles away so if there is an issue, you are hours away from being able to help.
I imagine if he was heading into Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds etc they'd be less
I think deferring it for a year is a good plan. Also, no idea what show but you implied it was old for him? Check the age he Nedd to be to go in alone even next year.
Dh and I used to work in Birmingham and we also visit there regularly but Ds doesn’t know his way around Snow Hill to New Street That well.
I'd be ok about it (well, with one of my children, perhaps less so with the other two) and I live in Devon.
He will be fine. I was a short 11 year old catching a bus into central London to school everyday by myself. Not that long ago. We went all over London at that age.
Seems like an overreaction from the school. I took my first lone flight at 15. I'd been on day trips to London 3 or 4 times before age 16 I think.
Actually the 170 miles has sunk in a little.
From full on astoundment at school calling I now think a very light touch ‘just checking you know’ type call makes a bit of sense to me. Lots of us are describing travelling in and around and to London younger than 15 when we were a lot closer/did it routinely - yes before mobiles).
But it doesn’t sound as if this was the tenor of the call at all. So I remain surprised the school was worried once you had kind of expressed no concern yourself.
Yesican imagine they were worried he was going to become a missing child. But fib he was going to run away he wouldn’t tell a teacher his exact itinerary in advance would he🤔
I did laugh and think WTAF at first, but...
I guess when you live 170 miles away, a 14/15 yo doing a solo trip to London is probably a bit worrying to you if you rarely go outside your own little village and the news about teen knife crime etc in London is pretty shocking.
At least the school gives a damn about their students.
Plus, all hell would break out if the teachers knew but hadn’t said anything and a kid went missing.
Would I let him?...
...so, I guess somewhere in there I’d have to be fine with them doing it and given he’s got a plan other than just roaming about I’d let him go in the summer holidays.
Hmm. If he's an astute, mature 15 yes, fine. I'm in London & it's scary how predatory men are to my neighbours 15year old daughter. We had to have a chat that people's motives might not be friendly. Recently, 28 Yr old builder, a mid 30's hairdresser, early 40's guy at bus stop all very actively made friendly (that then turned sexual) overtures. She's v street savvy on most stuff until it comes to men, then she gets flattered: & caution/logic goes out the window.
Your son has great taste in musicals !
But if it’s Book Of Mormon he’s planning to see I don’t think they’d allow unaccompanied under 16s in- the language In it! *clutches pearls
With new ‘safeguarding’ requirements and training I think there will be a lot more of this kind of reaction to things which is not all a bad thing.
I put ‘safeguarding’ In inverted cos it’s a very particular phrase from the family and criminal Barband is wholly misused and misunderstood by many and some media etc. Misunderstanding causes more difficulty in the area.
Actually I just had a look to see if BoM* is touring soon and apparently it’s playing in Manchester from June! Would that work out for him?
*assuming that’s what it is from the Ugandan comment.
I used to go on day trips to London on my own from 12 yrs old and I was living in London on my own from 16*. It's ludicrous that the school are concerned about an NT 15 year old going to London alone.
As for Clavinova's post, words fail me.
*Just for info, my parents lived on the south coast and I had very little contact with them once I left home at 16.
No they don’t allow unaccompanied under 16’s in Lafayette (they don’t in most West End Theatres).
We saw Hamilton last year along with Phantom, Jamie & Dreamgirls. Then this year has been 42nd Street (just before it closed and yesterday Come From Away.
We’ve already got tickets for Manchester. He said he wanted to compare the London & touring productions. Dh and I saw it alone several years ago when the kids were too young.
I am glad the school care. It is on an area where people tend never to move away and everyone knows everyone.
Your son sounds like he's got it all figured out and sounds like he's got his head on right. It sounds like a fantastic time to be had and very exciting to me now at 42 never mind his age
At his age and younger I was regularly getting the coach or train to Norfolk from Manchester and off to festivals. At 16 I went to Norfolk then on to Cornwall with my then boyfriend for 2 weeks camping. Christ knows how I talked my parents into that one. No way I'd let my daughter do the same in 4 years time.
Fucking terrorists have scared me so much I won't go to London or Manchester anymore. I live near Manchester and won't go in. Love London but never seen much of it as only visited a few times. Wish I didn't have the fear as so much I'd like to see but I'm all my son has and won't take any unnecessary risks now. I know people will say I'm letting them win and I could get killed crossing the road etc but to me any risk I don't have to take is unnecessary. Being a single parent has changed me a great deal, especially since the London attacks and Manchester arena bomb.
Oh to be young and carefree again! I hope your son has a fantastic time
When I was 16 and my friend 15 we got on a coach (to be fair it was an organised trip I booked at WHSmith Travel) to London to see the then new production of Miss Saigon. It was in the middle of all the IRA stuff.
My parents were nervous we had no mobile phones just an A-Z map of London and we had a great time arriving home in the early hours of the morning.
I grew up in London so no idea why it's such a big deal
This is the case I was thinking of;
Perhaps the school are worried he's planning to meet someone in London? He might have made a 15 year old friend online who turns out to be 30. On the recent BBC2 documentary series School - a 15 year old boy had signed himself up to Tinder to meet a boyfriend.
I think the school did the right thing in phoning you.
My eldest dc aged 16 goes into London all the time - with friends.
Unfortunately I don't find it odd that the school are concerned. I don't see anything too wrong in it. It depends how far you are from London, but some of my DDs friends were doing this at 14/15, though in groups. They were just as organised & were fine.
Your DSs trip might be innocent, but unfortunately there are unscrupulous people using kids to run around on trains carrying drugs. A friends 14yo DS was targeted & frightened by heavies & gad knows what into skipping school & drug running. He was arrested on a train with a large amount of cocaine & it's been all hell let loose since then. He's a good kid, if anyone had asked me which of our friends kids might get involved with something like that, he would have been the very last one I would expect.
I'm sure the school are aware of this sort of stuff, hence their concern
For those who grew up in or near London and think its fine cos you did it...
OP lives 170 miles away. And I suspect that the number of kids being stabbed in London laty is higher than when yo u were younger.
I do have full access to all his social media and I can track his phone.
Yep I'd let him.
My d's used to go so the time at that age and went to London pride at 16 with his school lgbt club (no teachers, a student only thing) . We live around 50 mins away by fast train.
It's easy to get around, lots to see etc.
School are being ott.
And I suspect that the number of kids being stabbed in London lately is higher than when yo u were younger.
I'm guessing you don't know London too well...
OP's son is going to the theatre - the West End. Full of tourists and one of the richest areas in London. That's not where the stabbings happen.
The stabbings happen in poorer, residential areas, like Lambeth and Newham. OP's son won't be going anywhere near them.
Yes I would. I grew up in the ‘burbs and regularly got the bus then tube to Camden, this was from age about 12. It was awesome. I didn’t often do it alone at that age but by 14/15 I certainly was.
I now live 200-odd miles away. My kids are too young at the moment but I wouldn’t be worried about them going at 15. While it’s true we’re much further away and I’ve heard a lot about stabbings that I don’t recall from my youth, they’ll also have mobiles and be contactable and are much more cautious than I ever was. My mum just got told ‘I’m going to London see you later’ and I’d reverse call if I thought I’d be later than expected!
What the hell business is it of the schools?!
My dd was going to glasgow herself/with friends same age at 14/15 on the train to go shopping/cinema/museums etc perfectly normal thing imo and I'd be more concerned at a person this age who COULDN'T organise such a trip.
Geez my generation left school at 16 and went to work full time commuting daily into cities, I have friends who went inter-railing across Europe at that age ffs! I was living in the south at that age and regularly going to London for the day either alone or with similarly aged friends.
My Parents were 14 when they left school and did similar.
Why are they infantilising young people and why do they feel they have the right to question the parents? I'd have told them it was none of their damn business!
"To be fair we do live about 170 miles away!" So 2.5/3 hours by train ? I still don't see a problem. I was going to glasgow from south of England myself to see family at 15/16.
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