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Would you let your 15 year old go on a day trip to London alone?

(207 Posts)
Comefromaway Sun 24-Feb-19 20:31:02

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!

Ihavealwaysknown Wed 27-Feb-19 00:24:51

School safeguarding lead was having a quiet day 🙄

Sounds as thought OP’s DS was getting all the figures together to show his parents and then getting on with it. I’m pretty sure @onthenaughtystepagain this is one of the (very few) occasions no one would have blamed the school if he had gone. As a teacher you hear a lot of stories about things students are going to do (and never do!)

onthenaughtystepagain Tue 26-Feb-19 23:31:31

If the school didn't phone you, your son had gone without your knowledge and got into some difficulty the school would have been pilloried for lack of care. They really can't win!

Jaxhog Mon 25-Feb-19 19:14:29

Mind you, I also used to take my little sister to primary school by 2 buses from the age of about 9.

Jaxhog Mon 25-Feb-19 19:12:25

I recall going up to London with my friend, and no adults, from the age of 11 or 12. It was a 20 minute train ride to get there. We used to ride around on the tube or look at the parks. None of our parents seemd to mind. It WAS a long time ago. Has London got more dodgy in the last 40 years?

If he's a responsible 15 year old, which he sounds like, he should be fine. Might be better if he went with a friend though.

Comefromaway Mon 25-Feb-19 19:07:19

For another thing central London is chock full of sign posts and You Are Here maps. They are everywhere.

Mistigri Mon 25-Feb-19 19:05:57

Our group of four got completely lost ... we were 15-16 at the time - stupid bloody woman!

My kids have always been allowed to go off in groups during school trips, from early teens. The shocking thing here is not that you were allowed to go off but that a group of normally intelligent 15-16 year olds couldn't find their way or ask for directions.

This debate is very British - in other European countries I don't think anyone would question the ability of a 15 year old to catch a train to a city in the daytime, watch a show and return home in time for bed.

SleepingStandingUp Mon 25-Feb-19 17:23:36

@VietnameseCrispyFish being able to plan it etc is one thing. We used to do stuff like that for hhomeowkr projects - geography, maths etc. Of course they should be able to write an itinery and book tickets etc.

That's totally different to travelling 170 miles on their own to a place where they know no one and no one is meeting them and expecting at 14 that they will be able to deal with
* cancelled trains - alternative routes with multiple changes, possible hours of waiting in the cold or ending up at a dead end if a train is missed without a card to just shove an expensive taxi or hotel on. Its unlikely a hotel would even take a booking for a 14 yo on their own.
* a terrosit attack or threat. All of the above in top of all the panic of an attack
* losing their wallet / phone / tickets or having them stolen. Yes you can suggest the basic answer of glfinding a police man and telling him but teenage ego and logic aren't always compatible.

Perhaps I'm out of touch and everyone's teens regularly travel around the country alone to spend the day alone. I'll accept that.
I traveled an hour to school across our town from 11 alone and I went to a couple of day schools from the Midlands to Oxford and London at about 16, so travelling alone to an organised meeting point. I moved away to Uni at 18 so I'm not suggesting that kids should be kept in baby reins til they're 18

Comefromaway Mon 25-Feb-19 16:59:18

I would expect to be given an area to be confined to eg Covent Garden but I wouldn’t expect a group of 15-16 year olds to get totally lost.

AnnaComnena Mon 25-Feb-19 16:34:26

When I was at school we went by school coach to see a west end show. We got there really early so our stupid teacher said 'go have a look around for 45 mins and come back

Our group of four got completely lost ... we were 15-16 at the time - stupid bloody woman!

Why is it stupid to assume that a group of 15/16 yos is capable of asking for directions if they get lost? Or indeed, capable of not getting lost in the first place?

Justanotheruser01 Mon 25-Feb-19 16:14:23

One thing came to mind here - are you sure hes not planning on meeting somebody?

VietnameseCrispyFish Mon 25-Feb-19 14:20:36

don't think most 14 yo's travel 170 miles across country in their own to meet no one at the other end. Even if they wanted to, many kids simply wouldn't have the funds to do so - day return from say Liverpool to Manchester plus food let alone theatre ticket. Implying that a child is someone behind the curve of lacking because they aren't financially able to do this is ridiculous, as is the other assertions that kids who aren't regularly traveling cross country will struggle later in life!

Yes, but being unable to due to not affording it doesn’t mean they’re incapable, does it? If a kid lacks the necessary skills to be able to book a train or coach ticket to an event, get there, stay alive and get back again when they’re a year away from leaving secondary school i’d say that is certainly behind the curve and a bit concerning/maybe indicative of something else going on (MH issues such as anxiety for example would make that tough for some kids).

I’m only in my early thirties but at 15 pretty much every friend I knew had done stuff like this, I certainly was going off to gigs in other cities on my own from 13, sometimes meeting up with friends while there but sometimes not. And we weren’t in a wealthy area before you bring that in. If a fifteen year old was given a bit of cash as a gift or saved up from pocket money or paper rounds and it wasn’t within their skill set to be able to do something like this that’d be really odd at 15. And for the kids who could never afford that, if they were incapable of booking a travel ticket and going a few towns or cities over for something that meant a lot to them it’d be strange, but not having the funds doesn’t mean they’d be unable to.

ineedtostopbeingsolazy Mon 25-Feb-19 14:07:24

I grew up in London and went out on my own practically every day at 15 and younger , but I wouldn't like my dc to walk around London on their own, no idea why because if we lived there that's what they'd be doing.

flyingplum Mon 25-Feb-19 12:38:45

heh heh - no, he knew smile my grandma used to drop me at the airport and then I would do the rest on my own (and he'd pick me up the other end). The first time I did it, i did it as an unaccompanied minor, but airlines only insist on this if you're under 13, so after I'd done it once, i insisted I be allowed to do it on my own. A lot of my contemporaries from primary school in Bda were doing that for school, so i didn't want to be the only one that was being babied!

and yes, I guess it's the fact that OP's son hadn't told her that would be the worrying thing, and I think it's good on that basis that the school flagged it. But she seems fairly certain that he was going to tell her before he went, and she knows him best.

SleepingStandingUp Mon 25-Feb-19 12:38:43

Abra1de
Often let my two do this at 15
Well there's two of them as a start. How far from London are you?

I’d be concerned if a kid made it to that age without being able to do that tbh! I don't think most 14 yo's travel 170 miles across country in their own to meet no one at the other end. Even if they wanted to, many kids simply wouldn't have the funds to do so - day return from say Liverpool to Manchester plus food let alone theatre ticket. Implying that a child is someone behind the curve of lacking because they aren't financially able to do this is ridiculous, as is the other assertions that kids who aren't regularly traveling cross country will struggle later in life!

I certainly never did it at those ages and went off to uni at 18, on holiday alone at the end of Uni and up and down the country travelling for volunteer work on my own ever since.

Clavinova Mon 25-Feb-19 12:25:44

I used to travel backwards and forwards between the UK and Bermuda to see my dad in school holidays at that age

I expect your dad knew you were coming - or did you surprise him? grin.

I have to sign off now as well.

Clavinova Mon 25-Feb-19 12:23:20

He has now found a friend from his theatre group who also wants to see the show so they are planning a trip in July 2020 (post GCSE's) as it gives his friend time to save and they will both be the correct age for the theatre.

"Well, that's pretty neat!" wink

Comefromaway Mon 25-Feb-19 12:15:09

Anyway folks I;m at work so had better sign off.

Hasa Diga Eebowi

Comefromaway Mon 25-Feb-19 12:13:43

I answered that one ages ago.

He was planning on seeing it by himself becasue he knows that dh and I have already seen it so we won't go again to the London production as its a lot of money and there are umpteen other shows we want to see.

He has now found a friend from his theratre group who also wants to see the show so they are planning a trip in July 2020 (post GCSE's) as it gives his friend time to save and they will both be the correct age for the theatre.

flyingplum Mon 25-Feb-19 12:13:28

If they go down to London a lot, @Clavinova, then London probably doesn't feel like 'far' - it's just normal. Plus, once you're on the train, there's not a huge amount that can happen. a train is a train...doesn't really matter how long the distance or time is. And if he really loves musical theatre, then London is the obvious place to want to go. I think it's a bit of a shame he was going on his own, but if none of his mates could afford to go with him, then it probably seemed logical. Plus, it's an adventure, and teenagers like a bit of adventure. I used to travel backwards and forwards between the UK and Bermuda to see my dad in school holidays at that age (and slightly younger, actually) on my own, and felt ever so grown up doing it.

Clavinova Mon 25-Feb-19 12:09:59

Why be so nasty about a child?

I'm not being nasty.
And why is a child planning to see The Book of Mormon by himself - 170 miles away.

VietnameseCrispyFish Mon 25-Feb-19 12:08:07

I’d be concerned if a kid made it to that age without being able to do that tbh! Wtf school?

Clavinova Mon 25-Feb-19 12:06:21

As for out computer set up at home
Sounds impressive - yet your ds' teachers don't know who he's talking to online.

Odd, quirky, whatever.
Which is probably why the school contacted you - do they think he's a little socially unaware for his age?

flyingplum Mon 25-Feb-19 12:04:43

Aww, bless him. If it wasn't a) a bit weird and b) I was more frequently in London, I'd offer to take him for you. Love the BoM, it's brilliant (and definitely right up the street for 15yo boy humour!).

Comefromaway Mon 25-Feb-19 12:02:07

The moment I told him of the theatre age policy he was dispointed but didn't try and come up wioth any alternative etc. Which also points towards the theatre show being the main focus of his day.

(If anyone was at Tottenham Court Road tube over the weekend bythe way ds was the kid playing Madness & Hamilton on the public access piano)

IncrediblySadToo Mon 25-Feb-19 12:01:55

Clarinova. That’s REALY rude. Why be so nasty about a child?

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