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Teachers - if you book a school visit, please have the decency to either turn up or cancel in good time.

(9 Posts)
UndercoverWorker Tue 04-Oct-11 10:55:04

I am so annoyed, I have to get this out somewhere even though I know that none of the teachers on here would be so selfish as to do this.

I work in a museum. We are poor but happy in our work and fight the coporate part of the institution hard for the staff and space to be able to teach schoolchildren. This is constantly under threat and we are constantly having to justify our existence.

Three times this week alone we have had schools not bother to turn up for teaching sessions that they have booked. So I have educators who are frustrated and now have no one to teach. They need paying and the school will query the invoice although it is clearly stated that they are liable for the cost. Most importantly, the schools that we have had to turn away because we are fully booked have been disappointed for no reason.

This happens all the time but is getting more and more frequent. So if you book a visit anywhere, please please check your email and junk folder for the confirmation and if nothing appears, be proactive and get in touch with the institution in question. We send out the emails, we have to assume that they are read. We have not got the resources to chase every teacher to make sure. If you cannot make the visit, please cancel it and let someone else have the space or turn bloody up.

Thank you.

mummytime Tue 04-Oct-11 11:17:27

Can't you take payment (or part payment) in advance? I would certainly make them pay a non-refundable deposit. Because lets be honest if they were coming they would have done a lot of planning.
Occasionally my kids school does a last minute trip, but these are usually because they are asked because someone else has cancelled.

racingheart Tue 04-Oct-11 14:35:34

I find this really unbelievable. Our school books museum visits months in advance and they are fixtures on the school calendar. How frustrating for you and what a waste. It's possible, I suppose that they either didn't get enough voluntary contributions to cover the cost (even though they'll have to pay it anyway!) or that parent helpers didn't turn up meaning they legally can't take an entire class out of school as the ratio of adults to pupils is wrong. But they could phone to let you know.

Feenie Tue 04-Oct-11 17:53:56

That's shocking - and so rude! Surely they would have a coach booked too? Bet the coach company would bill them anyway.

Hulababy Tue 04-Oct-11 18:00:19

Have never known this to happen in any of the schools I have worked at. We are pretty good generally.

What a nightmare for you for this to be happening so often sad

Could you have a system where you take a deposit at the very least for the sessions? That way the schools are more likely to be following the visit correspondence up.

Also could you sent your email up so that you know if an email has been recieved and/or read? That way you'd have some come back if schools say they didn't get the email - esp if you take a deposit too.

Saracen Thu 06-Oct-11 04:35:44

Some institutions require a booking fee even when they are offering the session for free. The money is refunded if the group turns up.

Also some places require prospective visitors to confirm that they want the place, rather than that they don't want the place if you see what I mean. Like this: "We are offering you the opportunity to visit on xx date. This is not yet a confirmed booking. If you would like to accept this offer, please respond within two weeks. We will then send you a confirmation letter with full details of times etc. Your place is not confirmed until you have received this letter. Please contact us if you do not receive your confirmation letter within five working days of accepting the place."

hocuspontas Thu 06-Oct-11 17:20:07

Please don't rely on emails! This is obviously important to you so you need to speak to the schools and insist on a follow up email/letter and a deposit to confirm. Emails get deleted by mistake, especially if the subject line doesn't specify the right person. And agree, your terms should be that unless confirmed by a certain date then your 'contract' with them lapses.

UndercoverWorker Thu 06-Oct-11 17:43:54

Sorry for not replying sooner. I have to remember to name change and I'm always too involved in a bunfight to take time out! blush

Re the email vs speaking to teachers, we used to do it all by phone up till a year ago. And it was no better, not at all. The new, online plus email system was implemented last year with a change of line manager. I didn't agree with it, having worked there for many years under the old system but it was implemented nonetheless. At the very least now we have a communication trail which we can use in our defence. Before it was all deny all knowledge and claim you spoke to so and so in some unconnected part of the museum who told you x, y and z. We do have a read/receipt set up on our email but it's not foolproof as we have found. We were pinning a lot of hopes on that...

We also deal with far too many schools to have the time or staff to chase them all up. We get hundreds of bookings a week (small admin team but national museum, big but skint!). We are looking at text reminders, like the dentist sends out but again, it's money and we're not sure it would make enough difference to be worthwhile.

As far as deposits go, again, it's the workload it would create, plus the fact that a lot of teachers still don't have access to a school credit card (so they say) and would have to be invoiced instead. Then they simply don't pay the invoice. We've not long been charging for any of our sessions at all, they used to be free and I though this would get better when they started having to pay for it. People always seem to value things that cost them more than free things, even if it's the same thing!

So I don't know what the answer is. But thank you for letting me rant and for your thoughts. We used to have teachers in tears on the phone because they weren't able to get the session they really wanted and it's so frustrating for that to be for nothing.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 06-Oct-11 17:46:18

speaking from DH's experience of bookings with schools,
some teachers are TERRIBLE about arranging stuff through their hotmail accounts and then not actually getting school permission for the trip.
We now cc ALL confirmations to the school's admin office email (usually on their web sites) - takes a few minutes to fine but saves LOADS of hassle.
It has also highlighted two cases where payment permission had not been cleared by junior teachers. Sorted in time. Phew

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