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'Optional' extra curricular trips during term time that cost £100s and only have limited places - is this OK?

(50 Posts)
Q0FE Thu 25-Jun-15 17:09:02

DDs secondary school (in Wales if this makes makes a difference) organises trips, during term time, with limited places and at a cost of several hundred pounds. Obviously only a few children get to go and the rest have to stay and do lessons as normal.

I'm curious as to why this is allowed. Presumably the trips are not considered essential to the curriculum (the one coming up next is an adventure holiday) because if they were then surely all children should have the opportunity to go (I understand that to be the legal position anyway). So... how do schools square it that some children can miss a weeks lessons for a holiday but the rest can't?

insanityscatching Thu 25-Jun-15 17:21:01

Dd is going on a residential trip to London to see the sights and catch a couple of West End shows. Places were offered to selected students as a reward for effort and achievement in Music this year.The trip is heavily subsidised by the music department.
She's also been offered a place on the Science reward trip too although that isn't residential. Dd's year seven so knew nothing about these opportunities until she got the invitations. They were discretely passed to students in sealed envelopes addressed to parents hopefully so as not to upset others in the group. There may well be other trips that dd knows nothing about that are rewards for other subjects.
I suppose there will always be pupils who miss out because the numbers don't make it feasible for full year groups to go. I think by offering places as a reward is probably less unfair than on a first come first served basis.

Q0FE Thu 25-Jun-15 17:32:27

These are all on a first come first served basis and only the children whose families can afford it can go. The rest have no chance of an authorised jolly in term time, even if that might be the only way their parents could afford afford a family holiday.

chicaguapa Thu 25-Jun-15 17:41:42

It's unusual to have the trips completely in school term ime but maybe the teachers at your DD's school don't want to take kids away in their holidays.

Because it's only for a limited number of spaces, perhaps those going have to make a commitment to make up any missing work. AT DD's school where spaces are limited and demand is greater, the school will choose who can go based on behaviour and attitude so there is a reward element too.

Are you upset about it being elitist or because they get time off school?

SirChenjin Thu 25-Jun-15 17:47:46

It's not unusual in the slightest - our schools don't have any trips in the holidays, so the usual (ie wealthy) kids swan off across the UK and the globe on all sorts of 'educational' (ha ha) trips while the rest stay in class. I don't know if it's different in England, but it makes me mad - state education is supposed to be inclusive, not dependent on how much money your parents have. Even with fundraising, the trips abroad are beyond the reach of many. Completely agree with you OP.

Q0FE Thu 25-Jun-15 17:56:38

Both chicaguapa !!

My understanding was that trips should only take place during school time if they are curriculum related in which case why the hell should only some children get to go?

I honestly had no idea that fun trips for the few who can afford it were allowed during term time. It's a whole week out of school which would never be authorised if I wanted to take my child on a term time holiday...

Bunbaker Thu 25-Jun-15 18:13:23

Are you absolutely sure that these trips happen during term time?

At DD's school they do a ski trip during February half term and a trip to France at May half term. They do not take the students out of school for this kind of trip. However, they do field trips for specific subjects eg geography or science during term time as they are part of the curriculum.

Q0FE Thu 25-Jun-15 18:16:17

Yes. I am certain because DD mentioned it, I disbelieved her, she made me check the dates on the school website and several are in school term time and involve up to 5 full days out of school.

mrz Thu 25-Jun-15 18:26:55

It's not unusual we have a group away at the moment while their classmates remain in school.

insanityscatching Thu 25-Jun-15 18:33:31

Dd's residential trips are in term time and she went on three residentials in Primary all in term time.

Q0FE Thu 25-Jun-15 20:12:40

Whole year group residentials are a different thing though, they've just been on one in fact - the cost was subsidised and there was extra financial help for children on FSM. The trip was open to all as part of summer learning week and nearly every child went.

But the trips I take issue with cost over three times what the whole year group residential cost and offer no subsidy to children on FSM. They only offer 20-40 places between a year group of over 200, and they aren't part of the schools curriculum (because if they were, the trip would have to be open to all pupils). So why are they taking place during school term time?

chicaguapa Thu 25-Jun-15 20:16:54

It's a tricky one and it's come up on here before. Sometimes these trips offer DC the chance to do something you couldn't afford to do as a whole family. Other families prefer to spend the money on a family holiday. By making these trips optional, schools are allowing you to make the decision. Some might ask why their DC can't have the opportunity just because someone else's can't afford it.

There will always be things DC can't afford and it's something they have to learn. DD can't go on the Barcelona trip as we're saving up for an extension. It's not a bad message to teach her, though it would be more difficult if she' really wanted or needed to go.

As to when they are, if you don't support the idea of them in principle then you definitely won't like the idea of them needing to be in the term time. It may be to keep the prices down or as I said before so there will be teachers to take the DC away who don't want to go in their holidays. But it sounds like it's down to the school. DH's school definitely has trips in the holiday as he's giving up his October half term to go on one and MIL is coming stay to look after our DC. hmm

I'm sure they have to be related to the curriculum to warrant time out of the school term though. Ofsted wouldn't like it otherwise. Perhaps you could suggest your own curriculum-related trip and ask for the time off for your DD for that.

SirChenjin Thu 25-Jun-15 22:16:01

Thing is chic - your DD isn't going because you're paying for a conservatory, which indicates an amount of disposable income which in other circumstances would allow her to go. For children at state schools whose parents are not in a position to pay for these 'vaguely related to the curriculum' trips at all, year after year after year, it can be awful to be stuck in the classroom while others are off on trips which are presumably supposed to benefit and enrich the learning experience. In my opinion - and and I feel really strongly about this - is that all children, regardless of their parents income, should be able to access this term time curriculum enrichment.

SirChenjin Thu 25-Jun-15 22:16:25


Q0FE Fri 26-Jun-15 06:53:48

I wouldn't really care if trips like that were organised in the holidays tbh - that would be fine by me.

But. If a trip is organised for a few children in term time, then one of two things is happening.

a) The trip is educational and curriculum related but only 20 children whose parents can afford it get to go - so the rest of the children are missing out on a part of the curriculum.


b) The trip is not educational or curriculum related but 20 children whose parents can afford it get to have a holiday in term time - while the rest of the children aren't allowed to do any such thing.

I'm not sure which is worse tbh.

And while I take your point about it being a useful lesson for children to learn that they can't afford everything they'd like to do - that only goes so far. In many many families the choice is between heating or food, or maybe coats or shoes - never mind a trip to Barcelona or an extension. Nearly every family I know would love to be in the enviable position of being able to choose between home improvements or expensive extra curricular activities. Seems to me like the real lesson is, as so often, that those with better off parents get more opportunities - but at a state school that shouldn't be made so obvious IMO.

Chipsahoythere Fri 26-Jun-15 06:57:51

But who would take them if it was organised completely in the holidays?

AtiaoftheJulii Fri 26-Jun-15 07:08:03

I can't say I particularly like it either. Our schools do "pulled out of a hat" rather than "first come first served" but it's still a bit shit for those who don't get pulled out or can't afford to go.

One school did French and German trips alternate years, for years 9 and 10. Dd 's first opportunity was for French - she knew she wanted to do German gcse, and we were told that those who hadn't been on the French trip would get priority the next year, so she didn't go for it. Next year, she would have loved to go on the German trip, but the school put everyone's name in the hat, no matter if you'd been to France the year before, and she didn't get picked out. Some kids went to both. Hard to see anything fair about that.

Bunbaker Fri 26-Jun-15 07:09:03

"But who would take them if it was organised completely in the holidays?"

As the numbers are restricted the places for trips at DD's school are always filled. Not everyone goes away at half term you know.

Chipsahoythere Fri 26-Jun-15 07:11:01

Sorry Bunbaker, I'm not clear on your response to my comment. I meant who would take the children on the trip at the op's school if the trips were over a holiday week.

bereal7 Fri 26-Jun-15 07:13:22

Tbh I don't think there is anything wrong with them. You said they also offer the whole year trips right? I'm this case, most people will get to go away.

I agree with a PP about it being a valuable lesson that people can afford different things and we can't always get what we want. State school or not - it's a good life lesson.

thehumanjam Fri 26-Jun-15 07:28:59

I understand that it is difficult for those children that stay behind, on some of the trips the PTA cover costs for some families. However I would be disappointed if these type of trips were to stop as the state schools would fall either further behind the independent schools in terms of extra curricula experiences on offer.

At our school most of the holidays that are not directly linked to the curriculum are in the holidays. We also have language trips which take place in term time, I assume those staying behind cover the work at school but I'm not sure.

We are not a wealthy family at all, our family holidays never cost more than £250 and we've never had a family holiday abroad. I do plan for our children to go on most of the residential trips because we could never afford to take them on these types of trips ourselves. As soon as one trip is over I start budgeting for the next one and ds has put some of his birthday money towards some of the trips in the past. Ds has just started a paper round and saves half of it into an account that will go towards the Challenge trip that he wants to go on in 3 years time.

SirChenjin Fri 26-Jun-15 07:29:47

Why exactly is it a good life lesson in this situation? Your parents have money = you get a trip linked to the curriculum and your education benefits from that, they don't = you don't. That's not a life lesson I want children to learn.

bereal7 Fri 26-Jun-15 07:33:49

sir there non - curriculum trips. So my point returns. If they were, then ofcourse everyone should get to go.

Q0FE Fri 26-Jun-15 07:37:08

But if they are non-curriculum - why are children missing a whole week of school to go?

SirChenjin Fri 26-Jun-15 07:42:54

Really? So a non curriculum trip (although in our schools they're linked in some way) that costs many hundreds (sometimes thousands) means you get a week or 2 out of school, while those who parents can't
afford them have to stay in school and do normal lessons? Nope, not a good life lesson in an educational context.

I don't know what it's like in your school, but our High School is very socially diverse, and it's the same kids who don't go - year on year. I doubt they are thankful for their life lesson.

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