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Fees for field trips

(49 Posts)
PastSellByDate Tue 07-May-13 13:46:16

Hello all:

A few of us are noticing that the fees set out in letters to parents at our school across several different years don't quite match published school visit fees on the websites of the venues our school is visiting.

Now we range from extreme skepticism (for which read me) to those who feel there must be a logical explanation (maybe charging a bit more to then buy all the children a treat or something).

However, all of us remain deeply confused as to whether schools can make a profit off of field trips or not? The overcharging isn't huge from 30p to up to £1 per child - but our concern is this will of course add up over 3 excursions per school year and 7 years of pupils.

Does anyone know if a school is in the wrong to charge an individual child more than the actual value of their participation in a school trip?

Is it the case that we fee paying parents are subsidising those who don't and it's just that nobody has explained that outright to us?

We'd be grateful if you are a governor or teacher in a school and can explain this situation at our school.

PastSellByDate Thu 09-May-13 10:40:53

Guys - I don't think teachers are siphoning it off - I think it just disappears into the school's general fund. Again it's not 1-2p - it genuinely is 30p - £1.10 a child per excursion.

Ultimately it probably is spent on students.

What I object to is the document at the start of each year regarding field trips assures parents at our school that they are only charged precisely what it costs for their child to attend and that paying parents do not subsidize costs for teachers, volunteers or those who do not pay. This is the school policy & appears on the website.

Every trip is just slightly more than expected. Prices for trips are never totally explained and when we have the temerity to ask - we get responses like above - 'you must be unhinged Mrs. PSBD! (thanks for that POOKA - but you raise a fair point - I'm not a big fan of the school). The usual reply is something along the lines of 'I'm terribly offended that you would even suggest such a thing Mrs. PSBD! (or fill in blank)' And the same has happened to my friends with similar suspicions. We're left with grin and bear it really - and no explanation.

The final straw this year for me was that we have been charged around £6 a child for a field trip that was meant to have happened last term and although we have all asked - what's going on? - is this going to be rescheduled? Will we be refunded? We have yet to have an answer from the school.

Last night we've tallied 45 fully documented discrepancies - whereby we have our child's admission ticket, the letter from the school with breakdown of transport/ insurance fees (so we can work out what remained for entrance fee). One of us even rang a theatre last year to double check if there was a credit card charge per ticket (which was the explanation from the school) only to learn that in fact the theatre does not charge schools this fee for school trips (discrepancy in this case was 70p per child - entire school attending - 200 or so kids = £140).

We have all individually asked repeatedly about these little things. I fully admit they are little things. But they add up - should I be giving the school approximately an extra £3.50 - £5 a year (this year is more like £10 - thus my starting to grumble). Over 200+ children that works out to over £700 - £1000 extra a year for the school at least.

Our PTA barely manages to raise £2-3K a year over about 6-8 events (discos, fairs, performances, coffee mornings, etc...).

Maybe this is small change from a teacher's perspective/ your perspective - but we genuinely are curious to know where this money is going at the school. It's not visible. It's not explained.

I would be fine if we could see the surplus was recorded & spent on all children. But we parents fund prizes for things like 'house' days/ sports days. Children are only issued with one homework book a year and if that's full - we parents have to buy another or staple paper into the back of the old one. We have to supply all pens, crayons & pencils.

Maybe it's going on photocopying? But the school now e-mails most letters/ newsletters to us. Of course there is work in class still.

I do volunteer on trips, as have many others, and we are asked to pay our fee to go along as well.

I would just like to know that this money (which is our money) is accounted for and what it is being spent on?

I personally would like to understand that ultimately it is spent for the children's benefit but more importantly that it is accounted for.

The wider issue is this is a faith school - and several of us are querying their behaviour in that context.

FreddieMisaGREATshag Thu 09-May-13 10:46:05

Is this really the biggest worry in your life?


PastSellByDate Thu 09-May-13 10:57:28

No Freddie

It's genuinely not my biggest worry...

..but it is odd and does bother me a bit (financially & morally).

I do find the responses interesting. A lot of people seem to be o.k. with someone taking £5-£7 (this year £10 & counting) out of your wallet each year? no explanation? and no evidence that it is ultimately being spent on your child - which was why you paid it in the first place.

Maybe it is just that I'm an ancient thing...but I'm not o.k. with that.


FreddieMisaGREATshag Thu 09-May-13 10:58:53

I'm ancient too grin but why don't you just ask the school?

FreddieMisaGREATshag Thu 09-May-13 10:59:28

Breatheslowly - wasn't it Superman 2 that was done in? He took the extra half a cent off everyone?

badguider Thu 09-May-13 11:03:50

I run a guide unit and I ususally round up entrance fees to the nearest £1 if small or £5 if a large amount so that I don't have to give change at meetings (I cannot be going to the bank for a float!). I also have to have two adults per 12 girls and cannot ask the adults to pay their own way so we have to cover that.
AND... often the price depends on the size of the group or the price is per instructor and each instructor has a maximum - so 12 girls to one instructor, 13-24 girls need two; same goes for museums etc. If we have more than 12 but less than 24 then we pay more per head.... it's all pretty complicated and many places need booked before final numbers are in.
So yes, I round up, and the accounts balance at the end of the year... we are not making a profit year on year.

PastSellByDate Thu 09-May-13 11:15:23

Hi badguider:

You clearly are dealing with cash and very small numbers. In that context and because the community you serve will trust that any surplus will be spent on the girl guides at some point - I've no doubt there is no issue.

In my context - we have to pay by cheque only so there is no change issue - and we're paying exact amounts (sometimes £7.19). Clearly not rounding to nearest 5p/ 10p/ £1. Volunteers going along pay their way.

But maybe FreddieMAGS above is correct. We should be o.k. with someone regularly taking small amounts of money from us - at our banks, our schools, etc...

and by the way FreddieMAGS - we have asked the school and we're not getting an explanation - we're getting abuse basically - thus our growing disquiet? anger? confusion I guess.

Surely if everything was above board - they'd be able to explain.

I still am left amazed that the response here is that it's wrong to question missing money...are you all o.k. with that? very interesting.

PastSellByDate Thu 09-May-13 11:20:17

Sorry chopchopbusybusy

by 'quiz the children'

We've asked them if they got a treat on their excursion (an ice cream/ sweet/ etc...) - which is why we thought there was this extra charge - but they said no.

I don't think in KS1 they really notice how many adults/ who came along - although sometimes a Mum of a friend comes along and my DDs will comment on that.

FreddieMisaGREATshag Thu 09-May-13 11:22:10

So push the school for an answer.

"In your handout of x date you stated blah blah. I have noticed that this is not the case.

Please explain the following discrepancies





I will be forwarding this letter to the Chair of Governors and the LEA



PastSellByDate Thu 09-May-13 12:09:32

Yes -

I think all we can do is either put up with it or complain.

Our problem is that we know complaining results in repercussions for our children. Many of us (because of bad experiences previously) are deeply frightened to attack the school head on.

When we find ourselves in dispute with the school our children are suddenly drop down groups, fined for not returning books in the library when they have, teachers get harsher with their behaviour, etc...

I will talk to everyone - but I suspect as always we'll just have to find some form of middle road - maybe insisting on fully itemized expenses on all letters requesting fees for field trips?

What has been useful is to learn that schools should only charge what it costs for a child to go and that these events can't make a profit.

lot's to think about and talk about...

If anyone out there has experienced similar and found a smooth way through with the Head/ governors please let me know.

FreddieMisaGREATshag Thu 09-May-13 12:21:55

You must have other massive issues with the school other than this. This is not, in my opinion, a good battle to pick.

Groovee Thu 09-May-13 12:24:56

Could you do a freedom of Information request about the break down of costs for trips?

PastSellByDate Thu 09-May-13 13:34:27

Agree FreddieMAGS - this is just something that a few of us are niggling about at present. Mainly just wanted to resolve whether schools can make a profit off of field trips or not.

Answer seems to be no - so as you suggest we all have to consider is this worth going to battle over.

It may well not be worth it - most of us are KS2 upper parents and nearly free of the place, thank God.

BlueberryHill Thu 09-May-13 14:01:46

I find the idea that a group of parents have got together and are forensically working their way through the school trips to check the figures a little disturbing. As is the idea that as a faith school this would make it more disturbing, as though it is OK for non faith schools to not have a moral ethos.

Yes, I wouldn't bother about an extra 50p on the school trip, but I have no issues with the school (and wouldn't think to phone a theatre about credit card charges).

However, as there seem to be other issues, dropping children down sets, fines for library books already returned (are you sure? It sounds like too much hard work for the school, I don't believe in conspiracies) then maybe you should bypass the school and go complain straight to the LEA / Ofsted. (No idea if this is possible, maybe someone else would know).

BlueberryHill Thu 09-May-13 14:03:44

I mean complain about the other issues, not the school trip fees.

PastSellByDate Thu 09-May-13 14:35:43

Hi Blueberry:

I can assure you this has been long and organic in its formation.

A group of us agreed to seek advice (thus my posting here on Mumsnet) others elsewhere....

We got together to report on what we'd learned and compare notes. We have all separately saved/ scanned in things that struck us as odd because when this was raised with OFSTED inspectors we were told we had to have evidence (original letter from school, ticket stubs, etc....). Ofsted inspection was 2 years ago - several of us raised this with them in our interviews - but didn't realise it until much later (gradually came out in conversations).

As an example the letter requesting two sets of money for my DD to go on two field trips (one TERM 1/ one TERM 2) was sent out in September and we were requested to pay both in full by mid-October. The first field trip went ahead but the second has never happened. After I raised my concerns about this non-existent 2nd trip, I was told by the Head she would look into it (still awaiting reply - e-mailing her weekly with reminder set on my work e-mail) and the original letter has disappeared off the website.

I can assure you Blueberry - when you are worried sick about the environment your children are in and the people who are in charge of your children day in and day out - you often find yourself discussing it. (and to stop the usual response - can't just pick up and move, not in that position financially or work-wise).

Comment was not that it's o.k. if happens at non-faith schools - comment was that given it is a faith school and 10 commandments are scrawled all over the place - we're pretty shocked.

BlueberryHill Thu 09-May-13 16:04:36


It is actually pretty shocking that the Head still hasn't responded about the second trip and it is now 8 months later. I assume that there are other concerns as well? Could you take it to OFSTED as it is, you've tried to obtain the evidence, including the responses / non responses from school?

Sorry if I was flippant over the faith / non faith aspect, the issues seem to be far more serious than in your original OP. I hope that you can get some resolution, would contacting your local MP help?

Bramshott Thu 09-May-13 16:11:30

I'd just move schools TBH - the trust has clearly completely broken down.

1969Sarah Thu 09-May-13 16:58:13

I have never checked trip charges for our school but discovered many other areas of deliberate deception (misleading if you were being generous). The school get incredibly defensive to anyone who queries anything. Honesty is something I value highly especially from someone in charge of my child's care and education. We leave this "outstanding" school in July for exactly these reasons. We are not alone is going although many turn a blind eye. The Head and their side kick detest those who have seen through it.

Wellthen Thu 09-May-13 20:05:01

I hate to repeat myself but YOU DONT HAVE TO PAY. Pay as much as you think the trip is worth and no more. And then stop bloody banging on about it.

PastSellByDate Fri 10-May-13 12:01:59

Hi Wellthen:

posting or indeed reading this feed is optional - so don't quite understand why you're angry with those of us discussing this or my raising it.

Principle #1 - I like my children going on field trips - I think it is a good thing.

principle #2 - I accept that the school budget can only go so far, so I understand that I may be asked to contribute.

principle #3 - happy to pay for my kid, happy to pay a bit more to help (if transparent and fully explained to me).

I'm sorry that you don't like this feed (the topic, discussion, tone, etc...) - but it is genuinely confusing to have this kind of thing happening and sincerely I was just seeking confirmation on whether schools can make a profit or not out of field trip fees.

BackforGood Fri 10-May-13 12:40:09

I'm stunned that you think this is important enough to focus this much time and energy on. There have been some excellent posts by ChopChop, Pooka, BlueberryHIll and others.
If you have so much time on your hands I'm sure there are many worthwhile causes that would welcome your tenacity and eye for detail, but really, an extra 50p on the price of a school trip ???

steppemum Fri 10-May-13 13:06:15

no, I don't think it is ok for the school to do this. But it sounds as if there are bigger problems at this school, and you are collectively grasping at straws to find something to prove that the school has a problem

Wellthen Sat 11-May-13 11:32:12

Who's angry? confused I was emphasising my point as you didnt seem to understand the first time. Now you are correcting yourself and saying you don't mind paying extra? Which is it?

Many many people have explained that they are not allowed to make a profit and, at less than a pound per child, almost certainly aren't. Despite this you continue to argue your point and see it as an issue worth having meetings over and analysing to death.

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