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School trip costing £640 & only 50 places for 420 eligible. Reasonable?

(99 Posts)
iloverhubarb Thu 09-Jun-11 12:10:18

My DD's school plans a week's trip to Spain next year, focus is watersports, abseiling etc. For year 7 and 8, so potentially 420 pupils, only 50 places.

I have two concerns, and really want to know if I am being over the top or reasonable in planning to write to the school about them:

1. Cost, will exclude many, becomes exclusive experience for small number of girls whose parents are able to afford a top of the range hol for them. Surely focus should be on selecting children who unlikely to get this opportunity otherwise - or at least making sure they can take part somehow. Why are they not using a UK activity based youth hostel?

2. Allocation of places on first come first served is clearly mad. Letters went out yesterday, almost all places gone this morning? Huh? (clearly money not an issue for some!) Luckily DD accepts we can't afford, so this process not an issue for us. Just weird. The olympics application process looks sensible in comparison. Hysteria on the roads outside school this am!

My main issue is that I think school trips should have an educational or social purpose, and should be accessible to the majority. Any teachers out there who know whether there is a national requirement for a state school in terms of strategy/purpose of school trips, or would this be up to individual school? Is this just a freebie/perk for a few PE teachers!!

thanks for any thoughts

PotteringAlong Thu 09-Jun-11 12:15:16

How else would you do it other than first come first served?

And NO - it's not a perk and a freebie. Would you take 50 12 and 13 year olds away, who weren't yours, for a week knowing that if (God forbid) anything goes wrong you could be sued or prosecuted and think it was just a jaunt where you didn't care? Would you take responsibility to entertain and keep safe those pupils for 24 hours a day for 7 days and see it as a perk of your job?! I've taken several school trips abroad ( because I do believe it's really important) and have never been so tired and so weary as I am when I get off the coach at the end of the week

MynameisTerces Thu 09-Jun-11 12:28:11

No it is not reasonable they could have chosen somthing else that was cheaper and for all.

grovel Thu 09-Jun-11 12:31:49

"My main issue is that I think school trips should have an educational or social purpose, and should be accessible to the majority."
I would go further. We all know that there are income inequalities between parents at every school. I just don't think that school activities should promote the awkward conversations in homes about affordability.

MynameisTerces Thu 09-Jun-11 12:36:24

Yes, I agree. I also think that the social bonding that goes on during a trip is not somthing that children should have to miss out on. It just makes the social divide even greater.

Cretaceous Thu 09-Jun-11 12:37:59

Re first come first served, my DC's school does a lottery for places in the unlikely event that the trip is oversubscribed - we're talking theatre trip here, not overseas trip, but surely the same principle should apply.

EdithWeston Thu 09-Jun-11 12:40:07

You can allocate places by lottery. All this interested must apply by deadline, then names come out of a hat. This means those with adverse home circumstances are not disadvantaged.

It would also be a goid thing if there were a fund which could be used to subsidise costs for those who would otherwise be unable to afford it. A job for the PTA?

cazzybabs Thu 09-Jun-11 12:44:00

It is very hard because I see your point but you may find it is cheaper to go abroad, plsu the weather is better. They are probably limited by numbers by the place they are going - is better than that no-body goes? Maybe in previous years there hasn't been as many people wanting to go?

localcrackpot Thu 09-Jun-11 12:48:37

Surely there will be other trips that are more reasonably priced and generally accessible?
The thing is, I doubt there's funding to take 50 (or even 10) children away who couldn't pay for themselves. Like the rest of the country, schools are feeling the pinch at the moment. So it's a case of some can go, or that's not fair so no-one should go. If it's for 50 people out of 420 then obviously the vast majority can't go - I doubt there'll be 370 feeling left out.
School isn't separated from the rest of life. Some people have lots of money. Some people don't. I didn't go on holiday at all with my mum when I was at school, we didn't have any money. That doesn't mean I thought there shouldn't be a ski trip for the girls whose parents could fork out for kit, holiday, spending money etc.
First come, first served seems perfectly fair.

I doubt it'll be the first or last thing that your child (or any child, come to that) will be excluded from due to lack of funds or bad luck in not getting a place. I don't think it's fair to say 'if everyone can't have it, no-one should'.

caughtinanet Thu 09-Jun-11 12:50:17

There is a similar trip at my local school although not in term time so possibly different. I see it as a trip organised by the school but not a "school trip" per se due to the cost and number issues you've mentioned.

I don't have a problem with it, there are many lower priced whole school trips and like it or not its a fact of life that some can afford things others can't. I missed out on a foreign trip as a child because of cost and looking back now I don't think I missed out, some went and some didn't.

I can see its a shame that not every one can go but I don't think the school are wrong to offer the trip. I guess a lottery would the best system if oversubscribed, first come first served doesn't see the fairest way.

bigTillyMint Thu 09-Jun-11 12:59:11

Surely there is an educational purpose - they will be learning watersports which is very worthwhile IMO. It is a real shame that they can't open it up to all the children who want to go - not just the ones who weren't quick enough on first-come-first-served, but also those whose families genuinely couldn't afford it.

FWIW, although it is undoubtedly a big responsibility for the teachers, they will probably be getting free places - a not insubstantial perk for taking them all smile

MynameisTerces Thu 09-Jun-11 13:00:10

I thought the point of school trips was for every child to have an experience not just the wealthy ones. Otherwise what is the point. Those children probably go on holiday with the parents as well. The poor kids will get neither. I would rather subsidise the rest of the kids and them all do something much cheaper for less time. They should all do the same.

localcrackpot Thu 09-Jun-11 13:03:46

shock you're joking, right? Free place as a supervisor and person in charge being a substantial perk? You don't get paid for time outside school hours, you're doing it for love. That's like saying you're not expecting your wedding planner to bring a gift, but you're not paying her either! Load of hassle. They might really enjoy being there, seeing the children overcome fears etc, working with them... but I don't think not having to pay balances it out, let alone qualifies as a perk!

MynameisTerces Thu 09-Jun-11 13:05:20

I can't think of anything more awful than going on a break with 50 kids TBH its bad enough with 3.

OpusProSerenus Thu 09-Jun-11 13:07:07

It will only get worse OP. My DCs school used to do this sort of thing then it moved onto a trip to New York (apparently to support Geopgraphy GCSE coursework) and sports tours where the hockey, rugby and cricket teams toured Aus & NZ, South America, etc for 2-3weeks. The sports tours ran out at about £2.5-3K each and that was with the parents fundraising to support it too!

Having said that, although I think it is OTT, you can't go through life not allowing people to do stuff in case others feel deprived.

EdithWeston Thu 09-Jun-11 13:10:28

The numbers you can take on a residential trip will always be limited by the number of staff you can take to supervise.

First come first served is very, very unfair on children who are ill and absent on the day the letters go out, or who depend on school or rural buses so cannot be first at the school gate, or who live in two households with shared custody and the other parent cannot be reached that day etc; or miss emails because of an outage or they just didn't check at the right time.

Megmog2000 Thu 09-Jun-11 13:17:52

Sadly, schools cant take everyone on the trip and places are limited to around 50 for overseas trips. (although in my DS school, they are taking 85 to Paris is a couple of weeks, and the school that I work in took 90 kids skiing last february...)

All children should get the opportunity to go on a trip like this, and the school should operate a system of subsidising some places for those who are not so financially well off. Does the school have a trip policy?? i.e. if behaviour is an issue then opportunites for trips like this are limited?

There are only 50 places, so potentially there will be 370 children who wont go, so its those that are on the trip that are in the minority. what you do find is that whilst some children would want to go, because their best friend isnt going, they choose not to and as cazzybabs pointed out, the numbers of children wanting to go may have decreased over the years...?

I wouldnt say that the staff accompanying the children paricularly relish the task of doing so, but I guess they would enjoy aspects of the trip otherwise why go. I have had the pleasure chore of accompanying children on day trips and its not something I plan to volunteer for in the future!!

bluebobbin Thu 09-Jun-11 13:18:03

If all the places were taken immediately, it's clearly not too expensive.

It's optional, it's (presumably) in the holidays so I don't think there is an issue. It isn't to do with the curriculum so you don't miss education if you can't go. It's just an extra which you can take or leave. I would also point out that all children attending the same school do not have the same amount of money. They don't have the same home lives as eachother. I would just take this as part of homelife. Presumably some children have better clothes than others, some have better electronics...etc...etc.

bluebobbin Thu 09-Jun-11 13:20:16

Re your Olympics comment OP - it's just life. We applied for a small number of cheaper tickets and we weren't allocated any - that's just how it goes.

MynameisTerces Thu 09-Jun-11 13:24:26

If this is a state school, bluebobbin I think you are wrong there. They should all get the same experience or none. Yes life is crap but in school there should be a bit of levelling it out to make life slightly less crap for those kids.

caughtinanet Thu 09-Jun-11 13:55:58

MynameisTerces - why should state school children miss out on the opportunity to do stuff that maybe they wouldn't do otherwise ?

Are watersports, skiing and sports tours only to be available to those children who attend a private school? I think that's nonsense, my children all go to state schools and they will have opportunities there that I can afford for an individual child but that just aren't feasible for the family as a whole.

If (and this is only an example) my 15 year old had the chance to go skiing with the school I'd want him to do it as there's no way we could go as a family if I have 6 other children two of whom are under 3.

Even on the cheapest of school trips there will sadly be families who can't afford it and its daft to say that there should be no trips at all because of this.

MynameisTerces Thu 09-Jun-11 14:01:47

Oh I don't know why don't we make a special area for the poor kids in the dining halls and libraries as well. Why don't we have better school meals for those not on free school meals. Why don't we have better classrooms for those who can pay for the extras. hmmState school is supposed to offer them all the same. Ski trips are fine but should be open to all in some way and should offer free places for some. If they went last year they should not go this year. There are ways of making these things more fair.

IndigoBell Thu 09-Jun-11 14:02:05

Kids on free school meals might get the trip subsidised - but you wouldn't have been told about it. It would have been done discretely in a private letter to them.....

MynameisTerces Thu 09-Jun-11 14:02:23

Most of the cheap school trips offer free spaces anyway.

iloverhubarb Thu 09-Jun-11 14:12:02

Whoops - I should have missed out that idiotic comment about it being a perk for the teachers! Point taken teachers and I take that back. But I'm glad the rest of my post has raised such a variety of opinion.

I definitely think a lottery after say 2 weeks period for sensible family discussion re priorities would be far better allocation route.

But the bigger issue is more debatable I reckon. It's in a holiday period next year, so agree could say it's not really a school trip; as long as there are other more accessible experiences as well maybe OK. (But I'm not aware of any!) There has been massive over subscription - so cost doesn't appear to be an issue for many - and yes, that's life. But should the school be providing this experience to the rich(er) kids who already have these opportunities? Still think it would be cheaper and more appropriate to do activity based YH in UK for more kids but I don't have any facts re costs. I agree with MynameisTerces on that.

Personally I'm (and DD) feeling fine about it as we were able to make a quick decision (no!). I do find the hype and pressure from the school offensive - videos of previous trip shown to all year 7 and 8 yesterday, tutor telling them all places went in less than a day last time etc etc. My DD will not be missing out on a majority experience as most people won't be able to go whether they want to/can afford or not. I'll shut up now!

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