Cost of school trips

I’m interested to hear what other people pay for school trips and what they think is an appropriate level. My children go to state school. This school year I have been asked to pay £23.50 for a trip to the pantomime and £245 for a two day residential, both for a year 7 child. My year 5 child also has a two day residential and a pantomime trip planned this year and I’m still waiting to be told how much that will set me back but I’m expecting to have to fork out around £500+ on school trips for two children this year. Our family holiday for four of us involves a tent and never costs more than £150 for 5 days!  The school trips expected in the next few years are likely to be even more expensive. We are not as hard-up as many families but we do make very careful decisions about how to use the spare cash we’ve got. I don’t feel like it is fair for school to decide they want something for the children that costs so much more than they can pay and then expect parents to foot the bill. I phoned the school to discuss this today. They offered financial assistance if we couldn’t afford it. I don’t feel I can take it as we are nowhere near as badly off as some. I just want to make my own decisions about how we spend that sort of money. They also implied that they hardly ever got this sort of feedback and that no one else seems to think these costs are unreasonable. I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts as I can’t work out whether I’m being completely OTT about this!
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  • FtbDreaming
    FtbDreaming Posts: 1,118
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    It gets worse every year! Put it this way I paid the school £155 in September that covered bus fare; a day trip for £22.50 (where the kids actually walked there and back) deposit for duke of Edinburgh (£50 deposit £175 total) and then a deposit on another trip which is £225 total. 
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  • EnPointe
    EnPointe Posts: 259
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    For the panto, ticket + transport sounds reasonably  fair ,  individual tickets for the Professional panto at  my local Professional theatre are 24.50 per seat for most shows  this year , i'm guessing the school trip is probably a  matinee relatively  early in the run  and for group booking   you'll probably pay  less, but  equally  depending on numbers of staff required to supervise ... the school did offer assistance as well.   such assistance comes from the 'full price' places, PTA and  trading  profits ... 
  • pramsay13
    pramsay13 Posts: 1,922
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    Our school residential trips are optional so those that can't afford or don't want to pay that much stay at home and do fun activities in school instead. 
  • maman
    maman Posts: 28,406
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    It's tough but schools just don't have the finances (unless a hugely wealthy PTA) to fund these off site visits. They run them to try to balance off the curriculum with some fun stuff and residentials are really useful for helping children socially. Parental contributions are voluntary but as @pramsay13 says they aren't compulsory and schools will do their best to ensure those that don't go get to have some fun too. 
  • jackieblack
    jackieblack Posts: 10,292
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    Check the school’s Charging/Remissions policy (it should be on their website). 

    Particularly for a Primary School running a whole class trip, you may find that the ‘charge’ is actually a ‘voluntary contribution’ if the trip is during the school day and no distinction is made for children whose parents don’t pay. Trips outside of the school day, eg an evening theatre visit are different and can be that only those who pay go as it’s a choice.

    For residential trips, usually only the board & lodging part of the cost is chargeable and the activities/transport part (the school day part) are a voluntary contribution.

    However, most schools will have a minimum threshold of money in from parents to make visits financially viable so if lots of parents choose not to pay the trip may not run.
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  • marcia_
    marcia_ Posts: 1,518
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     Our school is pretty good. We have a PTA which organises summer and Christmas fairs. All funds go towards trips, so much so a 2 night residential will cost £60 with the school paying the rest. All other day trips are free  except a packed lunch.

     Most schools have a policy to give free trips to those that qualify for free school meals. So if this applies to you ask the school if they do this. 

     Think about setting up or joining the PTA and suggesting the same. 
  • Flugelhorn
    Flugelhorn Posts: 5,426
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    Check the school’s Charging/Remissions policy (it should be on their website). 

    Particularly for a Primary School running a whole class trip, you may find that the ‘charge’ is actually a ‘voluntary contribution’ if the trip is during the school day and no distinction is made for children whose parents don’t pay. Trips outside of the school day, eg an evening theatre visit are different and can be that only those who pay go as it’s a choice.

    For residential trips, usually only the board & lodging part of the cost is chargeable and the activities/transport part (the school day part) are a voluntary contribution.

    However, most schools will have a minimum threshold of money in from parents to make visits financially viable so if lots of parents choose not to pay the trip may not run.
    This is the point they can't charge for a trip during the school day and ultimately hope that enough parents will pay up to make it viable. 
    DD's school had several trips and one of them (can't remember what - but it was £35 for the day) struck me as pretty silly. I contacted the school about the number of trips they were organising and was this actually essential - they replied by return and said they would fund her trip. I could easily afford it but on that occasion let them get on with it and pay for her place
  • When our child was of school age, we set up a savings account purely to cover things like this.

    £10 (or more if you can manage it) soon mounts up and at least takes the sting out of these expenses

    I so think people seriously underestimate the cost of children and like everything else, it's sure not getting cheaper
  • maman said:
    It's tough but schools just don't have the finances (unless a hugely wealthy PTA) to fund these off site visits. They run them to try to balance off the curriculum with some fun stuff and residentials are really useful for helping children socially. Parental contributions are voluntary but as @pramsay13 says they aren't compulsory and schools will do their best to ensure those that don't go get to have some fun too. 
    I agree, schools are really struggling and even in wealthy areas things are tight. I do not have children, but my business sponsors the school where my niece and nephew attend. Myself and several other businesses paid for the playground to be re-laid and play equipment to be installed, that work was done by the the company of another parent who did it all at cost, another parent's company built and installed the green learning area and supplies a staff member twice a month talk to the kids about plants and help them plant and grow various flowers and vegetables, parents have painted and decorated the school in their spare time, with paint donated to the school. These are all projects that the school could just not afford from the budget funding from the government. 

    Even with all the extra contributions, the things parents provide for free etc. the school can only just make the budget cover the core needs, they could not afford to fund free school trips. 
  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,345
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    It's the sort of thing that often falls under the "oh it's only £XX" category without any thought that £XX to one person is pocket money and to another it's this week's groceries.  Trips are never going to be completely free so someone is going to have to fund them even if there are parents available to chaperone.  I think the idea of getting involved with the PTA is the best way to rein in some of the expense while looking for what really free things can be done to minimise the impact.  
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