Charges for school trips ‘exclude poorer pupils’ from key subjects

The Independent is reporting that concerns that schools are breaching guidelines by charging parents for field trips that are central to exam courses – leading to fears that children from poor families are opting not to study geography and biology…

A survey of 2,500 parents revealed that more than a third of those with children over the age of 11 have been required to pay for field trips that are compulsory parts of assessed courses.

Many of the trips take place during the school day – meaning state schools are breaching government guidelines by asking parents to cover the cost.The study by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) also found that 91 per cent of parents had been asked to contribute for any sort of school trip – including outings to museums, theatres or nature reserves.

Almost half of parents paid more than £50 per child over the past year to enable participation, with one in 20 paying more than £500 a year. Nearly a quarter of children over 11 years old were unable to participate in educational trips due to the cost.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “There is no doubt that access to education for an increasing number is based on parents’ ability to pay…”

The Department for Education warned that it was against the law for state schools to charge pupils for elements of a course required by the curriculum.

Official guidance states that schools “cannot charge for education provided on any visit that takes place during school hours – or education provided on any visit that takes place outside school hours if it is part of the national curriculum or part of a syllabus for a prescribed public examination.”

Schools are allowed to charge for board and lodging for residential trips, but the charge must not exceed the actual cost…

More at: Charges for school trips ‘exclude poorer pupils’ from key subjects


How widespread do you think this is and, if schools can’t charge, how will they make the sums add up? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove I’m sure the phrase is “voluntary contribution” for trips. If enough don’t “voluntarily contribute” school can’t afford it?

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Is this a symptom of the seemingly never ending cuts in education funding (despite what politicians tell us)?

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove I’m sure schools would love to fund all trips (and should fund those required for qualification). Answer: no trips at all?

  4. andylutwyche

    “AnnieBlack01: andylutwyche SchoolsImprove PP money could cover trips, surely.” One would like to think so; depends how it’s allocated

  5. AnnieBlack01

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove yep. My son’s school has cancelled trips because not enough have paid. Very annoying.

  6. gasman_g

    SchoolsImprove Schools are entitled to ask for contributions – many would use PP money to cover costs of those that can’t pay

  7. gasman_g

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Agreed – curriculum can be covered in other ways maybe? Theatre is a good example – great but not essential

  8. andylutwyche

    AnnieBlack01 SchoolsImprove I imagine it happens quite a lot – some people forget to pay, some take advantage of “voluntary” I assume

  9. andylutwyche

    gasman_g SchoolsImprove Schools are having to be creative in these elements of the curriculum due to lack of funding

  10. gasman_g

    AnnieBlack01 andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Only for PP students – other parents may choose not to pay voluntary contributions of course…

  11. PrincesBold

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove If they stopped advertising In local press about how much better than the next state school they could!

  12. Janet2

    The law is muddled.  Guidance says schools may not charge for education taking play in school hours or education outside school hours if it’s part of the national curriculum, preparation for an exam or part of religious education.

    Activities outside school hours not covered above are deemed ‘voluntary’:

    However, ‘voluntary contributions’ can be requested for  ‘any activity which takes place during school hours; school equipment; and school funds generally.’

    This cancels out the rules about not charging for education in school hours.

    The law should be amended to make it quite clear that NO charges can be made for activities in school hours and no voluntary contributions requested for these activities.  PTAs could still fund raise, and these funds could be used to subsidise an activity BUT there should be linking this legitimate fund raising with a particular activity in school hours.

  13. Janet2

    @AnnieBlack01 andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Booster classes should be available to all pupils who need it.  Not all PP children will need boosting while there will be some non-PP kids who do.

  14. andylutwyche

    PrincesBold SchoolsImprove I agree! Schools’ marketing budgets are out of control. It’s politically created though.

  15. andylutwyche

    PrincesBold SchoolsImprove I agree! Schools’ marketing budgets are out of control. It’s politically created though.

  16. PrincesBold

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Not compulsory though, those cretinous Heads and GBs must hate each other, collaboration, my arse!

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