Gransnet forums


School trips

(38 Posts)
granjura Tue 01-Apr-14 18:17:59

could anyone tell me if school trips at your grand-kids school are free please- and detail. Thanks.

thatbags Fri 04-Apr-14 08:08:04

That's what calling it a voluntary contribution means.

thatbags Fri 04-Apr-14 08:07:27

tanith, schools that write the letters I spoke about are telling the parents that they don't have to pay if they can't afford it.

nightowl Thu 03-Apr-14 22:40:53

I only see this from the outside, as a social worker advocating for looked after children. I have felt very concerned by some of my own experiences, but now I'm even more confused by some of these posts - do schools have to justify where the money has been spent or not? And how much spin can be put on it? I am bewildered.

Penstemmon Thu 03-Apr-14 22:20:43

I work with 7 primary schools as a LA partner(formerly called advisor/inspector!) and all of them use the money to buy in additional support, special resources, pay for attendance at clubs & trips, buy uniform and school photos if family cannot afford to. Part of my job is to ask heads what they have done with the money, every school is supposed to put it on their website what they spent money on and what the impact google your local schools and have a look! OFSTED ask schools to account for how the money has impacted on progress and development for the PPG children.

JessM Thu 03-Apr-14 22:11:39

Trouble is nightowl there is a lot of talk about letting head teachers and governing bodies make their own decisions over local priorities. And how would you actually check what they had spent it on? Most schools probably spend it on additional staff to help with reading, mentoring etc

Mishap Thu 03-Apr-14 22:10:48

OfSted are very hot on how the PP is spent and want to know how this benefits the relevant children. There have to be figures and evidence that it is being spent appropriately. Examples might be the employment of a TA to support small group learning, or payment for musical instrument lessons etc. And indeed payment for trips.

tanith Thu 03-Apr-14 21:44:50

I do think schools could tell parents that it is OK to sometimes not contribute to trips then at least they wouldn't feel so guilty/embarrassed if they really couldn't afford it. Of course there will always be those that take advantage.

nightowl Thu 03-Apr-14 21:39:25

I find that very worrying Penstemmon. It suggests to me that vulnerable children are nothing more than cash cows, who represent a nice little earner for the school as a whole. It's even worse than I thought. Don't they deserve some direct benefit from the money allocated in their name?

Penstemmon Thu 03-Apr-14 21:20:53

Just found this and it does say the PPG can be spent on tennis courts! However the school still has to show that 'PPG children' are making good progress and attaining at good levels. I suppose if they are te money is a bonus!

Terms on which PPG is allocated to schools
8. The grant may be spent by maintained schools for the purposes of the
school; that is to say for the educational benefit of pupils registered at that
school, or for the benefit of pupils registered at other maintained schools; and on community facilities, for example services whose provision furthers any charitable purpose for the benefit of pupils at the school or their families, or people who live or work in the locality in which the school is situated.
9. The grant does not have to be completely spent by schools in the
financial year beginning 1 April 2013; some or all of it may be carried forward to future financial years.

JessM Thu 03-Apr-14 12:03:11

Pupil premium is a significant chunk of money. But there are many ways it can be spent. For instance money was taken away from schools that was meant to fund university visits for those who might not think university was for them (it was called Aim Higher)

nightowl Thu 03-Apr-14 11:48:10

tanith I think it is quite naughty of schools not to be more open with parents about the pupil premium and wish they would quietly offer to pay at least a proportion of trips for children like your DGC. Parents should not have to feel they are going 'cap in hand' for something which is earmarked for their child. I have had the same experience when asking for payments for looked after children, with the result that payment has to be made from the looked after team budget and the school hangs on to that part of the pupil premium. It all comes out of the public purse and the school really has no right to be so proprietorial about that part of the budget.

nightowl Thu 03-Apr-14 11:40:36

Aka I agree such funds should be ring fenced. I agree bags that a tennis court might be valuable but the point is that the pupil premium is supposed to be used to raise the attainment of the specific pupils who attract it. While it can be used for larger projects schools should be able to demonstrate how it will benefit those particular pupils, not every pupil in the school.

Penstemmon a good point is always worth repeating smile I wonder how the school justified that one as well, but it was a while ago and I think (hope) things may be tightened up now the pupil premium is about to be increased so much.

tanith Thu 03-Apr-14 11:25:39

I spoke to one of my daughters about this yesterday , her daughter qualifies for free school meals so I assume she could just 'not contribute'. but she says she always pays because she feels bad and sad if she couldn't. Even though she is robbing peter to pay paul sometimes. She also said that she has never been told that she could just 'not pay' and her child would still be included.

Penstemmon Wed 02-Apr-14 15:09:08

Sorry nightowl did not spot your post and have repeated it!
Must look more carefully!

It is difficult to mis-use PPG as OFSTED ask for details on how it hasbeen used and the impact it has unless all kids who 'attract' PPG are now tennis pros not sure how the school will justify that!!!

Penstemmon Wed 02-Apr-14 15:05:50

Granjura my grandchildren are at school in Surrey too and they have to make a 'voluntary' donation to ensure trips take place! The PTA does subsidise the cost of coaches to keep the cost down. There is also a fund, Pupil Premium Grant which schools receive for childen on Free School Meals etc and schools can use that money to ensure those kids can join in activities that cost, e.g some after school sports clubs etc.

Mishap Wed 02-Apr-14 14:17:33

If they are part of the curriculum the school cannot charge as such, but only ask for voluntary contributions. But without those contributions the trips would probably cease - I speak as a school governor who knows exactly how tight budgets are.

granjura Wed 02-Apr-14 14:14:53

Thank you all so much for your comments. When I used to run trips, be it week-end YHA or French/German exchanges abroad, etc- we had to total the cost then add about 10% for emergency fund- then divide by number of participants. If several refused to pay- it would have been just impossible- although we always had a discretionary fund for families in real difficulty. Our ski trip was run at half-term, so it was a bit different- and we always made sure we found the very best deal for the kids, and travelled by coach (a killer) to cut costs, and arranged hire for ski clothing and also a swap/sales day for second-hand stuff.

GillT57 Wed 02-Apr-14 09:56:35

Yes thatbags, that is exactly how the letters are always worded, and we have had some trips cancelled due to lack of voluntary contributions. I think as parents we did all understand this wording. For the big trips at primary school such as the residential outward bound type trip at the end of year 6 there was an evening meeting in year 5 for parents to tell them all about it and it was made clear that every child was expected to go, and that lack of family funds would not stop any child from going. All parents had a payment book, and sent in money over the next school year to pay for it so not only did it not hurt too much financially, there was no difference between those who could write a cheque immediately and those who couldn't. A few children had their fees paid every year from the school fund, the only people who knew this were the bursar and the members of the governing body. It is always a great trip and heralds the end of primary school and the next stage of their education.

thatbags Wed 02-Apr-14 08:23:53

I tend to agree but do feel that there might be some justification in the idea that a tennis court is as valuable to pupils' education as a trip to the local sea world or whatever.

Aka Wed 02-Apr-14 08:10:22

Nightowl I've never understood why such payments are not 'ring fenced' it goes against all logic.

thatbags Wed 02-Apr-14 07:14:25

The voluntary nature of payment for trips was always made clear in the letters sent home from my DDs' schools. Something to the effect of "if enough voluntary contributions are not forthcoming, the trip will be cancelled". It works exactly as aka says.

So when people say they "have to" or "had to" pay, what they mean is that they were asked for money and the real situation (which was outlined to school governing bodies a long time ago and which, so far as I know, has not changed) was not explained to them, i.e. that if enough didn't pay the trip couldn't happen.
The rule applies to all trips which can be counted as part of the curriculum, not to "extras".

nightowl Tue 01-Apr-14 23:29:06

Schools receive a pupil premium payment for all 'disadvantaged pupils' which can be used for school trips. This includes all children registered for free school meals. Children who are looked after by the local authority attract a payment of £1900 per year from this April. Some schools are very good at using this money creatively for the benefit of these pupils. Unfortunately some choose to put it in a pot and use it for things completely unrelated to to its intended use, such as building a new tennis court confused

Aka Tue 01-Apr-14 22:32:21

You do not have to pay for school trips.

Of course the school could not afford to run trips, holidays, etc if most parents didn't cough up. There were always a few who couldn't or wouldn't pay and these did go free, but on one occasion I know of, a school trip did get cancelled for lack of funding. The parents were up in arms and the Headteacher sent a letter home explaining the situation. Thereafter the situation never arose again.

GillT57 Tue 01-Apr-14 22:25:18

Always had to pay, and our primary school, like most, had a hardship fund if anyone was unable to go. I think we used some of the profits from the school photos which I think was a good idea. This is for educational trips. Nobody is obliged to go on 'jollies' like ski trips.

glammanana Tue 01-Apr-14 22:21:40

Granjura my eldest DGS is now 23 and my DD has always had to pay for school trips for him and his 5 siblings the only free ones where to local Beaches or Parks to do ground study work.At their senior school there is a bursary system where parents can apply for help if needed (not just for families on the poverty line but for families who can just about manage on their income) this can happen to families who have 1 or 6 children.I have always felt these trips are a vital part of their education my DGCs have always enjoyed them,if ever a parent feels they cannot afford a trip for their child they only have to contact the school secretary and they will be considered for funding which is done very discretly.