How much??? The real cost of expensive school trips
No longer limited to the realms of elite private schools, residential school trips to far off and exotic destinations are rapidly becoming the norm across secondary and even primary schools across the country. Gorilla spotting in Borneo, film studies trips to Hollywood and netball trips to Sri Lanka – it seems nowhere is off limits, and nothing is too much. But who really benefits from these trips? Are we really giving our children new and important educational opportunities that will benefit them in the long term? Or are these expensive school trips yet another financial pressure parents could do without? Another measure of division in the classroom?
Of course you could make the argument both ways, but it’s the frustrated and angry voices of the disbelieving parents that are coming out loudest in the national press. The Guardian cite incredulous parents reporting thousands spent on activities that don’t always link to the curriculum. And you can’t help but chuckle along with The Independent’s Jenny Éclair as she compares her local kindergarten’s trip to Starbucks with her school trip to Fleetwood Docks, complete with a carrier bag of sandwiches. She makes a valid point – are ski trips really necessary? Unlike swimming lessons, will it really benefit our children to learn how to ski? Or are we just setting them up for a lifetime of expensive holidays they will feel they should aspire to?
The real cost of expensive school trips
The divisive nature of these school trips is of course the real problem that children, parents and schools are faced with. Classrooms divided into the haves and have nots. The social pressure of being able to afford to send your school on a trip so they don’t miss out. The impact on the parents struggling financially to meet these growing demands, as well as the impact on the children that miss out and face the humiliation of not being able to afford a place on the trip their friends are enjoying.
School trips can be meaningful AND inclusive
The problem with the expensive school trip argument is that often all school trips get lumped into the ‘not necessary or justified’ category, in favour of ensuring equality, affordability and accessibility for all. The truth is however that school trips are important, can make a real difference to children’s learning, and can absolutely be delivered at a cost that is accessible for all families regardless of their socioeconomic background.
These are just a few examples of low-cost trips with high-end educational rewards and benefits:
- Keep it local. You don’t need to travel far to provide students with a meaningful educational experience. Instead of travelling to Ypres for a WW1 learning trip, children could get just as much from visiting their local war memorial, perhaps meeting local veterans or their family members to hear first-hand stories and accounts, or a visit to a nearby war museum.
- Museums / art galleries. A trip to a museum / art gallery has many educational advantages, as well as supporting these non-profit organisations to ensure they can continue to function. And of course it’s important to teach children the value of a trip to your local museum / art gallery, as it’s often these school trips that encourage an appreciation for art and culture as they get older.
- Day trips. With the option of the ferry / Eurostar / tunnel to choose from, it’s never been easier to hop over to France for a day of practising your ‘Ou est la gare?’ and still be back home in time for bed.
- Keep it real. Don’t lose sight of why you’re planning your trip. If it’s an understanding and appreciation of nature and wildlife you’re looking to instil, you don’t need to schlep all the way to Botswana for an African safari. You will have a host of local wildlife and areas of natural beauty right on your doorstep.
At Wildchild we are passionate about connecting children with nature and helping them discover the wonder of the great outdoors. So we say, forget the expensive flights and hotels – grab a sleeping bag, a waterproof jacket and a pair of wellies and come join us on a journey of discovery and adventure that’s accessible for everyone.
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