The Great School Trip Debate – Who Pays?

Posted on 8th June 2011 in school trips

As I searched for £17 this morning to cover the cost of a school trip, a memory popped into my head of a conversation I’d had with another parent about paying for school trips.

Essentially, this person, who was the secretary of the PTA, said that they NEVER paid for school trips and that payment was actually voluntary… According to them all school trips go ahead irrespective of payments received from parents.

A brief chat with @ChrisandHarvey this morning revealed that they’d been told the same thing.

As I sit here looking at the cost of trips this term for one of my children:


That’s £272 worth of trips for one of my children for June, July & November – there will of course be other trips and I have 2 children.

I am also a single mum. Not that that is the issue here – although as an aside I do find it odd that some people on benefits qualify for free school meals, music lessons etc but there isn’t a similar dispensation for school trips.

My question is – do you pay for school trips? Do you know someone who doesn’t – and if so do your/their children still get to go?


  • Reply rugbymadsdad 8th June 2011 at 11:17 am

    My mother refused to pay for me to go on school trips, i know it was a long long time ago but the school still took me, including a day trip to France and a residential course for Geography which was part of the O Level course. My understanding now is that the payment is voluntary and if you cant afford to pay the school will still take the child. In some areas i believe receiving free school meals helps with school trips. Unfortunately its all down to cost and what the school can afford.

    • Reply CoffeeCurls 8th June 2011 at 2:21 pm

      Thank you so much for commenting – this is obviously an issue that has been going on for many years! I’m glad you still got to go on your trips :)

  • Reply Him Up North 8th June 2011 at 11:31 am

    Schools cannot make parents pay for trips undertaken during school time, simple as. They can ask for a voluntary contribution, and they can cancel a trip if there is insufficient support for it, but no parent HAS TO pay. By the same token, no pupil of a non-paying parent should suffer any personal disadvantage (ie be told they can’t go).

    The residential is slightly different because it takes place overnight (or several nights). Even so, schools should have regard for low income families, perhaps by asking a reduced fee.

    Schools have received guidance on this, but many play fast and loose by not making it clear payment is voluntary.

    The other side of the coin is schools are cash strapped and need to balance that with providing an enriched curriculum, which is why trips are organised which rely on contributions. If everyone said “no” lots of activities would not happen.

    Golly, I’ve gone on a bit there. :)

    • Reply CoffeeCurls 8th June 2011 at 2:22 pm

      Feel free to go on HUN :o) I’m finding this really interesting as a friend of mine who (after hearing from the secretary of the PTA that they never pay) refused to pay for a school trip recently and her child was publicly shown up in front of whole class and told she wouldn’t be going if her mum didn’t pay!

      • Reply Him Up North 8th June 2011 at 3:51 pm

        That parent should complain to the head teacher because that is just plain wrong.

        • Reply CoffeeCurls 8th June 2011 at 3:53 pm

          The head of that school is an arse unfortunately, truly a jumped up little wotsit with a very inflated idea of himself – would be a complete waste of time!

  • Reply fleetwoodboy 8th June 2011 at 11:35 am

    No you don’t have to pay for school trips , however if not enough parents contribute the trip could be cancelled. By not paying you are relying on other parents to pay. #not a criticism of anybody just a comment

    • Reply CoffeeCurls 8th June 2011 at 2:23 pm

      Think what you’ve said applies really well to society as a whole too Stephen! x

  • Reply Pippy 8th June 2011 at 7:46 pm


    I have a friend who lost everything due to her partner’s bankruptcy – her school (a church school if that makes a difference?) do help her but not fully.

    When I was on a PTA we decided to have a fund, like a bursary I suppose. And parents who couldn’t pay for a school event/trip or felt they would like to be considered for help with costs for what ever reason could apply for help from the PTA fund.

    Applicants remained anonymous, the only people who knew who had applied were the people who applied and a single point of contact ( member of staff) who was put in charge of managing and forwarding ‘anonymous’ written applications. These applications were decided upon by 2 people selected randomly from a known pool of 6 or so, known to the headmaster and the PTA chairman and a governor, I think.

    This was to help in fairness. No one would know who had applied or who had accepted/refused an applications. The PTA would then pay the school directly the monies agreed from it’s fund.

    Another school I’ve experience of had a savings scheme for trips. Weekly or monthly contributions being made over an 18 month period prior to a costly trip. I’m not sure how this money is kept separate /managed though.

    The amounts are huge. My son’s doing a camp this year (2 nights) and its costing us £100. In the past though (at a different school) I’ve been quite annoying to the teachers about school trips and I’ve not always sent funding. When its seems a strange choice or something I wouldn’t want my son to do with me, eg a commercial opportunity against my ethics/values, I ask the educational rationale of the trip, then I have a valid reason why I don’t wish to pay. (on both occasions he was still taken though, A Disney Movie & a Visit to the Bear Factory).

    Sorry its long. Px

    • Reply CoffeeCurls 8th June 2011 at 7:57 pm

      I love that it’s long – thank you!

      Some brilliant ideas there for schools – think I will pass the suggestions there on to my friend and also to my children’s school. I find it really interesting that even though you were a part of all of that you still at some point held off payment for some trips. I hope it focused your school on the more educational benefits of trips.

      Thanks again xx

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