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School Trips – what are parents really concerned about?

Lunch boxes at the ready, the coach has arrived and the race is on for the back seat! Some of our greatest childhood memories have come from our school trip experiences. A trip to the local history museum, building sand castles down the beach, there has always been an excitement around learning something outside the four walls of a classroom!

So what has changed for our children? There is certainly a larger variety of available trips that range in price and subject matter. The term ‘educational trips’ has been expanded to not only include trips that focus on national curriculum topics, but also aim to provide children with better social and life skills. In today’s post we speak to Lauren (Parent of 4, Year 2, 5 and 8) to explore what parents are really concerned about when it comes to school trips.

Do you believe school trips have become more expensive?

“I would never let my children go without, but school trips can be expensive, particularly as the kids get older. You also can’t let one child go on a school trip and then not let the other and being a mother of 4, this can become costly.”

Primary schools typically have domestic field trips but secondary schools trips can range from skiing in the French Alps to visiting historic landmarks such as the tapestry in Normandy, and experiencing first hand cultural practices and key issues for communities in Africa to learning about the geography and geology of Iceland.

“You do feel the pressure from children, particularly when all their friends are going” There is often money in the pot for families from lower economic backgrounds within Primary schools and installment plans for more expensive trips, however, there is still a growing concern for parents who simply can’t afford the trips and don’t want their children to miss out.

The concern from parents isn’t the cost of the trips themselves, but the worry of what social effect this may have on their children who cannot go on the ‘best’ school trips.

The lesson that you cannot always have what you want in life, can come early for some children and whilst a valuable lesson, could ultimately mean your child may be missing out on an educational experience. However, as parents, we sometimes use these opportunities to encourage our children to work that little bit harder for the reward of an excursion (particularly the costly ones!), encouraging children to do chores to earn extra pocket money, incentivise good grades and with the older children perhaps even a part-time job.

Do you have any concerns about your children going on residential trips?

“Of course… call that motherly nature”. Parents are naturally worried about their children going on residential trips, particularly to remote and overseas destinations. Different schools have a range of methods to keep parents aware of children’s activities but these methods could be improved! “One school set up a closed Facebook group to share pictures of their children’s activities over the weekly residential trip, but not everyone is on Facebook!”, Lauren mentioned. ‘Although it wouldn’t prevent me from allowing my children to go on school trips, better ways to communicate during the trip would give me greater peace of mind!”

In addition, improved communication from the school about what the trip entails and more frequent communication in the countdown to an overseas trip would help parents feel more at ease.

Do you think there is less value in trips that do not offer a clear educational value?

“Certainly not, I think there needs to be a balance; but social trips provide incentives for children to achieve well in class whilst providing them the opportunity to have fun with friends!”, she spoke of children being rewarded with social school trips if the class behaved exceptionally well.

For families on tight budgets, overseas school trips have an added benefit – to enable a child to travel that may not otherwise be possible and in particular, explore countries and places that may not be typical holiday destinations.

The real ‘value’ of school trips is one that is much deeper than meets the eye, and trips that involve the opportunity for children to learn social and communication skills are just as important as those that teach subject specific matters.

What is your view? What are your biggest concerns when it comes to letting your children go on school trips? We would love to hear your thoughts, methods and suggestions for other parents in the mySircles community.