School Trip Funding

School trips are an incredibly important part of school life, and really help children to make the connection between what they are learning inside the classroom, and the wider world. Trips can inspire pupils at all key stages, from KS1 visits to a museum where they can view and touch objects that have been discussed as part of history lessons, to KS4 science trips to places like CERN, where students can observe world leading research in action.

How much do school trips cost?

Unfortunately, school trips are rarely free, and for schools and parents, the financial cost of outside the classroom learning can be prohibitive. Places like English Heritage, and CADW in Wales offer free access for self-led school visits, but even then there is the cost of travel between school and venue. Schools are forced to restrict and prioritise trips despite knowing that their benefits are proven and observable.

A typical day trip will range in cost from £10 to £80 per pupil. This is the cost of entry to the actual venue, though the cost of coach hire if your school does not have access to a minibus or two is likely to add a few hundred pounds to the total cost for the class. Residential trips lasting five days can range from £200 to over £1000 depending whether it is a UK trip or an overseas trip. Some schools have been coming under fire in the media in recent months for asking parents to fund trips well in excess of a thousand pounds.

Who pays for school trips?

While most people assume that the parents always pay, in many cases the school have to find sources of funding for trips. Activities which take place during school hours, whether that is inside or outside the classroom, are supposed to be funded by the school, though they often ask parents for a voluntary contribution.

What sources of funding are available?

One of the most accessible ways to subsidise a school trip is through local authority funding for low-income families. Some LEAs have been operating a waived fees scheme allowing money to be repaid to pupils eligible for free school meals.

Community or charitable trust funding may exist in your area, especially if it is an area suffering a high level of unemployment, and is well worth investigating. These funding schemes are often set up with the goal of improving educational engagement and achievement and may be backed by local businesses.

Some times there are grants and bursaries direct from venues. The YHA operates ‘Breaks for Kids’, which can offer financial support for children who would not otherwise be able to afford to take part in a school trip. The Ski Club of Great Britain have a bursary scheme that any school can apply for, and which can significantly reduce the cost of a school ski trip.

NCCL have some good fundraising ideas, and make the very good point of simply looking out for special offers! Some places want to get bookings pencilled in and will offer early bird discounts, while others will have low season or last minute availability that may be heavily discounted, so do try to be as flexible as possible on dates if you want the best price.