It could be argued that the benefits of educational visits hugely outweigh any costs, as they are an incredibly important part of school life, and can be an invulable way to help children to make the connection between what they are learning inside the classroom, and the wider world.
Unfortunately school trips are rarely free, and for some schools and parents the financial cost of outside the classroom learning can be prohibitive. Some attractions 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 typically range in cost from £10 to £80 per pupil. Additionally, the cost of coach hire (if your school does not have access to a minibus) is likely to add several hundred pounds to the overall cost for the class; teachers have told us that this is usually the most expensive part of the trip, often accounting for around 50% of the total cost. Residential trips lasting five days can range from £200-£350.
While most people assume that the parents always pay, in reality the school will often 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.
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.
Sometimes there are grants and bursaries available, 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 Arts Council England also offers a number of grants including those for schools - you can find out more on their website.
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.