Wednesday, 15 July 2015

School Trips: Bringing on a Moaning Minnie Moment!

For any of my readers who are worrisome and follow Meanqueen's blog, let me reassure you that she and Rocky are safe and well, holed up on our campsite in deepest darkest Devon.  I haven't taken  any photos yet.  We were too busy yapping!

I've been thinking a little about our own special holiday.  It's now a month away exactly that Lou and I fly to Canada for a North American adventure.  I've been giving thought to how we can make the journeys between Vancouver and Seattle special.  There's seaplanes, ferries, coaches and a scenic train ride to choose from. I'm just trying to work out what will fit into our budget.  The whole three week trip including flights, accommodation, excursions and car hire should come in at well below £5,000.  I'm hoping it will be nearer £4,000.  I'm going to have to be really creative but it's possible for a canny single traveller to pack a lot into a trip if they're careful.

That's why the cost of school trips away irks me.  Louis is away in Normandy for four nights staying in a hostel.  I haven't heard from him as we had a phone crisis just before he left but I'm assuming no news is good news.  I'm sure that he's having a whale of a time.   For what was apparently a money saving exercise, some sadistic insomniac teacher decided that parents should risk life and limb by driving when exhausted to drop their little darlings at school by 2:30am.  We also provided breakfast and a packed lunch for the first day and the boys are expected to buy their own supper on the ferry on Friday evening.  Fair dues to make the trip affordable but the price came in at £420!  Per head, our last whole week in Brittany cost less than that and included a berth on the not inexpensive but convenient overnight ferry between Plymouth and Roscoff.   A quick back of an envelope jobbie shows that, pro rata, price is commensurate with our transatlantic trip, which will includes whale watching, an internal flight and car hire so that we can explore Yellowstone National Park.

Now I want my boy to have this type of educational experience.  Going away without  his parents is a lovely way of increasing his independence and building memories to last a lifetime.  But this is a heartfelt plea to all schools out there as I'm fairly sure from a quick trawl of the internet that I'm not alone in thinking that these trips are often not good value for money . Economies of scale should apply even if the cost of taking teachers is factored into the equation. In these hard times especially, a  little more thought needs to be given to shaving costs. I'm sure that thrifty parents who're used to living on a budget would take on the challenge if  staff really find it that difficult!

10 comments:

  1. £420 is cheap where we are for a school trip. In the last 3 years my son has been offered 3 nights in Italy for £1,000 half board and excluding spending money, £1,200 for three nights in Iceland, £600 for a weekend in France excluding evening meals and spending money (and one day was to be spent shopping), £2,000 for a week in Russia. We haven't had a family holiday (except camping) in three years so needless to say, we couldn't afford to send him. Now the school is planning a trip to America. What really makes me rant, is that it's a comprehensive school and there are never any affordable, local trips made available to those who can't afford the 4 figure trips. And they always seem to spend at least one day of the trip at a theme park!!!!!

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  2. Thomson Holidays do several weekend breaks (3 nights) to Iceland for £355, which makes £1,200 seem a little steep. They do loads of other destinations too, all much cheaper than you quote above.

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    1. I know - it's crazy. I don't know why these school trips are so expensive.

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  3. My two have both enjoyed a school trip each (in the UK) with their separate year groups and it has cost over £500. Not easy for a single parent on a low wage. Thank goodness for working Tax credit. Without it we would not survive.

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  4. I live south of Seattle. The train would be probably your best option of going from Seattle to Vancouver. The coach ride is on the freeway which is pretty but still a freeway. Most of the ferries go to Victoria or to the San Juan Islands. The seaplane would also be really fun but a little pricier. Are you staying in downtown Vancouver?

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    1. Yes we are in downtown Vancouver and staying with two sets of friends in Seattle. I think I've already decided to go train at least one way. With regard to the ferry I was thinking of making a day of the journey maybe using it for the journey from Seattle to Victoria and then coach/seaplane into Vancouver (orvice versa). The seaplane may rule itself out anyway because it has a very small luggage allowance and I'm not sure how much stuff we are taking!

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  5. Teacher here - I understand your concern, but school trips are a bit different. Firstly, the cost of the supervising staff is borne by the students. This cost can be high, because if it is during term time, it will include the cost of substitute teachers back at school. Also, school trips are usually organised by a company, which will always cost more than individual travel. Often the group is large, and this limits the range of accommodation. Supervision issues count too - some accommodation options are ruled out because it isn't possible to separate boys/girls sleeping areas adequately, or the accommodation is too spread out to allow supervision at the level mandated by education departments.

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    1. Our school doesn't organise substitute teachers. My son was left without a teacher for one week, then another teacher the following week due to 2 school trips. Classes aren't even supervised sometimes.

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    2. No not good enough excuse. There are 100 kids on this trip so economies of scale do apply. Plus friend's kid is going on similar trip to Normandy and staying in hotels yet paying £290. Also my son's school is boys only so boy/girl split does not apply. Are these companies pricing things fairly. I almost feel like setting one up myself. I'm absolutely certain that I could do better x

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    3. My sister works in a school 5 hours away from us and their school trips are half the cost of ours. Can't understand it.

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