Russ Brown

Children's Author

upright pops

By russbrownauthor, Jan 27 2013 03:10PM

My previous posting received 2000 individual views and for that I am immensely proud thank you. You may like to hear that the snow I was deprived of came later than expected but it came with a vengeance.

The following is a little British school based but stick with it and let me know what happens where you are no matter what country you live in.

It is the term that I normally dread as a teacher, I love Christmas and Summer terms as the children really enjoy being at school but this middle term for me has all the annoying bits of winter and none of the fun of Summer. However for the past few years that has changed all due to a few days within this term….the days of my classes residential break.

This is, in honesty, 3 solid days of half paid work for me and my other staff and perhaps the most tiring 3 days since I had infant children but they are still 3 of the best. The fact for that is simple the children love it and gain so much from it that it is almost a priceless educational resource. But that is where the crux of this blog posting lies, the price of these excursions. Fuel and insurance alone have increased this trip by almost 25% in 4 years and that in itself can be too much for schools and parents to swallow.

We as a school are using charitable donations and pupil premium to gather up the slack but that in itself is not enough. I do not work in a particularly deprived area; they are good working class people with honest working class values who strive hard to provide for their families. It is understandable; therefore when any ask by school for money is met with concern, speculation and questions.

My school provide a wide range of opportunities for children to go on trips and residentials and parents pay approx. 70% of the total cost. However invaluable that these trips are the facts are simple, the majority of schools cannot continue to assume parents have deep pockets. Furthermore schools budgets cannot stretch much further anymore.

We provide four trips over four years and the total cost of all four stands at approx. £600 and rising. If, like some parents at my school, you have 3 children in KS2 it can cost £450 a years for 3 years. That to be fair is not really acceptable for 3 days of experience is it? We have seen a massive decline in parent’s interest in these trips and even have muted the possibility of cancelling one due to low uptake, but this was met with concern by teachers, children and parents alike.

One of the local schools in year 7 does a European skiing trip which, without clothing and equipment, costs in excess of £700 per child for 4 nights. This is surely not sustainable in times of austerity is it? Plus it either pushes parents into unnecessary debt or creates two levels of children, those who can and those who can’t. Creating a class system within the one establishment that those levels should be avoided altogether. Now I am not saying trips should be financially elitist or cancelled altogether I am just saying now may be the time to “cut our cloth accordingly”.

Now before I get hundreds of my teacher followers telling me the benefits far outweigh the costs I completely agree but the facts are simple. My classroom budget for consumable basics and all other resources is less than £100 per year that is for the other 38 weeks of the year. Yes the residential is invaluable for the children, yes they have memories that last for a long time, but would we achieve more by putting all of that additional funding that schools have to subsidise for these trips back into the classroom and plan more low budget trips than something which sucks on the budget and parents pockets and goodwill alike?

I know this is a rather teacher based blog this week but it is something that has been nagging at me for a number of weeks now and the majority of followers are either educationalist or parents, or both. I would like your viewpoint on this and what you feel would be a suitable balance for KS2.

Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you soon.


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