The soaring price of school trips means many parents are forking out thousands of pounds a year for their children’s excursions – or simply having to kibosh the trip entirely.
One in 10 parents spend more than £1,000 a year on trips while five per cent dish out beyond £3,000 a year – and this figure does not include the cost of school uniform, PE kit and other necessities that may be required.
But despite the majority of parents spending out for the trips, more than three in five believe that organised school trips are unaffordable, according to a report by price comparison website Idealo.
A large amount of parents of school children pay up to £1,000 a year on school trips – yet many believe they are unaffordable
Almost five per cent of parents said that they couldn’t actually afford for their children to go on school trips at all, the survey of 1,800 parents indicated.
The pressure is on for parents to give their child the best possible experiences but that comes at a hefty cost.
Laure Moyle, from West Sussex, is an example of a parent who is struggling to send her two children on the school trips they are offered.
She told This is Money: ‘School trips costs vary greatly, from £15 for a day out to a local place to £980 for a ski trip. I understand the cost of these outings but it’s still a lot of money.’
After the school her children attend sent a list of trip options for the year, Laure was shocked at how much they asked for.
She said: ‘We had to say no to the first option our son was keen on as it was a lot of money for just a few days abroad.
‘While it’s fantastic that the school gives them so many opportunities, there is no way we can say yes to everything.’
Laure Moyle has two children and says the cost of school trips is getting very expensive
The Department of Education’s official advice says that school authorities should inform parents of the support available to them when they are asked for monetary contribution to school trips.
However, there is currently no cap on the amount that schools can charge for a trip – and this appears to be pushing upo costs.
Laure, a self-employed owner of a bespoke cake making service, believes that while it is not nice to disappoint her children, it is teaching them valuable life skills:
She adds: ‘It’s a great life lesson as children start to understand that we all have to make choices.’
She says that she does her best with what she has to help her children but compromising is key.
‘We try to compromise as much as we can and so we ended up agreeing that my son could go on a multi-sport trip to France.
‘But, that year, our daughter also started at the same secondary school and we wanted to be fair and allow her to go on the same trip as her brother if she wants to.
‘All in all, their big school trips this year come to over £1,000.’
‘I can see why not all kids go and that’s with just two kids. Imagine if you have older ones at college or university as well?’
Idealo also counted down the top 10 cities where parents are spending more than £1,000 on trips.
London came top with 22 per cent, Edinburgh comes in second with 13 per cent and Birmingham came third with 10 per cent.
The amount parents are spending on school trips averaged out at £266, proving a real problem to some lower income families.
The Child Poverty Action Group have addressed the issue of expensive school trips by starting a project called ‘Costs of the School Day.’
This highlights problems that children and their parents encounter financially with regards to the school day.
Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action group, said: ‘Saying “no” when your child brings home an invite to a school-trip is something low-income parents dread.
‘As a society we want to give all children equal chances and a good start in life but the reality is some kids do have to forego school trips because there just isn’t enough money at home to cover the cost.’
The charity aims to help schools to remove the barriers that prevent children from low income families taking part and ensure that children are not stigmatised if they come from low income homes.
Garnham said: ‘Children are losing out on enrichment activities they should be entitled to.
‘Many of them will have a working mum or dad – two thirds of children living under the poverty line have at least one parent with a job.’
The Child Poverty Action Group’s research has shown that even families with two parents currently working full time on the national living wage are 11 per cent (£49 per week) short of the income the public defines as an acceptable, no-frills living standard. A single parent comes up 20 per cent short.
Garnham added: ‘Ultimately if we want to give every child access to the learning and social opportunities schools offer – and we should – we must tackle the low-pay, insecure work and exorbitant housing and childcare costs that hold families back.
‘If austerity really is coming to a close, ending the freeze on family benefits and allowing them to rise again with rents and inflation should be an absolute priority.’
The Idealo survey also revealed that aside from the costly trip prices, almost a quarter of parents said they spend more than £100 on school uniform and sports kit for the new school year.
More than a quarter of parents also argue that, as school trips take place during term-time, children should be able to have time off for family holidays.
Many families like to take trips during term time in order to beat soaring prices at busy times, such as the summer holidays. Each year tens of thousands of parents are fined £60 for doing so.