Recent cancellation of trips
Firstly I understand how disappointing the decisions have been to cancel some of our school trips recently. Unfortunately Department for Education guidance clearly sets out how schools can charge for trips and visits. To help explain this I have copied their statement about 'Voluntary Contributions' below and placed in italics how we do this in school:
Nothing in legislation prevents a school governing body or local authority from asking for voluntary contributions for the benefit of the school or any school activities. However, if the activity cannot be funded without voluntary contributions, the governing body or head teacher should make this clear to parents at the outset – our letters for trips state that if there are insufficient contributions then the trip will be cancelled. The governing body or head teacher must also make it clear to parents that there is no obligation to make any contribution – this is why we cannot make a statement saying that payment is compulsory.
It is important to note that no child should be excluded from an activity simply because his or her parents are unwilling or unable to pay – for this reason we are unable to make payments for trips compulsory or exclude children if their family does not pay. If insufficient voluntary contributions are raised to fund a visit, or the school cannot fund it from some other source, then it must be cancelled – this is the reason for the cancellation of our recent trips. Schools must ensure that they make this clear to parents – as mentioned earlier, we state this on our letters and reminders about trips. If a parent is unwilling or unable to pay, their child must still be given an equal chance to go on the visit – again, this is why we cannot exclude a child from the trip if their family does not pay. Schools should make it clear to parents at the outset what their policy for allocating places on school visits will be - we state this on our trip letters and full details are set out in our Charrging Policy which can be fouind in the poilicies section of our website.
When making requests for voluntary contributions, parents must not be made to feel pressurised into paying as it is voluntary and not compulsory. Schools should avoid sending colour coded letters to parents as a reminder to make payments and direct debit or standing order mandates should not be sent to parents when requesting contributions.
(Taken from ‘Charging for school activities’, Department for Education, October 2014)
I hope the above national guidance for all schools helps answer any concerns parents may have about our procedures for charging for school trips. As I am sure you can see from the statement above, we are unable to change our current procedures in any way that would go against this information from the DfE.
I understand from feedback from parents that there are a number of families who believe that they do not need to pay for trips and visits as “School always pay for them anyway”. Unfortunately this is not the case as can be seen from the recent cancellations we have had to regrettably make.
I thank those families who have always supported the school by paying for trips in the past and hope you will do so in the future. If you are unable to pay for a trip then I would always urge you to discuss this with the School Office.
Kind regards, Mr Hanley