School trips give parents headaches

Kate Livingstone
Kate Livingstone

The phrase “when I was a girl” makes me sound like Methuselah, but in this case I make no excuses for using it.

When I was a girl if we got a primary school trip to Edinburgh Zoo or Wallace’s Monument we thought we were doing well.

The excitement grew as the outing approached and there would be no problem getting us out the door for school when the eagerly-awaited day dawned.

Once we reached high school things got slightly more adventurous with trips to Aviemore for ski-ing for those whose parents could afford the expense.

When my two were that age, outings had become slightly more ‘glamorous’ – that’s if you consider over 24 hours on a bus to Disneyland Paris the high life. But they had a ball and that’s the main thing.

However, they usually had to steep in the bath for some time when they returned. The soap and sponge were always conspicuously dry when I emptied their bags.

Then there was the time Emma had been at the outdoor centre for a week where it rained for the entire time. The school asked all the parents to meet them in the hall and brought in black bin bags full of their very, very mucky outdoor clothing which we had to pick up.

I think it took me about half a dozen washes to get her jacket back to anything resembling something I would let her wear again.

Teachers always sell school trips on the basis of their educational benefits, but I admit that for some families it can’t be easy to find the money.

A friend once had four children all going on trips during the school session and that summer the family holiday was day-trips because of the money that had already been spent.

And it’s not just paying for the outing itself, there is the cost of clothes and the inevitable new trainers, as well as spending money.

No-one wants their child to be the odd one out, but sometimes people really have to make sacrifices and I’m not sure if teachers and schools quite appreciate that.

Which is why I was almost speechless when I read that a school in Leeds which is asking parents to fork out £1650 for a sports trip to ... Barbados!

Apparently they’ve been quick to say it’s not compulsory, but tell that to the families facing the plea from offspring to let them attend.