Trips & Visits

Trips & Visits

School trips & visits planning: The information and issues related to school trips & visits were discussed at a well attended parent's meeting on the 29th February 2016. Issues connected to when trips were arranged were discussed, including term time or not term time trips.

Why create a schedule? When fully ready, the schedule will give an idea to parents and carers of the variety and costs of educational visits from school over the next 4 years.

Terminology: I have used the term 'educational visit' as a generic term describing all events. Some of these are arranged to fall within school weeks and some during school holidays. Although all of the events have an intrinsic educational value, some have a direct link to the curriculum. Where there are charges for these, the school policy on charging and remissions must be referred to.

Looking ahead: This is a good starting point in illustrating to parents what is likely to be available. We cannot foresee all possibilities and, for example, there are sometimes Archdiocese events having a relatively short lead in time. Also typical of this is the schools Diamond Jubilee in 2017 and it is likely that something will be arranged to celebrate this.

Considering the issues: To further illustrate some of the issues to consider with trips, I would ask you to contemplate Skiing; currently this is a biannual event taking place in the Easter holiday. Anyone who has skied will know prices are much higher in the holidays and ski lift queues can be impossible with the sheer volume of people on the slopes. This militates against a good experience for children learning to ski. Should this be allowed in a school week? There may be a lobby from some parents who might argue that this contradicts any approach in dealing with parents who take their children out of school during term time. I am not giving a definitive answer, simply raising the issues.

Giving children a chance: I believe that our overall aim should be to provide enrichment opportunities for young people which broaden horizons, add to the ethos of the school, give pupils something to aim for and to provide long lasting memories transcending grades and qualifications which all too easily dominate our lives as teachers. Inevitably there is always a situation of affordability and there have been high profile cases of expensively planned visits effectively causing a division between those that can afford and those that are unable to afford. Whilst it is important to be very aware of this, my own belief is that ultimately it is a parent/carer decision to involve their child in a trip. For as long as I remember schools have supported cases of hardship when there is clear evidence that there is a need ...... but this does not mean laying out £800 for individuals or groups to 'level the playing field'. At the end of the day, families have to live within their means and St Mary's remains committed to providing enriching educational experiences including visits to mainland Europe, Iceland and (possibly in the future) intercontinental experiences.

Year 11*: The last year in school for Year 11 is very hectic. Our broad rule will be that we will not sanction trips for Year 11 pupils in the future. In the immediate interim the schedule may include a couple of exceptions relating to missed experiences for pupils in the current Year 10 (at May 2016). Even in these cases, we are saying that the visits have to be in school holiday time*.

Rewards: Parents/Carers will be aware that I have invited comments on recent reward experiences. This has included a trip to the Trafford Centre. The 5th February 2016 visit went without hitch. It was totally safe and did reward pupils ..... but not all pupils eligible. I uphold the justified critique from some parents that for those who earned the reward but did not to attend (either by choice or affordability) there were meager pickings. I understand claims that this was divisive and so I know that we need to find better and fairer ways of rewarding pupils. This takes nothing away from the excellent work done in planning & organising such an event for large numbers of pupils.

Duke of Edinburgh: St Mary's has an enviable tradition of supporting pupils through Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Currently we do not have the capacity to deal with this effectively but it is my intention to build up this capacity as soon as possible. I very much see the value of such experiences but in the short term I have to consider the health and safety risks and responsibility in organising such activities.

Parent/Carer Views: I always welcome parent views on all school matters. It will not be possible to open debates on all such issues in the future. I hope that you agree that you wish your sons and daughters to attend a happy, confident and enriching school and it is clear that St Mary's is rapidly regaining its confidence and ability to inspire young people-something that historically was the hallmark of a successful and thriving school community.

Please click on the links for more information about trips:

Ski Trip 2018 Letter

Charging and Remissions Policy

Educational Visits Policy

Trips & Visits 2016-20

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