Poorer pupils missing out on residential school trips

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: iStock

Schools with higher numbers of pupils on free school meals (FSM) run fewer residential trips, according to research published this week.

A survey of around 400 secondary school leaders found that state-funded schools are running an average of 2.8 residential trips a year.

This is higher than the independent school average of 2.4 residential trips a year. However, the research suggests that schools with the highest number of students on FSM run on average 1.9 trips a year, compared to 2.9 for those with low FSM numbers.

The findings echo a research report from think-tank LKMco last year. It found that only one in five secondary and primary pupils go on residential trips each year and that students in the most disadvantaged areas had the fewest opportunities to take part. This was partly due to cost and partly due to the fact that they are more likely to live in areas where fewer residential trips are available.

The latest research, which has been commissioned by the School Travel Forum, a not-for-profit professional trade association for educational travel providers, found that price continues to be the most important factor for those organising trips.

And when asked why schools organise trips, “to illustrate and enhance classroom work” was the top response (83 per cent), followed by “team and relationship building” (70 per cent), “to improve attainment and results” (63 per cent) and “to reward pupils” (54 per cent).

Only 40 per cent of the respondents said that their trips were specifically organised to engage hard-to-reach pupils.

The top destinations for residential trips remain in Western Europe, with the top four being the UK, France, Italy and Spain.

There has been increased interest in certain European countries such as Poland this year which reflects the current focus on the First World War centenary commemorations.

Commenting on the findings about FSM, School Travel Forum chief executive Gill Harvey said: “While this particular finding may not be altogether surprising, it does highlight a current inequity, which is causing further disadvantage to already disadvantaged pupils. It is incredibly important that all children are able to access enriching education opportunities such as school trips.”


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