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Sociology in the News: School trips could be axed

Vicki Woolven

14th September 2022

Pupils could miss out on school trips and music lessons, in a bid to keep teaching staff, as schools face rising costs this year. But what does this mean for cultural capital?

As school leaders grapple with staffing costs and rising energy bills, they are facing huge budget decisions. Many have admitted that they would choose to lose school trips and music lessons if it meant they could afford to retain staff, and some school leaders have admitted that they are worried about the prospect of bankruptcy!

Running schools trips is an expensive affair - for both schools and parents and carers. You have to factor in transport costs (which are also rising due to increasing fuel costs), entry tickets and then the cost of covering staff on the trip. Some schools factor this additional cost into what they charge students, but many school in poorer areas don't as they know it then makes the trip too expensive for families. Schools also have to ensure that they make it clear in trip letters that the cost of curriculum trips is a voluntary donation, and whilst most families will pay this, some won't or can't, which means the school foots the bill.

As a result schools are choosing to cut back on their trip provision as they simply can't afford to meet these costs. But cancelling trips hits the poorest students hardest - their parents often can't afford to take them to museum or galleries, or to take them to abroad to experience different cultures, which has a huge impact on the cultural capital of these students. These are also the students whose parents can't afford to pay for instrumental lessons, meaning that they have less access to the arts than their middle class peers.

Rising costs

Most teachers will see a well overdue pay rise of 5% this year, which has to be paid for from existing schools budgets. This is putting pressure on those already tight school budgets. However some schools are predicted to see a 300-400% increase in their energy bills as energy prices sky-rocket this winter, with schools not protected by the price cap that applies to households (although to be honest I think most of us would agree that the price cap is not protecting anything!).

Across the country headteachers are looking at ways to trim their budgets - from cancelling school plays and carol services, to halting maintenance work on outside spaces, to reducing the provision of swimming lessons. All of these actions will have a huge impact on the provision of extra-curricular opportunities, but also the fostering of community - both so important to schools, and in particular to low income families. And if these actions can't help schools fight the threat of going thousands of pounds into debt, then cuts will be paid to vital support staff, and even teachers.

Supporting families

The cost-of-living crisis has also increased the numbers of parents and carers who are reaching out to schools in need of assistance, with families being unable to afford food, or those in rural areas unable to afford to get their children into school because of rising fuel costs. School leaders have a duty of care to these vulnerable families in their community so are often digging into the school budget to help them, meaning that this vital lifeline they offer to their families is putting schools into an even more precarious position.

Read the full article here -

Vicki Woolven

Vicki Woolven is Subject Lead for Key Stage 4 Humanities at tutor2u. Vicki previously worked as a Head of Geography and Sociology for many years, leading her department to be one of the GA's first Centres of Excellent, and has been a content writer, senior examiner and local authority Key Practitioner for Humanities.

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