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Trips and outings – what are they worth?

April 17, 2018

Trips and outings – what are they worth?


This Easter we have had a group of forty pupils and staff away on a ski trip in Europe whilst another group, this time also including parents, left for a ten-day trip to India. A few weeks ago most of Year 9 visited the battlefields of Northern Europe for a day and, in the Spring half-term break, many of our Year 11s, enjoyed a cultural visit to New York City.


Group photo infront of the iconic Taj Mahal

Group photo in front of the iconic Taj Mahal

Are ski trips ridiculous and showing off?

Loving the snow!

Loving the snow!

So, why am I listing all this (a mere ‘snapshot’ of visits, trips and outings our pupils enjoy annually)? It’s because I read an article in the ‘I’ newspaper by Ms Jenny Eclair decrying ski trips as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘anything more exotic’ than a trip to the local baths to learn to swim ‘is just showing off’. She continues: ‘Expensive trips involving air fares are offensive and divisive, because the fact some children can’t afford to go on a class outing is horrific’.

Ms Eclair is entitled to her view and she does at least finish her article with the words,

‘the most important thing that any child should learn on a school trip is not to eat your packed lunch before 11am’.

She also admits to spending her own sixth form outing to art galleries in London buying a skirt in Topshop and does concede that outings to theatres and galleries are worthwhile even if the children only really want to visit the gift shop. I do accept that some of what Ms Eclair writes is tongue in cheek (at least I hope so) but I am more concerned that she has missed the point entirely of trips away from your own locality, time and space.

Raising money to visit ‘a new world’

Kenya party 2013 low res

I accept that some parents are more able than others to pay for ‘exotic trips’ but I am not convinced that because some can’t afford these that, therefore, no-one should go on them. I suppose this means that as not everyone can afford to run their own car that we should all use public transport all the time? In my experience, many of the pupils (and their parents) going on so-called ‘exotic trips’ scrimp and save, fund raise and go without other treats in order to experience a ‘new world’, a different culture and an opportunity to expand their horizons. Our bi-annual trip to Kenya, for example, necessitates a massive amount of fundraising partly for the individual concerned (cake sales, car washes, babysitting…) and also for the less well-off community they are going out to help. The advantages here are mutually beneficial.

The importance of residential trips

Trips which are more focussed on a single experience (such as a sports’ tour or a ski trip) are also of value. Many pupils are rarely away from home overnight (except for the ‘sleepovers’ after parties) and so an opportunity for a residential trip is not to be missed. These trips allow for both an experience of community-living and common sharing whilst also encouraging independence and self-reliance away from home – and this is all without considering the benefits of the sport, the scenery, the culture and the challenge of being in another setting.

Ms Eclair appears to think that pupils today should only experience what she did in the 1970s – a visit to Fleetwood Docks (taking your own sandwiches) and the occasional Sixth Form gallery visit with time to sneak off to the shops – and whilst I accept that not all trips are of equal value I do feel that most are of inestimable worth. I, too, was at school in the 1970s and one experience that especially remains with me was a visit to the Soviet Union as part of a History A level trip. I learnt, amongst much else, the value of money (raising the cost of the trip and also then seeing the deprivation in parts of the USSR), the importance of individual freedoms and the stimulus of a foreign culture, rich in history.

So, by all means think very carefully about a trip on offer and weigh up its costs against its likely benefits. Don’t despise the opportunities beyond your own locality, by all means guard your sandwiches carefully but… why not also embrace the unknown and live a little?

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here.

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