School trips still a priority for schools despite tight budgets - though many are feeling the pinch
- Credit: Archant Library
School trips are still going strong in the region, a survey has found, despite warnings that squeezed budgets could see education confined to the classroom.
There are fears that rising school costs and greater demands on teachers could see beloved trips sacrificed to make ends meet, with unions around the country warning they are already being axed.
But our survey of 79 schools in the region has found that the outings have, for the time being, survived the tough climate in this part of the world.
All of the headteachers or school leaders who responded took schoolchildren on a trip last year, with 74pc organising five or more in that period.
Just shy of half, 46pc, said the number of school trips organised at school had stayed the same over the last five years, with 34pc saying the number had actually risen and just 19pc saying it had fallen.
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But schools said, where it had dipped, a shortage of cash was the main reason, with a rise in paperwork, lack of time and fewer staff cited as other factors.
When asked to share their thoughts on trips, headteachers said they were 'integral', 'fundamental' and allowed children to 'blossom as individuals'.
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One said: 'School trips are a crucial part of the school experience. They can help children to forge new friendships and experience amazing new things. Time should always be made for them.'
But many admitted that tightening budgets were fast becoming a factor, with one school saying they were considering cutting back.
'Increasing transport costs are starting to impact on the cost of trips and the tightening of school budgets does not leave enough spare funding to make up the shortfall,' they said.
Another agreed that the biggest barrier was securing funding and, like many schools, said they relied on donations from parents.
But when asked how important trips are to a child's education on a scale of one to five, just over three quarters of respondents chose number one - very important.
And 96pc said there is still time for trips in education today.
Exploring a museum is the most popular reason to organise a school trip, the survey found.
In total, 84pc of schools have run a trip to see a museum, while 73pc have done so to see the natural environment.
Other popular reasons included the theatre (70pc), a historic landmark (58pc), place of worship (54pc), beach (49pc) or sports tournament (67pc).
A fifth of respondents, 20pc, said London was the furthest they had taken children, though Iceland, St Albans and the Netherlands were listed as other destinations.
The majority of trips, 65pc, organised in the last academic year took place in Norfolk or Suffolk, though 18pc travelled further afield in England, 7pc visited Europe and 10pc selected 'other'.
When asked their thoughts on school trips, leaders said they are 'vital' for children and often 'the most talked about aspect' of the curriculum, with visits to parliament by train cited as a good example of an enriching experience.
There are a handful of sights and spots which are part and parcel of school trips in Norfolk and Suffolk.
A day off for the Royal Norfolk Show, an afternoon exploring How Hill and an exhilarating trip to Pleasurewood Hills are perhaps some of the more familiar.
And aside from the typical ferry to France or drive to Derbyshire, beachcombing for geography and skiing weekend, when we asked readers to share their memories of school visits, a handful of local attractions popped up again and again.
They included Hethersett's historic Kett's Oak, the medieval Norwich Castle and the farm and workhouse at Gressenhall.
A handful of readers shared memories of getting the cane during a Victorian day at Holt Hall, while trips to Felbrigg Hall and Thetford Forest were also class favourites.
The county's coastal connections are also well-utilised, with more than one reader reminiscing on school time cruises.
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