‘School trips out of reach for most parents’

Headmaster at Thomas Gainsborough School, ANL-140520-134731009
Headmaster at Thomas Gainsborough School, ANL-140520-134731009
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A parent has criticised a Sudbury secondary school for organising trip to the US costing nearly £2,000 which he says is “out of the reach of most parents”.

Steve Maguire, from Laburnum Way, Nayland, says he challenged school governors at Thomas Gainsborough School about their enrichment programme, which includes a trip to the US in 2017 available to 40 pupils.

Mr Maguire, who has two children at the school, says the school governors did not agree with him when he said their policy was wrong.

Writing in a blog post called The Academy of Aspiration, he said: “How can a school that has such a broad socio–economic catchment promote such a trip that is out of reach for the overwhelming majority of its pupils?

“There are parents that would make the sacrifice to pay for their children to go on a trip of a lifetime, and I admire them for doing so, however there are other parents that feel that trips for their children to far-flung locations have got somewhat out of hand.”

Mr Maguire said he had asked governors to change their enrichment policy to put a financial cap on school trips or introduce a bursary through its links with local businesses for children who get free school meals.

“They thanked me for my time, but felt that they are more than satisfied with the current enrichment policy.

“They did add, however, that these trips are designed to fuel the aspiration of disadvantaged children, as this will cause them to work harder to be able to afford to go to such exotic places in adulthood.

“An interesting theory, nonetheless, but one that does not conflate with reality,” he added.

School headteacher Wayne Lloyd said Mr Maguire had made a presentation to the school governing body last year about the enrichment policy. “They chose not to agree with him,” he said.

He said the school arranged a range of trips, including the US and China, to various locations at different prices. Parents were also able to pay for trips monthly over a period of time.

“There has been a high demand for this trip to America, following the last one in 2015. We haven’t had any complaints from any other parents about this policy,” he added.

He said comments about trips fuelling aspirations of disadvantaged children may have been the views of an individual governor.