Fit it all in

12th October 2007 at 01:00

Lawrie Lee suggests ways of planning and paying for school trips more easily

Six months ago, our school reviewed how it managed school trips. The result was a plan to clearly divide the workload, and we are now implementing this. We established these principles:

Some things are best done by teachers, such as leading, inspiring, motivating and teaching.

Some things are best done by support staff, such as recording accurately in an agreed format, establishing a budget, working to required deadlines.

Parents need reasonable notice of a trip.

Pupils who have not gone on trips in the past get priority.

Family finances should not exclude pupils.

We use Schooltrip.com, which is an internet based step-by-step trip manager service that helps in planning, advice, finding suppliers and getting governor approval.

Support staff then finalise the budget, tailor a standard letter and send it to parents via schools.com. The letter asks parents to call the bursar if financial reasons prevent them from applying: they may get a rebate on their contribution.

We use ParentPay, a secure online service, to pay for a trip online by debit card. The finance office also enters physical chequescash on this database, which combines cash recording and the trip list. Every entry gives the unique pupil number.

The unique pupil numbers are then copied into a spreadsheet linked to our central pupil database, producing an instant final trip list. As well as a checklist of "remember to takes" and important trip data, the list will contain the latest parental contact numbers and medical information for each pupil.

Two copies go to the trip leader one is taken on the trip, the other is left at school as a record of pupil attendees and to update the database.

Lawrie Lee is the bursar of Hinchley Wood School, a specialist music college in Esher, Surrey

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