Parents warn of impact of fee hikes on trips

28th October 2011 at 01:00
Museums shake-up sparks fears of increased charges for schools

Proposals for a nationwide plan to help Scottish museums and galleries beat the recession have sparked concerns that schools may suffer financially.

The National Strategy for Scotland's Museums and Galleries is aimed at "galvanizing" the sector to make the best use of resources to improve sustainability.

Although an expansion of educational work is proposed in the draft strategy, fears have emerged that school trips and resources will be hit by increased charges.

Eileen Prior, executive director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said: "The specifics of cost are not mentioned (in the draft strategy), but the museum sector - in common with every other sector - is under financial pressure and there is likely to be a knock-on effect on educational trips.

"Parents are already facing these issues with every kind of school trip - teacher cover is now generally built into the cost, and rising fuel, insurance and other costs are all impacting on how much parents are being asked to pay for school trips, while most families are feeling a great deal of pressure on their home budget."

There are more than 340 museums and galleries across Scotland, charging a range of fees for educational work.

Mrs Prior urged the sector's representative body, Museums and Galleries Scotland, to address the impact of potential fee hikes.

An MGS spokesman responded: "The strategy is looking at the sector from the highest strategic level.

"Whether museums (or galleries) charge schools is very much dependent on the operational working of the museum or gallery and what their business model is."

"Knowledge and learning" is the first key focus area identified in the draft strategy, with a recommendation of greater investment in education: objectives include using collections and the knowledge around them to "foster a culture of learning". The second is the economy.

The online consultation, which ends next month, was launched by Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

The second of two consultation meetings is being held next Wednesday. The final strategy will be published early next year.

Webcam opens doors

A webcam giving pupils access to historical shipbuilding artefacts is among examples of good practice linking Scotland's schools and museums.

Clydebank Museum worked with Dalreoch Primary in West Dunbartonshire on the new resource, which allows youngsters to view items in the museum's stores.

The museum has also joined the national schools intranet, Glow, sharing information about shipbuilding as a resource for the museum and West Dunbartonshire schools.

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