Rural children miss out on school trips

31st August 2007 at 01:00

CITY CHILDREN are more likely to go on school trips than their rural counterparts. Research shows rural schools on average offer 10.8 trips in key stage 4, compared with 13.7 offered by town and city schools.

A survey of 220 secondaries across the UK found that on average children went on just fewer that five school trips in each key stage.

Professor Sally Power of Cardiff University, who led the study, was due to present the findings at the Royal Geographical Society annual conference this week.

"There was a strong ruralurban division," she said. "In rural areas, there were pupils who would have problems getting home after local transport had stopped. Also, in cities it is easier to go to the theatre than it is in rural areas."

The most frequent trips at all ages were adventure activities. But there were differences between the trips offered to those in the early secondary years and those at KS4. Excluding away matches by school sports teams, KS3 trips were most likely to be taken for geography, RE, English and art, while at KS4 most visits were for work-related learning, art, English and science.

More than 80 per cent of schools said the biggest barrier to offering trips was pupils not being able to afford to go. Three-quarters of schools also mentioned difficulties with supply cover, transport, risk assessments and a lack of provision in the timetable. Teachers in schools offering the fewest trips cited lack of support from senior management.

Professor Power said: "The overall variation is very wide. There seemed to be a difference between schools that offered a very cosmopolitan provision, with lots of overseas trips, and those that had mostly local horizons, often with a very strong vocational focus.

"Whether trips were provided often seemed to be quite arbitrary and dependent on the expertise of a particular teacher."

The research was funded by the Real World Learning Campaign, a partnership of environmental and outdoor charities. Anthony Thomas, its chair, said: "We still have hearts and minds to win. Increasingly, we have to persuade senior management of the benefits of out-of-classroom learning."

Last November the Government pledged pound;2.7 million to its Learning Outside the Classroom manifesto, which provides training on how to run trips.

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