Educational Journeys

I’m not sure when it happened, but it seems that every year, many secondary schools (and some primaries) organise trips to far flung places. When I was a youth, my school journey was a week on the coast, or maybe somewhere as exotic as the Isle of Wight! Nowadays, it’s more likely to be Borneo than Bournemouth, which got me thinking about educational journeys.

As a private tutor, I’m very aware of the pressures on family budgets. It’s with this in mind that we’ve been putting accessibility at the heart of our offerings, making the point of entry to private tuition more affordable.

So, it was with considerable interest that I read a recent press article which talked of families paying in excess of £3000 to send their child on a school trip. Wow! I’ve often written about the investment in education (or not) being about priorities, and I feel that this article shines a light on this subject.

These trips are not the preserve of private schools. Indeed, the vast majority of state secondary schools organise adventure or charity focused weeks across the globe too.

The cost of a week away often exceeds the cost of a full academic year of private tuition. One must wonder whether the tutoring option would have a greater impact upon a student’s success? OK, I know that a child’s life shouldn’t be all about lessons and exams, and of course we should be broadening the horizons of our children beyond academia.

Yet, isn’t this what we do as parents anyway? To teach, to travel, to show new and fresh perspectives of cultures and the rich tapestry of life?

Of course, I understand that there’s an element of peer pressure, or just the desire to be included and not miss out on a bonding experience or ‘opportunity of a lifetime’. This assumes that only our child will ‘miss out’ and be some kind of social pariah. It also suggests that secondary school relationships last beyond the end of the last exam, when many simply do not.

I know of numerous instances where the trip was a bit of a damp squib and where it was suggested by the student to have been a bit of a waste of time. This of course was stated in a quiet moment, whilst desperately trying not to appear ungrateful! The truth is you can’t please all the people, all the time and school trips, however expensive, are not immune to this rule.

Personally, I believe that independent travel is more effective than an organised trip with a set itinerary. If a student works hard and gains entry to their desired university, what better way to spend the time between school and university than backpacking and setting one’s own agenda?

I’ve often written that it’s the choice of the individual where to spend their hard-earned money. It continues to weigh heavily upon me that there are many children that miss out on life-enhancing tuition, for a good tutor provides more than grades, in favour of a one-time event.

Experience has shown me that these trips are often instantly forgotten in the whirl of a new life of A Levels and University, whereas quality private tuition will be a gift for the long haul (see what I did there?).