School defends ‘life-changing’ India trip for students costing nearly £3,500 per pupil


2023-04-26 05:05:30

Burton Borough School in Newport
Burton Borough School in Newport

Burton Borough School in Newport plans to take about 20 of its year 10 and 11 students on a “life-changing” visit to India next summer, and is offering to support students on reaching their fundraising goals to reach the near £3,500 per student cost.

Telford Priory School, in New Road, Wrockwardine Wood, says it has had an “incredible response” to its plan to take students on a £4,000 four-week trip to Kenya. They have had over 50 parents sign up for the parent meeting already which the head says is “incredible given the letters only went out yesterday”.

Kim Stephens, Burton Borough School’s deputy head, said plans for the trip were announced in February and that Burton Borough wants to “take every student who wants to go” in its current years nine and 10. Burton Borough is among a number of schools which offer such trips and has done so every two years.

But the cost, in the thousands of pounds, have provoked critical comments on social media during the cost of living crisis.

Mrs Stephens who is the school’s vice principal for inclusion, said: “We know that it is an awful lot of money and have said to the students and parents that if they want to go they can talk to us.

“In the past the students have held car boot sales and other fundraising activities so that is great too for learning those soft skills that they will need in the future.”

But she added that the trip, for students without their families, is a “life-changing opportunity” and the price includes everything they will need for the trip in summer 2024. It includes meals, trips to cultural sites of the Hindu, Sikh and Muslim religions as well as appreciating the culture of the world’s second most populous country.

They are planning to have weekly meetings to organise fundraising events and to support the young people in their efforts.

“We are here to make things achievable but it is based on them putting in the hard work,” she said. “They can use the school facilities including for printing poster for events and using photocopiers.”

She added that the trip would help to “broaden cultural horizons and is about inclusion”.

“It is taking place next summer and there are 18 months to fundraise.”

In previous years the school has organised similar trips to Tanzania and Borneo.

“We want our students to have the opportunity to approach different cultures and we have seen examples of how students change the choices they make because of their experiences or interacting with different cultures.

“The money pays for everything including flights, transport, food and accommodation, local guides as well as ensuring safety, everything is included for the price,” she added.

Mrs Stephens added that the prospect of the trip next year had been greeted enthusiastically by students who have held meetings to organise fundraisers.

She said she did not know why parents have complained in April after the trip was announced in February.

Stacey Jordan, headteacher at Telford Priory School, said it is an international fundraising package leading to an amazing opportunity and not for parents to pay for.

The school has allowed a national organisation called Camps International to come in and present to students an opportunity for them to go on a four-week expedition to Kenya where they would engage in a range of activities. They will get to live and work with local people on a series of sustainable projects, helping to support the local community, wildlife and environment.

Stacey Jordan said: “The cost of it is £4,000 but the idea is not for parents to pay for it but for students to engage in a series of fundraising events to raise the full cost of the expedition.

“It is not an official school trip, but the school will offer help to students with fundraising ideas if they need it. Students will have up to two years to fund raise for this.

“This is an amazing opportunity for students to develop their skills and personal attributes. They will have to show commitment, work hard and show incredible resilience and perseverance over a sustained period of time in order to make it to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“These are all characteristics that we promote with our students because they are attributes that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. Our school values of perseverance, respect, innovation, opportunity, reflection and you – as the hero of your own lives – are threaded throughout this whole project.

“It is an amazing opportunity, and it would be truly remiss of us not to offer it to students. However, no-one is under any pressure to get involved. We have had over 50 parents sign up for the parent meeting already which is incredible given the letters only went out yesterday!”

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