Are overseas school trips out of control?

When I was in high school our ‘big trip’ was a 5 day bus tour from our school in the Waikato to Wellington and back. I remember an abundance of worksheets on everything from the fruit industry to art deco architecture. Our excursions included a visit to an abbatoir (not too much of an eye-opener for a group of kids from a rural town), a tour of the Beehive, a visit to a university and, for a bit of relaxation, an afternoon at a waterpark. We stayed in a variety of accomodation including campground dorm rooms and a motel in Wellington. It was a big deal. And we all fundraised for months beforehand.

School trips go further afield

My one island road trip several decades ago seems to pale in comparison to the school trips that a lot of high schools are undertaking now. Many schools offer an educational trip to an overseas destination. A quick check of my teenager’s current school curriculum reveals just a handful of NZ field trips, with the most expensive being a $400 5 day trip to the Central Plateau. I do know however that they have undertaken a Commerce course trip to New York in the past for seniors and there are bi-annual trips to Pacific nations for language courses.

However, another local high school last year organised a three week educational trip to Europe costing $7,000 per person! That sort of price tag is bound to exclude some students with families simply not being able to afford such an expense without a monumental amount of fundraising (and no doubt with other financial priorities). Greece recently banned overseas education trips for high school students to protect disadvanted children from not being able to join their peers. Dutch schools are restricting travel to terrorist-hit countries for safety reasons.

Recent comments in the media from parents are that students who are not able to take part in the trip (or who choose not to) are diverted to other activities but often miss out on exceptional education opportunities. They also commented that sometimes schools give very little notice of an upcoming trip, allowing little time to fundraise.

Overseas trips for primary school kids?

Overseas travel for high school students is not necessarily that unique, but there is a growing trend for even primary schools to embark on educational trips that take them overseas. Several Australian primary schools have taken kids on trips to Japan, China and Vietnam. Schools argue that overseas trips are opening up more educational opportunities for students, helping them to become ‘global citizens’.

Do you think that overseas school trips have merit? Join the discussion in the comments below.

This blog was written by Julie Scanlon, Editor for Kidspot NZ.

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  1. Alezandra 16/05/2018 at 8:35 pm

    Overseas trips for primary kids are too much. It’s expensive and frankly unnecessary. It’s fine for own families who want to travel together but to make this mandatory (or even voluntary – still makes the kid who doesn’t want to join feel left out) is not ideal. I still feel it’s also a luxury even for high school kids. Maybe for a senior trip but that’s it.

  2. Kjgee 14/05/2018 at 10:50 am

    I think overseas trips are great … for high school aged children. I have 4 kids but because of age gaps will only have 2 in high school at a time. My biggest thing is preparation of cost. My two at school are year 5&6 which means they do the camps together which means double the cost, I would have liked to have seen the cost at the beginning of the year rather than one term out, so we could prepare. Hopefully this is the case for any camps they have at high school. I can understand why this is a financial burden on many families but hopefully the school provides fundraising activities. For our primary school camp the school set up an initial fundraising meeting for parents who which to fundraise and then it is parent led, those who want to be involved are.

  3. SarahBlair 11/05/2018 at 10:04 pm

    I agree that the experiences would be amazing but the expense? It is just too much for a lot of families, and then kids miss out. The schools really need to try to make the trips more reasonable and inclusive!! My kids have had to miss many trips because of the cost

  4. Angelgirl081 25/04/2018 at 10:15 am

    They are a good idea. In high school we could go in a ballot for a 3 week trip to Europe when we were seniors. There was then opportunities to fundraise for this (selling chocolate and such). I do think if it’s specific to a certain class though, that’s not really fair because some kids may not be able to afford it. It’s also something I would rather do as a family rather than pay for 1 of my children to go on a trip without us.

  5. Shelz69 24/04/2018 at 4:15 pm

    As a single Mum this puts a huge financial strain on us, I don’t want my kids to be left out or the only one that can’t go because her Mum can’t afford it. I am sure there will be fundraising but I certainly don’t have time to fundraise, work and raise my children on my own. I think overseas travel is an amazing opportunity but it should be at high school level at least. Primary school is just too young and unnecessary.

  6. MuddledUpMolly 24/04/2018 at 2:05 pm

    Our son’s primary school does not travel overseas but if he were given the option when he attends secondary school then we would 100% support his involvement. I believe travel and extending experiences are essential for life, whether for children or adults. I only wish I had the opportunity to do so when I was at school!

  7. Mands1980 13/04/2018 at 8:15 pm

    Gosh I never knew about trips overseas for primary but know about secondary. Our local definitely does not do these as it costs enough for fundraising just for the school to run. If we had to do both it would be crazy. I can see why they do it at secondary school for languages but other things you can wander why they do it putting a lot of pressure on parents and the children to get enough money otherwise they miss out.

  8. Shorrty4life1 11/04/2018 at 11:18 am

    I feel that my children would never handle an overseas trip away without their family. They would feel like they are getting shipped away somewhere they don’t belong it’d be a great experience don’t get me wrong but I really couldn’t see them handling it. I think the cost is also rediculous especially if they don’t funderaise the whole amount it puts alot of stress on family which is not very fair also

  9. Bevik1971 11/04/2018 at 10:04 am

    I think overseas trips through schools are a good idea, however not until the child is older – there is no way I would send my primary school child overseas!! But I think it is great for the older child when they have to help with funding towards these trips, can teach them some really good lessons 🙂

  10. Jen_Wiig 10/04/2018 at 9:55 am

    Omgosh my biggest stress unfolding as we speak, my eldest started intermediate this year and we have just been informed they will travel to China for their school/class camp!!! This is done every second year so we will also end up with my middle boy there whwn they do it again… It will be about 2500… 2500 we don’t have! If we had that kind of money laying around we would own a car… Yes there will be fund raising of selling Cadbury chocolate but where the heck are we meant to find the extra time to do this with our already crazy busy life! I’ve told our boy very honestly that we will do our best to try and raise the money but there is a real chance he won’t be able to go… It sux and I know we aren’t alone there are alot of families like ours who last thing they need is this massive extra cost… It’s all well and good wanting the kids to experience a new culture and great for learning etc but then it should include EVERYONE and the school should then become responsible for fundraising in my opinion… My middle boy went to his fist camp to Kāwai Island… Fantastic! Affordable, Fun and he had the most incredible time that he said he will always remember… What’s wrong with these camps?? When we went on school camp it was always educational and exciting doing thing we normally wouldn’t do like abseiling and all in our own “backyard” of NZ… It also meant/means it’s generally affordable enough for all the class kids to attend.
    I think these overseas school trips are way over the top not only cost wise but also taking away from the chance to have a first family holiday overseas together or the opportunity for every child to attend… It’s cruel… It’s not what apparently is FREE education in NZ for public schools and its worrying with all the wars and terrorist attacks to be honest.

  11. kymmage 09/04/2018 at 9:24 pm

    My kids are still a wee bit young. But I remember overseas trips being made available for language students at my school as well as exchanges. If you were learning Japanese, you could elect to go to Japan. For French they went to New Caledonia. I was always jealous of those who had the opportunity. My family weren’t poor as such but funds to allow such a trip weren’t there. I missed the 7th form ski trip for the want of 400 bucks. I personally think they are great. Amazing opportunity. But I’m sure very hard for those kids whose families aren’t in a position to pay. That’s why fundraising becomes so important. Every child should have an opportunity like this.

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