Money Wellness
illustrated children on a school trip
category iconMoney Saver
calendar icon21 Mar 2024

School trips becoming more and more expensive

With Spring in full swing, we’re reaching school trip season for many children at school.  Last year, English Heritage, a charity that provides free school visits while caring for 400 historical sites in England, said school trips to its sites have dropped by 28% compared to pre-pandemic numbers.

In late 2023, the cost of school trips had increased by 63% in three years.

The charity thinks the reduction in visits is down the cost of living crisis, rather than the effects of the pandemic. The cost of a trip per pupil had risen from £2.25 to £3.66. In 2024, it’s predicted to hit £3.89.

 For families who are already being hit hard by the cost of living, paying for a school trip is likely the last thing on their mind, with one in four parents struggling with school costs.

 English Heritage released figures showing regional differences in how many school trips there are. Sites in the south east of England are most visited, with an average of almost eight times the number of schoolchildren visiting compared to the sites in the north west.

 Dr Dominique Bouchard, English Heritage’s head of learning and interpretation said, “As a charity, one of our main purposes is to provide everyone with memorable learning experiences. Our educational visits are a vital part of this. We are one of the only paid-entry providers in the UK to offer free school trips and we do this because we want to instil a lifelong love of learning in every single child.  Under no circumstances do we want to stop offering free school trips and it is for this reason that we are launching a public appeal to raise much-needed funds.”


Do you need help with school costs?

 While there isn’t much in the way of help for funding your child’s school trips, there is other help you may be eligible for.

 Uniform and school equipment:

 Your local council may help you with costs towards uniforms, computer equipment or your child learning an instrument, so it’s worth getting in touch. Find your local council on GOV.UK.

School uniforms:

 School uniform grants are handed out to low-income families by their local council. They’re worth up to £150 per child but how much you get, and if you qualify, depends on where you live and your council’s criteria.

One council could offer nothing, another £30 and a third £150 because the government hasn’t set fixed rules.

How they’re paid also differs with some councils transferring money into your bank account, others reimbursing you once you’ve bought uniform or offering vouchers.

 School uniform grants – if there’s one available to you – are typically offered to children who receive free school meals or whose parents claim means-tested benefits, such as universal credit.

 However, they can sometimes also be offered to families who don’t receive school meals, providing they can prove they’re facing financial hardship.

 If you’re eligible for a school uniform grant, you’ll be able to claim it for each child but will be restricted to claiming once every school year.

 Otherwise, you can check out Young Planet, an app where parents donate children’s items, or places like Facebook Marketplace or charity shops. Buying second-hand is worth the bargain considering how quickly children grow!

 Free school meals

Your child will automatically get free school meals if they're in reception class or year 1 or 2.

If your child is in year 3 or above, you can apply for free school meals if:

  • you get certain benefits
  • you get asylum support

Apply for free school meals on GOV.UK.

If you don’t qualify, weigh up the costs of a packed lunch vs school dinners. One might be cheaper than the other.

Free transport to school

You might be able to get help with the costs of sending your child to school if your school is more than two miles away and your child is under 8, or three miles away if your child is 8 or over.

 You may also qualify if there’s no safe walking route between your home and school or they can’t walk there because of special education needs, disability or mobility problems.

 If your child doesn’t qualify for free school transport for these reasons, they might still be able to sue the scheme for free if you’re on a low income.

 Alternatively, you can speak to other local parents to see if you can get a carpool going so you can share drop offs and pick-ups.

 Or find out if your school is participating in a walking scheme where children can walk with their friends safely to school.

 PTA’s and charity grants

 PTA’s are the fountain of all knowledge and put the money raised from all those cake sales and summer fairs to good use. Check with your school’s parent teacher association (PTA) to see if they can provide any financial help. You’ll usually be able to get their contact details from the school office or on the school website.

There are also charities that also run their own grants to help struggling families. You can check out what support is available at

 If your child has special educational needs or disabilities, you might be eligible for funding to help towards the cost of buying a computer or laptop to help with their education. To find more details on what’s available from your local council and its eligibility criteria, visit their website.




Avatar of Lydia Bell-Jones

Lydia Bell-Jones

With a background in banking, Lydia has been writing professionally for over five years. She is passionate about helping people improve their personal finances and has a particular interest in the connection between money and mental health.

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