Back from parents' evening – these are the 3 things parents want to hear before committing to a school trip
30 Sept 2021, 12:49 by James McGeown
James at Claremont Fan Court School
I’m just back from my first parents’ evening since the start of the pandemic and I thought it would be useful to share my experience of talking to parents about their child's planned trip.
I was presenting to parents and SLT at Claremont Fan Court School about an incredible trip I'm organising for their students to Peru departing July 2023. But, even though not all schools are lucky enough to run trips to Peru, I think the questions I received about the trip are representaive of the concerns of all parents, wherever their child is heading, and the answers I gave might help with your school trip preparations.
I take great pleasure in attending parents' evenings because I can really help teachers reassure parents about the safety and wellbeing of their group, answer the detailed questions about the destination and trip arrangements, and ultimately help promote the trip and ensure it is a success.
I was struck that parents really didn't want their children to miss out any more, and they were keen for their child to attend the trip but were looking for additional reassurance and certainty before confirming their place on the trip.
It was interesting to hear what was at the front of parents’ minds after everything that’s happened since last year, and I want to share what I learned. Hopefully, this feedback will help you answer parents' questions about your next school trip.
Q: Why should I trust you with my child's safety on the trip?
Safety is always at the forefont of parents' minds and so I was able to provide plenty of reassurance about Voyager School Travel's safety, safeguarding and wellbeing protocols.
We are members of the School Travel Forum (STF), a professional trade association that promotes school travel and upholds best in class health and safety processes. Our Safety Management System, including new COVID-19 requirements, are audited by STF annually which means we must provide evidence that we are meeting their benchmarks and standards in order to retain our membership.
We also hold the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge, which is a guarantee that we have safety management processes in place to manage risk effectively.
I was able to explain that all the accommodation we recommend is audited by a senior manager from Voyager School Travel to ensure it complies with the most stringent health and safety standards and is suitable for school groups. Voyager School Travel has been organising international educational trips for more than 10 years and so we have amassed a network of tried and tested accommodation and have built strong relationships with suppliers who we can trust to perform to our high standards.
Q: What if something happens with COVID?
Though the trip I was presenting isn't until 2023, I did receive questions about the pandemic, in particular what would happen if COVID-19 impacted their child's trip.
Because Claremont's trip is eligible for our COVID-19 Peace of Mind Promise I was able to explain that if the Foreign Office or Department for Education advised against trips to their destination, then we would either postpone their trip or offer them a fully refund.
I also talked through our new school trip insurance which is a specialist policy, designed by the School Travel Forum and ABTA, and underwritten by AXA, solely for school groups. Unlike most school insurance policies, the new policy offers invaluable cover for COVID-19. Parents were relieved that if their child was unable to travel because they'd tested positive or had been told to self-isolate, then they'd be fully covered by the insurance.
Q: Is my money safe?
Understandably, before paying their first deposits for a trip in 2023, parents wanted to know that Voyager School Travel is financially secure and bonded. I reassured the parents that when booking with Voyager School Travel their deposits and trip is protected in a number of ways.
Firstly, Voyager School Travel is a full member of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and is licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority under the Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL). All monies received by Voyager School Travel are bonded by either ABTA or ATOL. ABTA provides financial protection for school trips by rail, ferry or coach while ATOL provides protection for school trips which include a flight.
Again, I was able to talk about our a new travel insurance policy that provides COVID-19 cover before the trip so that they won't be left out of pocket if their child can't travel because they've tested positive or told to self isolate.
Extra school trip resources to answer all the ‘what if’ questions from parents
I'm sharing some resources to give you a helping hand for your next parents' evening. Our Guide to Restarting School Trips will answer all the 'what if' questions parents are bound to have, so it's worth sharing. You can also find the powerpoint slides I included in my presentation that answer the top three questions discussed above.
Your guide to restarting school trips
All the essential information you need to know before you go