The Headteacher must ensure that parents are given reasonable notice of the costs of educational and off-site activities. The Headteacher must establish secure procedures for the management of associated income and expenditure. All transactions are subject to the financial standards of administration detailed in the Financial Regulations and Standing Orders for Schools.
All correspondence relating to an event / trip / activity must be sent out via the school’s official channels and a copy retained on the school’s file.
The school should also ensure that the financing of school trips and any guidance or advice given to parents is consistent with the school’s charging policy.
Charges for School Activities
Aspects of education for which charges may not be made are laid down by statute. The following key principles may be considered to apply with particular respect to off-site activities:
- Education provided wholly or mainly during schools hours is free
- Parents can be asked to make a voluntary contribution towards the cost of residential visits for their child(ren). In the last resort, if the total voluntary contributions offered does not cover the cost and other sources of funding cannot be identified, this may lead to school activities being cancelled. Parents should be made aware at the planning stage if a trip will be cancelled without financial assistance from them.
Charges can be made for board and lodging on residential visits as well as full costs when a visit is deemed to be an optional extra. e.g.
- It falls wholly or mainly outside school hours
- Does not form part of the National Curriculum
- Is not part of a syllabus towards an exam
- Is not part of statutory religious education.
See also DfES circular 2189 Ed Reform Act 1988 Charges to School Activities (external link).
Parents must be made aware of any circumstances when remission of charges would apply. The school’s Charging Policy should have reference to remission of charges. See correspondence A139/05 Aug 2005 & A167/05 Sept 2005.
Charges to teachers supervising journeys or visits must be given careful consideration. Where the visit is of purely educational nature e.g. a trip to a theatre as part of an examination course, or of a type purely for children e.g. puppet show, it may be reasonable for the supervising teachers to be paid for. Where, however, the visit is of a recreational nature e.g. a skiing holiday, it may appear reasonable for the supervising teachers to pay, at least, part of their costs. If the family or friends of supervising teachers are permitted on journeys or visits they must be charged not less than the charge to pupils.
The organiser of every trip / event / activity must complete a pro-forma, submit details of all persons going on the holiday free of charge and obtain the Headteacher’s consent/ approval.
Before giving approval to a journey or visit taking place the Headteacher must be aware of the following recommendations:
- Overseas holidays must only be arranged through reputable and bonded tour operators
- When selecting a particular trip / travel company the principles of best value must be applied to this process e.g:
- How does the cost compare to similar companies/trips?
- Is the school getting the best deal?
- Does the company’s trip meet the aims and objectives of the school visit originally agreed?
- Is the final price competitive when compared to other providers?
- How does the school ensure it received the most economic, efficient and effective service from those who provides it?
- Records must be retained of all quotations received in connection with the trip/ event/ activity.
When Headteachers authorise a journey or visit they must retain a copy of that authorisation and endorse it accordingly. The teacher in charge of the journey or visit must be familiar with the school’s internal arrangements for financial accountability and utilise a school account for this purpose.
Immediately firm prices are received for the major elements of the trip / event / activity, e.g. accommodation and travel costs, parents should be notified of the overall cost per person. It should be made clear to parents what the price charged covers. If spending money is to be included in the cost it should be itemised separately in the notification to parents. The pro-forma referred to above should be updated at this stage.
The school should record details of any floats required if expenditure is to be incurred during the visit.
Invoices must be obtained for all trips / visits / activities and receipts must be obtained for any additional costs that may be incurred by an individual on the day(s) that the trips/ visits/ activities take place. The checking of invoices, approval for payment and the signing of cheques must be undertaken in accordance with the Financial Regulations and Standing Orders of the Council. The account must be reconciled on a regular basis.
All payments should as far as possible be made by cheque.
All expenditure and income will be paid / received through a specific account, ie delegated budget, school fund or, under exceptional circumstances, a subsidiary account of the school fund specifically opened for the trip / visit / activity. The delegated budget should only be used for Educational Visits
Bank Accounts can only be opened on the express approval of the Headteacher in consultation with Internal Audit and must bear the name of the school in the title. Bank Statements must be addressed to the Headteacher of the school, not the name of the Headteacher or any other member of staff. Bank accounts set up for a specific trip / visit / activity must be closed as soon as possible after the end of trip / visit / activity, and records retained.
Cheques must require the signature of a minimum of two people from a nominated list; one of these must be preferably the Headteacher or deputy Headteacher / Manager. No blank cheques can be signed. The account must not be overdrawn. Cash must be banked on the day received wherever possible.
Income. The following procedure must be adopted where cash is collected, in respect of the charge for the journey or visit from pupils and teachers.
A receipt must be given to each person making a payment. If the charge is paid in one payment an individual receipt must be issued, if it is paid by instalments a payment card must be issued on which the individual payments can be receipted. Either form of receipt must contain the date, the amount and the signature of the teacher receiving payment.
The teacher or member of staff collecting the payments must keep a record of all the amounts received from individual pupils. The teacher or member of staff collecting payments from pupils must bank the income into the school trip bank account on the day it is received, or hand it to the Bursar for safe keeping until the next banking day. It is suggested that a paying in book is used for this purpose.
Pupils must be encouraged to bring money to school on a particular day. All payments must be recorded with the date and the amounts received from pupils. A receipt acknowledging payment must be issued to pupils on the day of payment.
Where pocket money is issued to pupils a documentary record must be made and the pupil’s signature obtained. At the end of the holiday the organiser should retain the records.
In respect of major journeys, the Headteacher must arrange for the financial position to be monitored periodically before departure.
At the end of the trip / event / activity a reconciliation form should be produced by the organiser showing the final cost of the trip/ event/ activity with a comparison made against budget costs. Any material differences must be reported to the Headteacher immediately so that corrective action can be taken.
Once all transactions relating to the trip / event / activity have been completed, a statement of income and expenditure must be prepared. It must be certified by the organising teacher and the Headteacher.
All expenditure receipts, invoices and supporting vouchers, bank statements, cheque books, paying in books, income records, including copy receipts issued, spending money records, quotations and correspondence must be retained for six years after the end of the financial year in which the trip/ visit/ activity occurred. The records need to be retained for possible future inspection and audit.
Value Added Tax
Educational school trips and holidays provided to students and pupils by the Council can be treated as a non-business activity, provided that the provision is made as part of an agreed curriculum.
Although it is likely that most school trips and holidays will be non-business, if it does not form part of an agreed curriculum then the provision of such a holiday or trip will fall within the provisions and terms of the Tour Operators’ Margin Scheme and any VAT incurred will not be recoverable. It is the Headteachers’ responsibility to decide if the trip or holiday is made as part of the agreed curriculum and therefore non-business.
The VAT is only recoverable if the invoice is processed via the delegated budget.