School trips and music tuition.
(including residential visits)
- School governing bodies and local authorities cannot charge for education provided during school hours (including the supply of any materials, books, instruments or other equipment).
- Schools must ensure that they inform parents on low incomes and in receipt of benefits (see DFE website for applicable benefits) of the support available to them when being asked for contributions towards the cost of school visits.
- All activities offered wholly or mainly during normal teaching time should be available to all pupils without charge, regardless of their parents’ ability or willingness to pay. The exception is instrumental music tuition.
School governing bodies and local authorities, cannot charge for:
- an admission application to any state funded school - paragraph 1.9 (n) of the ‘School Admissions Code 2012’ rules out requests for financial contributions as any part of the admissions process;
- education provided during school hours (including the supply of any materials, books, instruments or other equipment);
- education provided outside school hours if it is part of the national curriculum or part of a syllabus for a prescribed public examination that the pupil is being prepared for at the school, or part of religious education;
- instrumental or vocal tuition, for pupils learning individually or in groups, unless the tuition is provided at the request of the pupil’s parent;
- entry for a prescribed public examination, if the pupil has been prepared for it at the school.
- examination re-sit(s) if the pupil is being prepared for the re-sit(s) at the school2.
- transport incidental to free education, namely between school premises and to and from other places where education is provided, or in connection with a prescribed public examination
Schools and local authorities can charge for:
- Any materials, books, instruments or equipment where the child’s parent wished him/her to own them
- Optional extras (see below)
- Music & vocal tuition in limited circumstances (see below)
- Certain Early Years provision (The Education (Charges for Early Years Provision) Regulations 2012)
- Community facilities (The powers to provide community facilities are under s.27(1) of the Education Act ).
Charges may be made for some activities that are known as ‘optional extras’. Where an optional extra is being provided, a charge can be made for providing materials, books, instruments, or equipment.
Participation in any optional extra activity will be on the basis of parental choice and a willingness to meet the charges. Parental agreement is therefore a necessary pre-requisite for the provision of an optional extra where charges will be made.
Optional extras are:
- Education provided outside of school time that is not part of the national curriculum.
- examination entry fee(s) if the registered pupil has not been prepared for the examination(s) at the school
- transport (other than transport that is required to take the pupil to school or to other premises where the local authority/governing body have arranged for the pupil to be provided with education);
- board and lodging for a pupil on a residential visit
- extended day services offered to pupils (for example breakfast club, after-school clubs, tea and supervised homework sessions).
Where the school decides to make a charge for “optional extras” which are provided outside school time, the charge may not exceed the actual cost of providing the optional extra activity. It is not permissible to subsidise pupils whose parents are unwilling or unable to pay the full charge. The cost of provision of the optional extra can include the costs of engaging teaching staff specifically for the purpose of providing the activity and supplying such staff with travel, board and lodgings, provided that they have been engaged on a separate contract for services to provide the optional extra.
Charging and remissions Policy
- Before any permitted charges can be levied by the school or the authority for activities which take place outside school time, a policy in relation to charging and remissions must be in place.
- The charging policy which makes clear which activities you intend to charge for, and a remissions policy which sets out any circumstances in which you propose to remit those charges (e.g. for parents in receipt of certain benefits).
- A policy statement will take account of each type of activity that can be charged for and explain when charges will be made.
- If a charge is to be made for a particular type of activity, for example optional extras, parents need to know how the charge will be worked out and who might qualify for help with the cost (or even get it free). This information should be made available to parents.
Further guidance for charging can be found on the DFE website
- If the activity cannot be funded without voluntary contributions, the governing body or head teacher should make this clear to parents at the outset. The governing body or head teacher must also make it clear to parents that there is no obligation to make any contribution.
- It is important to note that no child should be excluded from an activity simply because his or her parents are unwilling or unable to pay. If insufficient voluntary contributions are raised to fund a visit, or the school cannot fund it from some other source, then it must be cancelled. Schools must ensure that they make this clear to parents. If a parent is unwilling or unable to pay, their child must still be given an equal chance to go on the visit. Schools should make it clear to parents at the outset what their policy for allocating places on school visits will be.
- When making requests for voluntary contributions, parents must not be made to feel pressurised into paying as it is voluntary and not compulsory. Schools should avoid sending colour coded letters to parents as a reminder to make payments and direct debit or standing order mandates should not be sent to parents when requesting contributions.
- If the number of school sessions taken up by the visit is equal to or greater than 50% of the number of half days spent on the visit, it is deemed to have taken place during school hours (even if some activities take place late in the evening). Whatever the starting and finishing times of the school day, regulations require that the school day is divided into 2 sessions. A ‘half day’ means any period of 12 hours ending with noon or midnight on any day.
- Pupils are away from noon on Wednesday to 9pm on Sunday. This counts as 9 half days including 5 school sessions, so the visit is deemed to have taken place during school hours
- Pupils are away from school from noon on Thursday until 9pm on Sunday. This counts as 7 half days including 3 school sessions, so the visit is deemed to have taken place outside school hours.
- Although the law states that, in general, all education provided during school hours must be free, instrumental and vocal music tuition is an exception to that rule.
- The Charges for Music Tuition (England) Regulations 2007 set out the circumstances in which charges can be made for tuition in playing a musical instrument, including vocal tuition. They allow charging for tuition in larger groups than was previously the case.
- Charges may now be made for vocal or instrumental tuition provided either individually, or to groups of any size, provided that the tuition is provided at the request of the pupil’s parent. Charges may not exceed the cost of the provision, including the cost of the staff who provide the tuition.
- The regulations make clear that charging may not be made if the teaching is either an essential part of the national curriculum, or is provided under the first access to the key stage 2 Instrumental and Vocal Tuition Programme. They also make clear that no charge may be made in respect of a pupil who is looked after by a local authority (within the meaning of section 22(l) of the Children Act 1989).
The DFE website has more information regarding charging for school activities
There is currently a review of all income currently collected into school fund which includes school trip income. All relevant school income should be banked directly to school budget.
We will be working with schools to resolve issues that will arise with this change. Until then School’s payment providers can continue to bank to school fund accounts but any cash or cheques collected for school activity should be banked directly into school budget using a paying in book. If you require a paying in book please request via service desk portal.