Lou’s Basic “Principles” for Organising any Home Education Trips

These are the basic principles that I go by when organising any home-education trip or event.  They are extremely pedantic; however, over the years, I've found this to be the fairest way...  :-)

Important: Organising home-education trips is NOT a business or profit-making activity for me.

I do NOT make a profit from any home education trip or activity that I might organise.  I don’t aim to make a profit, either accidentally or otherwise.  I do not charge for any "overheads" such as postage, phonecalls, website costs, or for my time (although, if you pay via the PayPal checkout, as opposed to by bank transfer/personal PayPal transfer/cheque/cash, then it will work out slightly more, because of the PayPal fees).  All my trips work out to be exactly break-even to the penny.

I also do not take any free places (if there are any) for myself, my children, my family or friends. I pay for my space and my children's spaces in exactly the same way as everyone else.

Costs are calculated on an event-by-event basis, one event does not subsidise another.

Places are only confirmed after payment has been received. If you book but haven't paid by the time I need to confim final numbers with the venue then I can't include your places in the final numbers. (On average people get 3 emails/reminders from me before I delete them from the list).  Also, if the trip is large, taking everyone's money on the day would mean that my own children would have to hang around while I did this (and they aren't known for their patience or for their ability to stay quiet whilst waiting.)

Guide_Dogs_using_braille_machine

Incidentally, on the day, you can expect to be checked off a list at the start, and possibly again, at the start of any workshops.  Sometimes you might be asked to stand in a certain area/group/line.  You might even get stickers!  It's possibly over-kill but it's definitely quicker and less confusing overall.  These trips are meant to educational and hopefully fun, too.  I've realised that neither is enhanced by having to wait around at the start, semi-mystified (especially in the cold).

If you turn up with extra people or without a prearranged/booked space, on the off-chance...  Please be prepared to either not be able to participate or be charged the full public walk-in rate (also, I'll definitely notice!).  This may sound harsh but it's not fair to everyone else who booked and paid to be kept waiting while people who arrive unannounced are sorted out.  And it's definitely not fair to anyone who patiently stayed on the waiting list and missed out.

If there are limits on the number of children, then places are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis*.
Similarly, if there is a limit on adult places, those are also allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. (With the possible exception of the last adult space, which is sometimes allocated to the next available parent/adult of children in the right age group, if children have had to be split into groups. This is to ensure that there isn't a group left without an adult)

*The order of allocation of places is done according the order of booking, so that people who opt to pay separately from the website are not penalised (however, if payment is not forthcoming when you said you would/when requested, then your "place"in the list order will be lost - you'll obviously rejoin the list when you pay, though, but possibly lower down).  If necessary, I go by the exact time-stamp of the booking (or the email/message/comment, if there is a technical problem).

Code Builder Workshop - robot & maze. Photo credit © L Rowe 2014

Code Builder Workshop - robot & maze. Photo credit © L Rowe 2014

In general, I follow the policies of the venue. I find it's easier than making up my own, as I might be tempted to introduce nonsensical ones for my own entertainment,  such as only allowing those who come dressed as an orange penguin. I am not sure how helpful that would be in the long-run (or even the short run).

Therefore, for example, if adults are free, then there will be no charge for adults.  If there is a reduced or higher rate for certain age-groups, then these are the rates that will be passed on.

If there is an overall total capacity limit, but no limit on adult numbers, I encourage adults not to go, as it means more children can go.  However, essentially all places are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

If the venue has age-limits or other requirements, then I follow them (it is clear in each individual event listing, what the requirements/limitations are, if any). Otherwise, I generally leave it up to parents to decide whether their children meet the stated requirements of any particular event/activity/trip. I expect parents are better equipped to make their own judgement.  My own children surprise me as it is, other people's children bewilder me at best.

Occasionally, (depending on the venue's pricing policy) I have to take a guess at the number of  spaces I'll fill and work out the "per head" price based on that estimate.  I will generally "over-budget" on price and give refunds afterwards, if more spaces happen to be filled.

If there are free places, a "free place discount" is allocated pro-rata to the number of paying child places. I have been known to do this calculation to 3 decimal places (that's tenths of a penny)

For no-shows and cancellations after final confirmation of numbers to the venue, if the venue gives a refund (or otherwise adjusts their final charge), then a refund (net of free-place discount refunds) will be given. (The refund for no-shows and cancellations is after free-place discount refunds to avoid penalising those families who did attend - and to avoid ruining my lovely 3dp calculations and occasional envelopes of cash refunds).

The end result is that the exact price charged by the venue is shared, according to the venue's pricing policy, among those who book and pay beforehand. There is neither a surplus nor a deficit by the end of any trip I have organised.  Never.

Kidzania Fire and Rescue.  Photo credit © L Rowe 2015

Kidzania Fire and Rescue. Photo credit © L Rowe 2015

 

Any events and activites that I organise are done so on a purely voluntary basis; Your and your children's attendance are purely and entirely at your own risk; I take unaccompanied children in on an informal "in loco parentis" basis only. As it happens, I have had an enhanced DBS (formerly CRB) check for voluntary work not related to Home Education, but I do NOT have a DBS check specifically for Home Education activities/trips.

Also, I don't generally publicise attendee lists, for a couple of reasons but mainly because not everyone likes their child's name/age floating around internet groups (and I can't tell in advance who those people might be).  If you have a space, you'll have a confirmation email from this website (normally within a day or two of payment) and nearer the time, I'll email further details.  If it is important that a friend is also going, please ask them directly.

Finally, I have no expertise or experience in SEN and disability. Unless the venue have a specific carer's policy, I leave it to parents to decide whether a carer space is required (where carer spaces are applicable) and/or whether it is suitable for any given SEN/disability. (I will check with the venue if a parent has any particular questions, eg. regarding wheelchair access, additional resources, etc... so you can make an informed decision).

In general, I leave it to parents' judgement as to whether their child has the aptitude, ability, physical and emotional maturity to attend any given event.

Best wishes,

Lou :-)

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