Firstly, please let me make it very clear that there is definitely more than one way to organise a home education trip. Just as there is no such thing as a home-education expert, there is no such thing as an expert on HE events.
This is just to give you ideas: What you end up doing will depend on what the trip is, the numbers and costs involved and, erm, how pedantic you are and whether you like lists. I am very fond of lists!
One of the first home education trips I organised was a trip to Leicester Space Centre, who, at the time, offered various choices of shows, charging options, free adult spaces, free child spaces, use of vouchers, annual passes and so on.. I made several "rookie" errors, such as giving too much choice for dates and shows and crucially not asking for payment at the time of booking. This last one was the most stressful as one family changed their mind three times in the 4 days running up to the trip and everyone else's costs were dependent on that family paying up.
Although it did all work out ok in the end, I did learn quite a few things (and Leicester Space Centre have since simplified their educational offering somewhat, too, so may be they've learnt too!)
Things to decide in advance:
- Choose a date and time that suits yourself. There are very few "perks" to organising a home-ed trip, this one and the next two are pretty much it!
- Cater to the ages and needs of your own child/ren first.
- Choose the workshop/show topics yourself, unless you really aren't bothered.
Things to ask the Museum/Venue/Provider:
- Date availability (and possibly check their term dates, if it's a different county from where you live)
- Arrival and departure times
- Times and durations of any workshops/activities
- Costs/charging policy - including whether they charge per head or per group and whether they have a minimum or maximum charge for groups.
- What are the minimum & maximum numbers require.
- The age-ranges that they target and accomodate (which may be different - for instance, some places target a specific age-range but will allow non-participating siblings over a larger age-range)
- Whether they count adults in their numbers (for both charging and capacity - which may be two separate things)
- If there is a maximum adult number or adult ratio
- Do they charge for carer spaces
- If you’re allowed to bring babies/toddlers/pre-schoolers and whether it is "buggy-friendly"
- Whether they count babies/toddlers/pre-schoolers and if they don’t, at what age they “count” a child
- The date you have to finalise numbers for them
- The date you have to pay by.
- If there is a “no show”/minimum numbers charge (as in, do they charge if you show up with less that a minimum number of children/adults)
- Ask whether they expect payment in advance, on the day or (very occasionally) afterwards
- Do they have wheelchair access
- Are there any health and safety restrictions
Other things I do:
- I always get payment in advance. Places are not confirmed until payment has been received.
- For free events, I take a nominal deposit (which is returned to those who attend or donated to charity if people don't attend. If the venue is a charity, it goes to them, otherwise, I'd donate to a charity with an ethical background)
- I get the mobile phone and email address for everyone.
- I try and make clear all minimum/maximum ages and other conditions clear at the outset and generally be as transparent as possible.
- If needs be, I ask for names, ages and special requirements.
- I will allocate spaces on a first-come-first-served basis.
- I have an alphabetical list of families/children for the day itself.
- If I have to subdivide the group into smaller subgroups, I'll do that in advance.
- I send a final confirmation email to everyone in advance, which details the exact time/place to meet and any other information or reminders.
- If it is a big group, I get someone else to help me tick off names on the day - because it's faster.
How I share the costs:
- I share all costs and free spaces in a pedantic manner. I don't make a profit, but I won't make a loss either.
- Often, the savings from free spaces are not known in advance (because it is normally dependent on final numbers), so I will refund after the event.
- Sometimes, the venue charges per group, not per head, which makes things slightly tricker. For instance, at the time we went, Kew Gardens (and some other places) charge in "bands" (as in up to 35 children is £60, 35-70 children is £90) you will have no idea if you will fill that trip completely, or whether you'll only fill half of it. For those trips, I very cautiously estimate how many people will go and then I refund afterwards, if more people came than was estimated (Yes, there is a small chance that you can be out of pocket if you get your estimate horribly wrong)
- I've also written in way more detail about what I do personally in relation to money and other things related to any HE event I organise here.
So, that's it! Hopefully, you'll have noticed that you mainly just need common sense to organise a home education trip. Remember to have fun, too!