How to Organise a Home Education Trip

Organise a Home Educucation Trip

Photo credit © L Rowe 2015

 

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.
Kayaking Home Educucation Activity 2014

Kayaking Home Education Activity Photo credit © L Rowe 2014

 

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.

 

Kew Gardens Home Educucation Trip

Kew Gardens Home Education Trip 2014. Photo credit © L Rowe 2014

 

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!

Organising Home Education Events

Field Trip at www.clipartbest.com

Field Trip at www.clipartbest.com

The entire point of home-education is that you do what is best for your child/ren and the beauty of home-ed is that you can organise whatever you like.

Any home-educator can organise a home-education event.

Educationista.com is all about educational trips and visits! The main purpose of the website being to share knowledge of places, resources and things to do.  We share and list both public events and home-ed events on our events page (and you can search all future events by age, subject, distance/location and date)

In nearly every local home-education group that has been established for a while, there will be people willing to help fellow home-educators to organise stuff.
I'm (Lou) always happy to help anyone organise their own trips/events and also offers it's event booking facility to home-educators free-of-charge.  (It's also fine to ask for help without having to use this website event booking facility, too).

So, should you see an event on this website, that you would like to reproduce, wonderful! I'd love to hear that you were inspired to organise your own, either by commenting on the event's page itself or by dropping a line.

Occasionally, special home-ed rates have been negotiated with a venue.  Again, you are very welcome to renegotiate these yourself.  Obviously, similarly, the venue is under no obligation to honour previously negotiated special rates, if for example, they've changed their pricing in the meantime.

However, it is not the policy or practice of Lou (or this website) to negotiate exclusive home-education discount or to lock a venue into an exclusive home-education discount.
(Please see here for an opinion on HE discount cards and here for home-ed discounts that we're currently aware of )

There are so many fabulous home-education things going on nowadays, that it is impossible not to clash with something else, somewhere else.

Obviously, there is an etiquette about not organising an identical event either at the same time or before the original one is full (and in fact, this is common sense, because depending on how the venue charges, both organisers may be out of pocket if there are not enough "attendees" to cover both trips).

Most importantly, it is important to remember that anyone can organise anything and people should feel empowered to do so.

Transport for Home Education Trips

© Country Lion 2014

Photo credit © Country Lion 2014

One of the most common questions for both new home-educators and venues is, will there be a coach or transport for a home education trip/outing.

There is rarely transport for home-education trips.  There are various reasons for this.  The main one is there is no central pick-up point like a school gate.  For a big trip, people will often travel from several counties, by the time they have made their way to a central pick-up point, they may as well have travelled straight to the venue itself.

The other reason is cost. Coaches are expensive and for many people, it would work out cheaper for them to make their own way there.  Multi-point pick-ups would be even more expensive.  In fairness to the coach companies - running and maintaining coaches is not cheap.  In addition to the cost of the coach itself, they have to pay the driver - who would have to hang around for the duration of the trip.

For museums and other venues this means that home-educators generally travel independently, so there is no need for coach parking.  On the other hand, there is an increased need for ordinary parking spaces.  This also means that the group "assembles" at the venue itself.

Having said that, some home-education groups have booked coaches, particularly if there is a large group of home-educators from one town/area.  Whether a coach is booked very much depends on the organiser of the trip.

Ideas for Unit Study Themes

Unit Studies or having Themes for a week or a term are a different way of teaching and learning.  They can be used as a "background" theme for a period of time or an all-encompassing project or anything in between.

Here are some ideas for unit studies or weekly/monthly/termly themes.  You can make them as detailed as you like and tailor them to the ages of the students.

Personal/Social/Citizenship

  • Right & wrong
  • Ethics
  • Law & Justice
  • Crime, Police & Forensics
  • Working/Careers
  • Parliament
  • Health & Fitness
  • Me and My Family
  • Customs & Ettiquette

Maths

  • Mobius Strips
  • Big Numbers & Infinity
  • Fractals & Chaos
  • Size & Shape
  • Time
  • Tesselations & Patterns
  • Symmetry

English

  • Books & bookmaking
  • Rhymes, Rhyming & Poetry
  • Etymology
  • Sayings and Figures of Speech

History

  • Egyptians
  • Romans
  • Tudors
  • Victorians
  • The Cold War
  • The life and times of any historical person of interest (pick your own!)
  • Women in History
  • History of Science
  • Slavery and the Slave Trade
  • Civil Rights Movement

Geography

  • Countries/Continents (pick a country or continent)
  • Maps and Map Reading
  • Cultures
  • Religions of the World

Science

  • Plants
  • Human Body
  • Light
  • Waves
  • Energy
  • Astronomy
  • Solar System
  • Plants & Animals
  • The Senses

Engineering/Technology

  • Bridges
  • Structures
  • How Computers Work
  • The Internet
  • Programming

Do you have any other ideas for Themes or Unit Studies?

Home Education Discounts

A list of educational discounts for home-educators.

If you know of any others, please do get in touch.

(Please note - this list is not an endorsement or a verification of any venue/organisation/company/etc.  These discounts may be varied or withdrawn without notice by the venue/organisation/company themselves)

 

Venues

Alton Towers - must be booked ahead.

At-Bristol - offer home-educator days.

Buckingham Palace - extend their school prices to home-educators, term-time only.

Cadw - must be booked ahead for free educational visits

CGP - extend their tutor pricing to home-educators

Eden Project - must have proof of home-ed (will accept home made card)

English Heritage - must be booked ahead (at least a week, when last checked) for free entry to most of their sites/places.

Legoland Windsor - must be booked ahead.  Require "proof" (they are a little unclear on the what would constitute proof, though)

National Trust - have their own home-education card.

Oak Farm Park (Leics) - discounted child entry, term time only.

Roald Dahl Museum And Story Centre (Great Missenden, Bucks) - will accept home-ed group bookings on the same basis as a school

Ripley's Believe it Or Not - will accept home-ed group bookings on the same basis as a school.

 

Websites/Online

Reading Eggs - contact them direct for the home-ed discount

Conquer Maths - contact them direct for the home-ed discount

 

Publishers

CGP - extend their tutor pricing to home-educators

Schofield & Simms extend their school/tutor pricing to home-educators (just choose "Tutor" from the drop down menu, during the checkout process)

 

Events

Into Film - accepts bookings from home-educators

Primary Proms - accepts bookings from home-educators

Skills Show - accepts bookings from home-educators

Big Bang Show - accpets bookings from home-educators

 

Do you know of any others? Please share share or make contact.

GCSEs as a Private Candidate

This is as at May 2014 for 2015 sittings.  (Not an exhaustive list) for Edexcel, CIE, AQA, OCR.  The other awarding bodies being WJEC, CCEA and ICAAE.

Edexcel IGCSE CIE IGCSE Edexcel GCSE AQA OCR
Accounting 100% exam
Applied Business controlled assessment controlled assessment controlled assessment
Arabic
Art and Design coursework controlled assessment not available to private candidates
Astronomy controlled assessment
Biology 100% exam
Business controlled assessment
Business Studies 100% exam 100% exam controlled assessment controlled assessment
Chemistry 100% exam
Chinese
Citizenship Studies controlled assessment
Classical Civilisation timed controlled assessment but  available to private candidates*
Computer Science 100% exam not available to private candidates
Computer Studies option of 100% exam
Computing project
D&T - Electronic Products
D&T - Food Technology practical test controlled assessment controlled assessment
D&T - Graphic Products controlled assessment controlled assessment
D&T - Resistant Materials controlled assessment controlled assessment
D&T - Textiles Technology controlled assessment controlled assessment
Drama controlled assessment controlled assessment
Economics 100% exam 100% exam
Engineering controlled assessment
English
English Language option of 100%
English Literature option of 100%
French includes oral exam
Geography 100% exam
Geography A controlled assessment Local fieldwork controlled assessment (available to private candidates)
Geography B controlled assessment Local fieldwork controlled assessment (available to private candidates)
German
Global Citizenship 100% exam
Health and Social Care
History 100% exam
History A controlled assessment incl controlled assessment but  available to private candidates
History B controlled assessment incl controlled assessment but  available to private candidates
Home Economics: Food and nutrition not available to private candidates controlled assessment
ICT 50% practical exam practical exam not available to private candidates controlled assessment
Italian
Japanese
Law 100% exam (available to private candidates)
Leisure and Tourism
Manufacturing controlled assessment
Mathematics
Modern Greek
Music
Physical Education
Physics 100% exam
Psychology 100% exam 100% exam (available to private candidates)
Religious Studies 100% exam
Russian
Science
Sociology 100% exam (available to private candidates)
Spanish includes oral exam
Statistics controlled assessment
Urdu

*In practice, classical civilisation is almost impossible for private candidates due to the need for a controlled assessment. A group of home educators in Hampshire have managed to do this. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact us, and details will be passed on.

HE Discount Cards

ID Card © 2010 vivekchugh via www.rgbstock.com

ID Card © 2010 vivekchugh via www.rgbstock.com

There should be no need to purchase a home-ed "discount" card of any kind.  Ever.

Any venue/museum etc... worth it's salt will honour a home-education booking on the same basis as those for schools.  Increasing numbers of places, providers, etc... will also relax the group requirements for home-educating families. To access a group workshop, it would still be necessary to get a group of people together - like playing football, it's very difficult to do some group activities without an actual group).

For things such as online resources, quite often there is a home-ed discount but they just don't publish it (or they make it hard to find), so that it only goes to genuine home-educators. To see if these are available, it is just a case of ringing up and enquiring. For others, (for example, ConquerMaths) they do even greater discounts for groups of home-educators who club together (and there is currently at least one lovely home-educator who is organising this at the moment).

Home-educators should not be discriminated against by venues, organisations etc...; Home educators please don't encourage venues/museums/parks/organisations/companies to only deal with "discount card providers" and the like. By doing this home-educators will undermine their rights to be dealt with as educators (albeit on a smaller scale) and encourages organisations to only deal with other organisations (and not individual families and small groups)

Don't let it become the norm for home-educators to have to produce a "card" or be part of an organisation in order to avail of educational discounts.

As more museums, parks, organisations, establishments, companies, resource providers and so on, realise that home-educators have equal rights with schools the choice grows wider and better for all.

(The above was originally part of a personal blog but has been reproduced here.  Also, please further note the following:

It is not the policy or practice for me (Lou) to negotiate exclusive home-education discounts.  Where a home-education discount has been negotiated for a trip, it is made clear that it should be available to all home-educators/HE groups and there is no exclusivity.  I would encourage all home-educators who organise trips etc to do the same)

See here for some general home-education discounts that are available on request/without a card.

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 :-)

Review: Homeschooling for Dummies by Jennifer Kaufield

Homeschooling for Dummies by Jennifer Kaufield* follows the usual "Dummies" format and it is very upbeat and positive. It was a useful introductory overview of Home Education and included lots of tips and advice. It also covers all age-ranges and it touches on the main methods of home-education but not any particular area in depth. The focus is very much "how to" rather than a "why would you?"

Some aspects relating specifically to the US are not applicable to the UK (some US states seem to have far more regulation and administrative requirements than the UK, for example) and the book does not cover UK law on home-education. Similarly, the book does not go into any €detail about specific educational philosophies or educational theories).  There is not enough detail, on it's own, for those starting out on home-education/homeschooling with older students.

Good introductory book to get started with, particularly for those with younger children.  It is typically light-hearted and encouraging.

 Also available on Kindle*