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School Ski Trip - was it worth it ?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
It's an urban myth.

I have run a January ski trip for over a decade.

Sounds like unsupportive management teams pulling the wool over your eyes.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@TCSC47, seems a bit odd as one on mine in Yr 9 went to Germany for 3 school days on a trip in December. The other in Yr 9 also will miss 4 days of school in May for a Spain trip. They school ski trip left (without them) at noon on the Friday pre-half term.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I have not been able to find a reference to the actual date teachers were stopped from running ski trips in term time but I think it to be early 90's. As a young teacher, I helped with ski trips in term time but found it impossible to carry on without the half term available to undertake all my classroom responsibilities.

The debate in the media has actually been more about parents being fined for taking their children out of school for holidays during term time to avoid the dramatic rise in cost of skiing and other vacations out of school term time, amongst many other reasons.
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jan/29/parents-children-holiday-school-terms and the effect on the UK ski industry.

I know that this may not elicit much sympathy outside the education industry, -- 9 till 4 and all those summer holidays, -- but it is simply not like that as anybody who is in the job or married to a teacher will tell you.

Now the French on the other hand have a much more sensible approach to the problem of over loading the resorts at half term. They have broken the country into three areas, all with different winter half terms so as not to overload the ski resorts like we do.
22 February – 9 March 2020 (Zone A); 15 February – 2 March 2020 (Zone B); 8–24 February 2020 (Zone C)
And what is more, they have two weeks to go skiing! https://www.education.gouv.fr/calendrier-scolaire-100148

The French clearly value their teachers more than we do with 18 weeks a year out of the class room including National holidays whilst we here in the UK are given only 13 weeks including Bank holidays. https://365thingsiloveaboutfrance.com/tag/la-rentree/ and https://eastgateacademy.co.uk/term-dates/

I have great respect for the teachers who give their blood sweat and tears (literally) to get your children skiing.
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Cheesie168 wrote:
@TCSC47, seems a bit odd as one on mine in Yr 9 went to Germany for 3 school days on a trip in December. The other in Yr 9 also will miss 4 days of school in May for a Spain trip. They school ski trip left (without them) at noon on the Friday pre-half term.
Well, if your school is taking time out of term time they are breaking or bending the rules. And in this day of Name, Blame and Shame they risk sanctions from Ofsted. That is all I can say not knowing your precise details.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
NickYoung wrote:
It's an urban myth.

I have run a January ski trip for over a decade.

Sounds like unsupportive management teams pulling the wool over your eyes.
Independant school?
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Nope.

I'm not aware of a single LEA who "ban" term time trips.

This isn't coming "from above".
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@TCSC47, nope an OFSTED outstanding school, admittedly a selective grammar, but still a regular state school that has to obey the rules.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@TCSC47, nope an OFSTED outstanding school, admittedly a selective grammar, but still a regular state school that has to obey the rules. Mind you getting off the point of the thread, which I had read with interest. Did not sign ours up for the ski trip, for two reasons money (as twins) and thought that they might not get that much out of it as they graduated from ESF lessons years ago. I know see that this might have been short sighted of me. So if we win the lottery between now and this time next year I might sign them up in Yr 10.
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TCSC47 wrote:
Cheesie168 wrote:
@TCSC47, seems a bit odd as one on mine in Yr 9 went to Germany for 3 school days on a trip in December. The other in Yr 9 also will miss 4 days of school in May for a Spain trip. They school ski trip left (without them) at noon on the Friday pre-half term.
Well, if your school is taking time out of term time they are breaking or bending the rules. And in this day of Name, Blame and Shame they risk sanctions from Ofsted. That is all I can say not knowing your precise details.


Trips to Germany, Spain etc will be to support the curriculum in subject such as history or languages.

Son had 3 trips to germany - yr 8 one week exchange for German, german child came to us, year 10 trip to Berlin for History GCSE and year 11 trip for AS Level German - work placement exchange - german kid came here

Those trips all run during term.
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My pair ducked out of the Yr 8 Italy trip (24 hours on a coach - pitched at beginners) in favour of the Yr 10 North America trip (Killington for one; Jasper for the other - aimed at more experienced skiers).

Oddly, the cost for both options was circa £1000, which seems bad value for the former and good value for the latter, particularly Jasper. Both had a great time, with great tuition. Neither left anything behind either, which is a great "life skill"!
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My daughter had the option to go on her yr10 trip to Italy this year, but decided not to go. Only mentioning this as it was in January, well away from half term, so it seems that schools can choose, if they want too. Regular, normal school, not private.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
My son has just come back from a half term trip to Italy. The school made it clear from the start that it is the governors who do not approve of term time trips for this type of activity, so they have to be in school holidays.

In terms of the trip he spent a total of 57 hours on a coach travelling there and back, some of that due to delays in getting there around Lyon and Calais coming back. He was disappointed at the 4 hours skiing offered per day, but looking at the tour operators website that is all they offer for all their trips.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@akdaka, My daughter had 5 hours of ski tuition a day on her school ski trip at half term. Maybe your school could look at other tour operators.


@The Flying Snowplough, I think 1k is reasonable for an all inclusive hotel based half term ski trip. To book an all inclusive hotel, plus tuition, equipment, travel etc for a family of four at half term I'd imagine it would come to more than 4k.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Quote:
@akdaka, My daughter had 5 hours of ski tuition a day on her school ski trip at half term. Maybe your school could look at other tour operators.



I believe they use the same operator year in year out, due to the service the school gets and the choice of resorts. My son just feels that they spent a lot of time in the hotel rather than on the slopes.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I'd be well narked with only 4 hours skiing a day, especially if all of it was spent in ski school. Sure the experience of going away with pals builds good life skills - but they can do that on an outward bound type course in the UK.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I went on 2 school ski trips in the 1970s and they were life-changing. First time abroad, first time on a 'plane, first time seeing proper mountains and snow, first time getting absolutely hammered with school teachers in some dodgy Italian bar aged 15, etc etc (I don't think that goes on much now!) So, if my darling mother hadn't taken an extra job to make sure I could go, I would have seriously missed out. If I remember rightly it cost around £130 - flights, transfers, half board, ski hire, lessons, passes, insurance, clothing hire - that's right, nobody had all the gear.

Conversely, when my own kids came home with the ski trip info (@ £1200 by flippin' coach!) I pointed out that they'd already experienced all of the above many times and would they prefer me putting that money towards a better family holiday - they went for the family holiday.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
My daughter is getting 5 hours tuition a day (by a fellow Snowhead I think?!), and I believe there won't be any skiing outside this; they're in at 4pm, then off for bowling, hiking, disco (it says in the timetable). A bit of me thought that was rather mean, but I guess the idea is not to let unsupervised 13 year olds go off and play "who can bomb down the icy black the fastest", or "what happens if we play in the deep snow under the trees over there". "Lessons" is as much a euphemism for "supervision" in this case. On our own holidays I pay for a couple of hours' lessons each day, but then we all ski as a family (or better, without mum) for the rest of the day as much as we want.

I had really hoped she'd start boarding, as she's wanted to for a few years and I kept delaying it, and 30 hours of teaching in Switzerland would have been great for that. But apparently she's the only one who wanted to board, and as they are group lessons not private they won't have a group of just one. We'll talk when she gets back but right now I'm not seeing a strong reason to send her again.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Orange200 wrote:
I guess the idea is not to let unsupervised 13 year olds go off and play "who can bomb down the icy black the fastest", or "what happens if we play in the deep snow under the trees over there". "Lessons" is as much a euphemism for "supervision" in this case.


...which led me to wonder when they can be trusted unsupervised, and I see there are a couple of good threads on this already:

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=72008
https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=108858
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snowymum wrote:
@The Flying Snowplough, I think 1k is reasonable for an all inclusive hotel based half term ski trip. To book an all inclusive hotel, plus tuition, equipment, travel etc for a family of four at half term I'd imagine it would come to more than 4k.
Fair point, though for us, a major cost is flying, so I'd expect the coach trip version to be cheaper. The Jasper trip was a "steal" - midweek flights at Easter helped.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Frosty the Snowman wrote:
I don't know of a kid that hasn't loved their school ski trip.


My sister didn't enjoy it at all. She found Skiing OK but not fab and she was very homesick.
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Orange200 wrote:
Orange200 wrote:
I guess the idea is not to let unsupervised 13 year olds go off and play "who can bomb down the icy black the fastest", or "what happens if we play in the deep snow under the trees over there". "Lessons" is as much a euphemism for "supervision" in this case.


...which led me to wonder when they can be trusted unsupervised, and I see there are a couple of good threads on this already:

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=72008
https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=108858


I was happy to let my pair go off together when they were 15 and 14. There's no way I'd take legal responsibility for someone else's kids to ski unsupervised though!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Coming from a family, none of whose members skied, I first skied with the 6th Form college when a girl in my form class, who had skied with her family, insisted that I'd love it and ought to go.
I confess that at the age of 17 I was more motivated by the prospect of who I might get to snog than this nebulous concept of 'skiing' but she was right and I did like it... as U may have guessed snowHead
Without that trip, which Mum paid for with fivers and tenners saved out of 'housekeeping', there's almost no likelihood that I would have ever skied Confused

OTOH, when Dark Lord Cuddles started secondary school, one of the first things I enquired after was whether there was a school ski trip. At least 4 members of staff told me that there wasn't (or there was but not any more) before I discovered that there actually was...but it was full. They seemed to be keeping it very quiet - I think because they had an ongoing arrangement to fill just half a coach, shared with another school.

I encouraged the Boy to go on it and eventually he did enquire but came home raging: "I'm not going all that way just to ski for 4hrs a day!" I tried to get him to see other positives but to no avail.
It's fair to say though, that already being a veteran of various snowHeads bashes, they were always going to have difficulty meeting his expectations!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Didn't ski till I left university and could afford , no ski trips at my school I was very jealous of my sisters whose school did ski trips. Childrens school didn't ski either but they had plenty of family holidays.
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Frosty the Snowman wrote:
I don't know of a kid that hasn't loved their school ski trip.


You never met Bostik Ballinger, so called for his propensity to break bones.

In Austria in 1975, poor kid skied straight into the one tree on an otherwise clear and gentle slope. Result: broken bone.

He didn't enjoy that particular trip!
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@Richie_S, sounds to me like he learnt a hell of a lot from the week;
a) you can get to/from places cheaply but it is slower, less comfortable and more tiring!
b) you won't like everyone you have to interact with in your life but you have to get along with them
c) first/face values aren't always the right ones, get to know someone before you rule them out

It would be difficult to teach those life lessons in many other ways!

(plus he got a week skiing with his mates without mum and dad)
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
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My son had a suspected ankle fracture the day before his year 10 ski trip last year and he was gutted. Never mind, you can do it the following year we said. Fast forward, a new teacher organising the trip who ruled out year 11’s “because they had to prep for GCSEs”. So in short, sadly, I can’t answer your question. Did the other boys have a cracking time - absolutely.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
My son turned down the offer of school ski trips in years 8 and 9, thinking it would be boring as he started skiing at 4 yrs. He then decided to go in year 10, and when he got home declared it “one of the best weeks of my life”, and wishes he could go again (they don’t offer to year 11 due to GCSEs). The school took two coach loads and there were skiers of all levels. They skied pretty much all day and although the terrain wasn’t really challenging it was fun being with a group of school mates. They had activities in the evenings as well. My daughter went on the same trip. She enjoyed the skiing and being away with friends but didn’t enjoy the 24 hr coach journeys as she can’t sleep when travelling. She also found the lack of sleep throughout the trip (generally sleeping from after midnight till 7am alarm), really difficult. Especially when added to the full days’ skiing as we often have a couple of lazy half days when we are away as a family. She didn’t go this year but has applied to go again next year.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
My son is in the privileged position of skiing a lot with us, and also being sent on the school ski trip this year for the first time.

His skiing made negligible progress. His social progress was of incalculable value. I think the whole social aspect of school trips is massively underrated. In addition he had to sort his own gear out every night or it would still be wet the next morning, get himself up, packed etc for the day and to ski school on time etc.

We love our family skiing, but school trips teach a lot of things that can’t be learnt on a family trip. Given the straight choice of one or the other, I’d go school trip.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I will second the social progress. It seems my daughter is only one of 4 in the advanced group, the other 20(?) are inter or lower. She is also the only Y9 so she is now interacting with girls in the year(s) above. Both will give her a boost at school.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Richie_S wrote:
On the down side, he's had two really quite challenging long distance coach/ferry/coach journeys and was delayed 6 hours at Calais on return last night. The first 'text' we got on his first night was that he hated the room he was in and the other kids he was rooming with.


I wouldn't call that down side. That's all character building stuff that they don't learn at school.

Richie_S wrote:
On the plus side, a weeks worth of independence, having to sort his own stuff out for a week and take responsibility for getting ready for a day on the slopes each day... some great skiing and some excited texts home each night about the 'jumps' he'd done, the speed he'd achieved and the number of blacks he'd done...and the kids in his room "weren't that bad, after all"


So by being forced to room with people who he wouldn't have chosen, he's learnt to get on with them. Fantastic - a really important life skill. And he enjoyed his week - even better.

As others have said, a school ski trip is unlikely to stretch an experienced skier, because most of their class mates won't be at that level and supervision requirements can limit the time on the pistes. That doesn't mean they won't enjoy the skiing and evening activities (e.g. bowling, ice skating). More important is that they are going away with their mates (or new mates) and gaining some independence from their parents in a safe setting. For students whose parents don't ski, a school trip might be the only opportunity they have to learn, and there will almost always be some absolute beginners on the trip that they can learn with (the teacher would communicate beforehand in the extremely unlikely event that prior experience was required).

Full disclosure: I work for a company that arranges school ski trips. Views are my own.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Our son, @camskisam also went on his first school ski-trip to Austria last week and it was more for his social progression and independence than for his skiing progression. He didn't have his usual "staff" i.e. us, to sort everything out for him...

As you can expect for a veteran of 3 SnowHeads bashes and well over a dozen weeks of skiing, as a yr7 kid he slotted straight into the advanced group. Even though he was the youngest on the trip his teachers couldn't keep up and he gave the yr10s some competition Happy

They weren't allowed to ski without their instructor and so were limited to around 5 hours of lessons on each day. This is the side-effect of a trip like this having to cater for all abilities and getting everyone back to a common meeting point in reasonable time.

His biggest gripe was the ~26hrs of coach travel and the delay for the ferry on the return trip due to the weather but when he was asked if he wanted to go again his answer was "yes, probably". For him, that's quite an endorsement!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
If you can afford to let them go without cutting down on too many other things for the rest of the family then letting your young folk go on a school trip is a great way to release them from the nest. Self reliance and a significant of independence will develop, they will learn to be more tolerant of other people, they will learn that not everything goes right all the time and that mum and dad will not always be around to "put things right". Great opportunity for many children to learn to ski who might not otherwise get a chance. Fun for all. But, dont let them think school trips or anything similar are theirs as of right. Encourage them to realise that this type of activity is expensive and if they get the skiing bug one day they will have to pay for it themselves. Sending them off with enough money to enjoy themselves but not enough to get into trouble or encourage wastefulness. I first went skiing when I was about 16 with the school. It was back in the days of leather lace up boots and I think wooden skis, where we went didnt have lifts so we had to walk up the hills then ski down. We travelled in couchettes through the night. Amazing experience all round and I never forgot it. It was many years before I actually took up skiing but I had retained a love of the mountains and the environment and I remain so very very grateful to my parents who had to scrimp and scrape to get together the cost.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
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" But, dont let them think school trips or anything similar are theirs as of right. Encourage them to realise that this type of activity is expensive and if they get the skiing bug one day they will have to pay for it themselves. "

Mine went only after she had promised that she would step up in three areas of study that she was really resistant to. And as she slacked off after a month or two, once I'd made the first two of four payments, it took some very stern words to steer her back on track.
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Ok my daughter is just back from her first school ski trip.

She is likely to have a lot more cred at school as she was one of the few in the advanced group. A couple of boys in the inter group had apparently been skiing several times and loudly and proudly declared they were advanced, until the instructors assessed them. Like many of us(?), they could get down but it wasn't pretty or controlled - or even, on occasions, upright. When the classes crossed mid-week, daughter couldn't resist blasting past them. Apparently the loudmouths are now a lot quieter.

She says her skiing is better, even if she can't really work out why. Seems there was some tidying up of turns, pole plants etc.

Her group included girls from the year above and/or different parts of the school. They all got on well so her social circle in school has widened.

She shared a room with one good friend and a couple of others she hadn't really spoken to before. The good friend apparently leads a protected life, is very timid, and was expecting to cry every night away from home. No crying and they were all firm friends by the end of it.

We got another bonus, which is that my daughter speaks quite good Portuguese but doesn't really like speaking it (English in school, English at home...). All other girls in the room were Portuguese, so you can guess what the common language was. When we picked her up from the airport and she was getting a flood of messages in the car on the way back, she was muttering to herself in Portuguese as she answered them.

A few including her said the food wasn't nice. I shrug. To reflect a favourite phrase of hers, "Life isn't always cupcakes and rainbows".

I asked if she'd like to go again next year. The answer was a definite "yes". Why? "Because it's so much nicer skiing with my own friends, and not having parents tell us what to do all the time".

Hmm. We'll see.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I live in hope that my 8 year old daughter will want to go on a school Ski trip when she gets to senior school. Currently she doesn't really like skiing, but I think it has a lot to do with her being so much worse at it than her older brother. A school trip where she turns up telling people she's not very good and she finds out she's actually the best would do her confidence the world of good and might even encourage her enough to start enjoying her skiing.
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