MORE FUNDS are needed to run school trips as school budgets are being consistently cut, a headteacher has said.

Simon Mason, headteacher at Honywood School in Coggeshall, said changes would have to be made to how trips are funded so every child has an opportunity to attend.

The school has asked for voluntary contributions from parents, however some cannot afford to pay.

To make up the shortfall in funds, as of September school trips will include a charge for staff time beyond contracted hours.

Mr Mason said: "We have never levied a cost for the time teachers put into trips and visits in the past so effectively have run every past trip on the goodwill that teachers bring to their jobs.

"Teachers do not get paid overtime, however they sacrifice, for free, a huge amount of their time to make trips and visits work.

"It seems reasonable, therefore, to ask for a contribution based on the sacrifice teachers make to enable trips to take place.

"This sum could then be used to support families who cannot afford to pay for their youngsters to attend trips."

Between 2015 and 2016 there was a £15,000 shortfall.

Department for Education rules state families can only be asked to make voluntary contributions towards any trip that is part of learning.

Families have written in to request support from the school if they cannot pay, and to support those families a fund was built up.

At its peak it contained £140,000, but this has now been used up.

Mr Mason said: "We have got better at ensuring families make the contributions they have pledged, but you can also see we have a significant need in our community, funds for which have to come from somewhere as the youngsters in these families are entitled to take part in our trips and we want them to be able to do so."

Once the support fund ran out the school budget was used, but Mr Mason said because it has been so severely cut the school moved to a new model.

It proved unpopular as it meant the trips could only be run if some families had costs paid for by others.

Mr Mason said: "We believe giving young people the time to immerse themselves in learning beyond the classroom is critical to their all-round development.

"However hard it is becoming to find the resources to do this, we are determined not to lose this vital element of learning."

For the rest of the year those who have not pledged the sum required will be written to, asking if they can increase their contribution to reduce shortfall.