East Lindsey school defends taxpayer-funded trip to New York for pupils and teachers
A SCHOOL has defended a taxpayer-funded trip to New York for 40 of its pupils and six teachers.
The East Lindsey academy is spending £32,000 on the all-expenses-paid trip, which has been criticised by teaching unions and a local councillor.
Skegness Academy said the lucky pupils were selected on the basis of attendance records, study records and attitude – and an application letter outlining how the trip could "support the subjects they are studying".
Critics have accused Skegness Academy of using the expedition to make the school more attractive to prospective pupils and their parents.
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Ian Stephenson, of the National Union of Teachers, said the cost of the trip could pay the annual salary of an extra teacher at the academy, rated ‘good’ by Ofsted.
Lincolnshire councillor Mark Smith, who is a governor at Skegness Grammar School, said: "The academy, by giving holiday rewards and free uniforms, is trying to increase its numbers at the expense of neighbouring schools, not just in Skegness but the wider area."
The lucky pupils, who will have their flights and accommodation paid for, were specially selected after submitting written applications to the school stating why they should be given a place on next month’s trip.
The decision has been attacked by the National Union of Teachers who say the money could have funded an extra teacher at the school.
NUT regional secretary Ian Stephenson said: "It throws up issues about access to education and value for money.
"This is a great opportunity for some children but it means other children will miss out. The money being spent could easily fund another teacher.
"It is an issue about taxpayers money. The amount that is being spent on a number of pupils going to New York could be spent on another teacher."
Emma Hadley, executive principal,said: "We think it is a once in a lifetime transatlantic experience. We believe this is value for money as a learning experience.
"It links very, very closely to their sixth form studies. We have students who will be looking at architecture, art, music, terrorism and politics while they are in New York.
"Our money comes directly from the Government and because of the way Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust operate there are economies and efficiencies of scale.'
The school is part of the Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust , which said in a statement: "Pupils wishing to go on the trip had to submit a letter of application to the Head of Sixth Form.
"Pupils had to highlight a specific area of interest and demonstrate how the trip would support the subjects that they are studying. "In addition, a number of other criteria were applied such as attendance, attitude and whether the pupil was up to date with their studies.
"On their return the pupils will write a piece about their chosen topic which will be formally assessed.
"The pieces of writing will then be showcased at a celebration evening for parents along with photographs and films that the pupils took during the trip.
"The Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust only works in areas of social and economic disadvantage and often pays for pupils to go on trips that they would not normally be able to afford to broaden their experiences and to enhance their studies."