Lincolnshire

Skegness Academy pays for trip to New York for 40 pupils

Skegness Academy
Image caption The trust which runs the schools insists the trip to New York is educational.

An academy has defended spending £32,000 on a trip to New York as a reward for pupils with good attendance.

Skegness Academy is paying for flights and accommodation for 40 pupils.

Lincolnshire county councillor Mark Smith questioned the use of the money and said it will affect pupil numbers at neighbouring schools.

The Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust, which is funded by the government and runs the academy, said the trip was "value for money".

Six staff who will be accompanying the pupils will travel for free under terms negotiated with the travel company.

The school, which has 1,200 pupils, selected students on their attendance and attitude and each had to write an application letter stating how it would support their studies.

Executive principal Emma Hadley said the four-day trip in February would teach pupils about art, architecture, music, terrorism and politics.

Appropriate trip

"We believe this is value for money as a learning experience, that is enjoyable," she said.

"Working in the areas that we work, which are areas of social and economic disadvantage, it is appropriate that we support the learning and we support the payments of these trips."

But the expedition was criticised by Mr Smith, who is also a governor at Skegness Grammar School.

He said it was rewarding behaviour which should be considered normal and questioned whether it was necessary to go as far as New York.

He added: "My concern ultimately is that the academy, by giving holiday rewards and free uniforms, is actually trying to increase its numbers at the expense of neighbouring schools, not just in Skegness but the wider area."

The Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust was set up to oversee the running of the academy, which opened in 2010, and sponsors 13 academies including others in Nottingham, Mansfield, Leicester and Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire.

Ian Stevenson, from the National Union of Teachers, added: "This is a great opportunity for some children but the majority of children miss out and there is an issue here about access to education and the value for money.

"The amount of taxpayers' money being spent on a trip to New York could easily fund another teacher for a year."

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