Parents are being left in tears as schools increasingly ask families to pay thousands and thousands of pounds for foreign and exotic trips.

Freedom of Information requests to all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities revealed eye-watering costs for the excursions, raising fears that low-income families are missing out, despite an SNP government pledge to make the outings more "inclusive."

One school in Aberdeenshire is asking pupils to pay £5,500 for an excursion to Borneo.

A Renfrewshire high school is planning a trip for 12 senior students to Nepal next year, costing each student £4,500.

Our research shows that the level of help offered to low-income families varies widely from council to council. 

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In their 2021 manifesto, the SNP made a commitment to “support schools to provide inclusive trips and activities for all and ensure consistent practice across Scotland."

There was also a vow to “ensure that less-well off families do not face costs for curriculum related trips and activities” and that all pupils would “able to attend ‘rite of passage’ trips, such as P7 residentials".

That commitment was repeated again in the 2021/22 Programme for Government, with ministers saying they would “make sure that pupils from lower-income families can take part in school trips".

They also guaranteed that secondary school pupils would have “the right to go on at least one ‘optional’ trip during their time at school".

The Borneo trip is being offered by Peterhead Academy and is for 23 nights, which is far longer than most trips.

However, the cost still means that it is completely out of reach to all but the most well-off.

Meanwhile, Lochside Academy in Aberdeen is heading to Morocco at the end of the academic year, with pupils asked to pay £2,650.

One school in Fife is offering to take S3-S6 to New York for five nights at a cost of £1,750 per pupil.

Schools in at least four council areas are offering ski trips to Pila in the Alps for around £1,000.

Worryingly there are also some steep prices attached to visits in Scotland.

The cost of a visit to Whitelee Windfarm by S3 pupils at St Ninians in East Renfrewshire, just 8.5 miles away, was £51 per student.

Some schools use Pupil Equity Funding to help those on low incomes. Though rarely will it cover the entire cost. Others expect children to fundraise.

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John Dickie from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) said: “We know from our work just how important school trips are, especially for young people whose family circumstances mean they do not have the same home opportunities to visit and learn from new places.

"Whilst many schools work hard to remove and reduce costs it is all too clear that too many young people are still missing out, and too many parents are being put under yet another unmanageable financial pressure.

"The Scottish Government needs to ensure schools are resourced to deliver on the promise of inclusive trips and activities for all and to ensure that less well-off families do not face costs.

"Councils and schools need to prioritise school trips that are accessible to all pupils, and ensure no one is ever left behind because of their family's circumstances.

“Children and young people tell us that the cost of school trips leaves them feeling left out and embarrassed and means they miss out on new experiences, fun and learning.”

As part of their Cost of the School Day, CPAG spoke to a number of pupils about trips.

One told them: “It can be really embarrassing being the only person not going.”

Another said: “It is totally unfair to leave people out just because they're poor.”

“It’s not the child’s fault they can't afford and it’s an inevitable issue so they have to handle it better.”

One parent told the charity: “I broke down in tears in the office of the head teacher as my child was bullied as couldn’t afford the trip to New York and the head teacher claimed she never came across this issue before.”

Another said: “We were asked for nearly £200 for camp and ski lessons. This is just for one of my children. Older child at high school - they asked for £550 for his trip for his French class. It’s heartbreaking when you get these emails from school. It just makes me cry.”

Another said they felt pressured into paying for expensive trips. One said the head teacher “called every parent individually telling them it was a great opportunity for the child without taking into account the cost or short notice.”

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Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy said: “The commitment to make school trips inclusive to all has, like so many other promises from the SNP, not been delivered.

“No child should be excluded from school trips because they are not as well off as their peers.

“The SNP must ask what more they can do to deliver their promise and ensure all children can enjoy the benefits of school trips regardless of their background.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith said: “Whether it is the attainment gap, school meals, free laptops, or the education exchange programme, our young people are being let down at every turn by this SNP Government.

"The funding of school trips for pupils from more disadvantaged backgrounds must not become another empty promise.

"No young Scot should miss out on opportunities to broaden their horizons, which is why I am pursuing my Outdoor Education Bill.

"This is designed to enrich the lives of all young people by providing them with a knowledge and appreciation of environments and communities very different to those with which they are familiar. It will help to build resilience, confidence and self-esteem.

“It is vital that our young people – especially those who might otherwise miss out on these experiences – are given every chance to thrive. In the post Covid era this is more important than ever.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Class trips should be inclusive for all school pupils – no one should miss out on these vital experiences because their family is unable to afford the cost.

"We are continuing to work towards this commitment to ensure that learners from lower-income families can always join in.

“Scottish Attainment Challenge funding, including Pupil Equity Funding, is used by some schools to make sure that pupils face no costs for extra-curricular activities such as residential trips, theatre experiences and outdoor learning experiences.

"Wider policies such as removal of core curriculum charges and removal of charges for instrumental music tuition are also providing vital assistance to families.”