Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Public body to pay for school trips

Schools already have free admission to English Heritage sites such as Stonehenge

Schools that cannot afford the travel expense of taking pupils on trips are to have the costs covered by English Heritage.

The price of around 7,500 coaches to take children to historic sites each year is to be paid for by donations and legacies to the public body.

English Heritage said that around 10,000 state schools in England are eligible to apply for the History Bus scheme, and it expects around 30,000 youngsters will benefit this year.

Admission to the 400-plus sites in the organisation's National Heritage Collection is already free for schools, it said.

English Heritage chief executive Simon Thurley said: "People are more likely to visit historic sites if they first visited them as a child. The sites in the National Heritage Collection are free to all schools but the cost of actually getting to them is beyond the reach of many.

"Our History Bus scheme changes all that and it means that more teachers and children can get out of their classrooms and visit the places where history was made."

Education Secretary Michael Gove backed the initiative, saying it is "fantastic" that tens of thousands of schoolchildren will be able to visit sites that played a significant role in English history.

The move comes as English Heritage celebrates the centenary of the Ancient Monuments Act of 2013, which effectively established the National Heritage Collection.

The collection includes Hadrian's Wall, the Battle of Hastings battlefield and Queen Victoria's family home on the Isle of Wight.