As well as being a freelance etc, I work in school - so here's one view from
the other side...
Risk assessments - total nightmare, even for trips to the local swimming
pool. And every child with a statmented special need has to have their own
risk assessment (I know - I'm currently working with a statemented Y6
Cost - you can't tell parents that they HAVE to pay for the trip. It has to
be a voluntary contribution - some parents won't pay. Add the travel costs
to any admission/activity charges and if it's a secondary school, the cost
of supply teacher cover for the members of staff on the trip and it does get
expensive. With schools being responsible for their own budgets they may be
choosing to spend it on e.g. extra sport, classroom support etc.
Preparation time - I agree, any changes to the curriculum mean you are faced
with hours of re-planning and re-writing schemes of work. Most teachers
won't have the spare time or energy to do a great deal before a visit.
While museums and galleries can't solve the cost problem I've found from
experience that those who have good risk assessment/planning paperwork in
place and used are the best to visit with a school group. Also as much help
as possible fitting the activities into the curriculum with well thought out
and structured sessions lead by museum staff. Here I would like to give a
mention to the education staff at Gloucester cathedral who have an excellent
day based on medieval pilgrimage.
Finally - it really does all depend on the level of enthusiasm of the
teachers and some schools do manage to get out more
I promise not to mention headlice in replica hats to anyone in my LEA!