Found this - worth reading through before you pay for your kid's next school trip!
In general, no charge can be made for admitting pupils to maintained schools. Where education is provided wholly or mainly during school hours, it should be free. It is therefore not possible to levy a compulsory charge for transport or net.gov.uk/management/atoz/c/chargingforactivities/index.cfm?code=main[/img]
admission costs for swimming lessons or for visits to museums, etc. during school hours.
The LA or governing body may not charge for anything unless they have drawn up a statement of general policy on charging. The governing body's policy may be more or less generous than the LAs, as long as it meets the requirements of the law.
Head teachers or governing bodies may ask parents for a voluntary contribution towards the cost of:
* any activity which takes place during school hours;
* school equipment;
* school funds generally.
The contribution must be genuinely voluntary, though, and the pupils of parents who are unable or unwilling to contribute may not be discriminated against. Where there are not enough voluntary contributions to make the activity possible, and there is no way to make up the shortfall, then it must be cancelled.Residential Trips
Schools are permitted to charge for the cost of board and lodging during residential school trips. This cost must not exceed the actual cost of the provision.
Where the trip takes place wholly, or mainly, during school hours children whose parents are in receipt of the following support payments will, in addition to having a free school lunch entitlement, also be entitled to the remission of these charges:
* Income Support
* Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
* support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
* Child Tax Credit provided the parent is not entitled to Working Tax Credit and their annual income does not exceed £15,575
* Guaranteed State Pension Credit
A similar entitlement applies where the trip takes place outside of school hours but it is necessary as part of the national curriculum, forms part of the syllabus for a prescribed examination that the school is preparing the pupil to sit, or the syllabus for religious education. Source