Teens’ New York jaunt costs Berlin €40,000

A Berlin school shocked authorities when it applied for a subsidy of over €38,000 to take 15 pupils on a week-long class trip to New York to improve their English.

Teens' New York jaunt costs Berlin €40,000
Photos: DPA

The application from the Robert-Koch Gymnasium (secondary school) in Kreuzberg for their trip, slated for October 8th to 15th of this year, stunned workers at the local Jobcenter when it landed on their desks, Tagesspiegel reported.

But the trip was nevertheless allowed to go ahead.

Teachers applied for €2,189 per pupil for flights and accommodation, €140 for food and €210 for other costs.

They had submitted the application for funding under the federal government's “Education and participation programme” (BuT), which is supposed to allow low-income families to do more for their children.

But costs are more usually in the region of €300-€700 per person, as trips have to be affordable for parents who neither qualify for state aid nor have huge amounts of disposable income.

This class, though, didn't have that restraining factor, as all 15 families were eligible for federal help.

“I allowed this to happen once, and that may have been one too many times,” school head Rainer Völkel told Tagesspiegel of his decision to sign the forms.

But he insisted that he had questioned the teachers closely about how necessary the trip was before being convinced by their arguments.

“This is no one-off case,” a source at the Berlin social administration told the newspaper, noting that many schools in the capital are networked with schools abroad through partnerships and often send groups on visits.

But the BuT programme often backfires, excluding children from slightly higher-earning families from expensive state-subsidised trips taken by the least well-off.

The city has spent €7.7 million on class trips under the BuT programme so far in 2015.

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