Going Places risks parental backlash

Holiday company’s new school scheme could ride roughshod over the latest NCC guidelines

Holiday company Going Places is courting controversy by tying up with schools in a scheme to use holidaymakers’ money to fund schools’ sports equipment.

The National Consumer Council (NCC) says such tie-ups should have educational value and curriculum relevancy. It also stipulates that sales and promotional materials should not include explicit encouragement to buy branded or own-branded products or services.

The NCC issued guidelines last year following an investigation which found a “worrying number of flaws” in educational teaching packs and activities. All schools should have copies of the guidelines.

The NCC says it has not discussed the scheme with Going Places, while Going Places refuses to comment on the detail of its arrangements with schools.

The travel agent, owned by tour operator Airtours, is the UK’s second largest. It is launching the scheme today (Wednesday). The scheme involves using a proportion of holidaymakers’ deposits to buy sports equipment for schools.

The move is thought to be the first time a holiday company has become involved in a “collector” scheme with schools.

There have been other sponsorship schemes to raise money for schools sports equipment. Boots was forced to make a U-turn on its voucher scheme in 1993 (MW November 26 1993) after criticism that too many vouchers were needed to buy the most basic equipment.

“If it is simply about selling holidays then it is on dangerous ground because parents will not be happy,” says one educational source.

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