School journeys - making them safer

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School trips are a crucial element of every child’s learning experience, bringing what they learn in the classroom to life.

There have been some high-profile incidents resulting in the death or injury of pupils while on school trips and, as a result, some teachers, teaching unions and schools have expressed a reluctance to provide school journeys.

However, the government has said that it wants outdoor learning, including school trips, to be part of every pupil’s experience and it has provided guidance to ensure that all such visits are carried out to the highest safety standards.

Detailed guidance

The following guidance is available:

Department for Education, Health and safety: advice on legal duties and powers – for local authorities, school leaders, school staff and governing bodies, February 2014.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Planning and leading visits and adventurous activities – guidance for schools and colleges teaching children and young people from 5 to 18 years.

Who is responsible for what?

The governing body, through the school’s senior management team, needs to ensure that mechanisms are set up for school trips to be planned effectively and safely.

A school policy on the organisation of school trips should be drawn up. The policy should identify roles, such as the one described below, and take account of guidelines issued by the local education authority (LEA).

Step-by-step procedures for planning and organising trips should be explicitly mapped out. A plan for managing a serious crisis, should one occur, should also be mapped out.

Preparing a calendar of trips is helpful to the school and to parents. The school can plan its staffing and cover requirements and identify which staff can accompany individual trips. Parents are able to make an informed choice about which trip they wish their child to go on, knowing that another trip will not suddenly become available later on.

A senior teacher should have responsibility

A senior and experienced member of staff should be given responsibility by the senior management team for co-ordinating all residential trips. Their role should be as follows:

  • to support any teachers planning a residential trip
  • to co-ordinate a calendar of proposed trips and keep parents informed
  • to ensure that all aspects of school policy and LEA policy are being adhered to
  • to manage any budgets relating to trips
  • to arrange for any necessary risk assessments to be undertaken and for insurance cover to be taken out
  • to liaise with the school’s senior management team
  • to provide or organise any relevant in-service training.

Given that a good school will want to encourage teachers to organise trips for the benefit of its pupils, support needs to be in place to provide the necessary staff development for those without the relevant experience.

Such staff may need advice in a number of areas, including relevant local, national and international regulations; risk assessment processes; staffing of trips; liaison with parents; liaison with tour operators; and managing budgets.

How can we help you?

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