School Trips: What Parents Should Know
School trips can offer wonderful opportunities for kids to enjoy themselves, as well as be great learning opportunities and a chance for your children to get to know classmates and teachers in a new setting. However, they can also be an event of some concern for parents, especially residential trips, when kids may be away from home or even abroad for a few days or even weeks. Here is the low down on the ins and outs of health and safety, financial and organisational issues for kids on a school trip.
Who is Responsible?In most instances, organising a trip during the academic day is up to the school - normally a teacher or administrators will be delegated the role of arranging the trip, including issues surrounding transportation and safety. In some cases, however, it could be that the local educational authority gets involved too. The school has responsibility for the health and safety of both staff and students embarking on a school trip and have a requirement to perform a detailed risk assessment for all activities that will be included in activities. The ultimate responsibility for the risk assessment will normally lie with the school’s headteacher.
The on the Ground OrganisersOn the day of the actual trip, schools will appoint a group leader whose job it will be to oversee and conducting the visit and it is usually the group leader who carries out the risk assessment. If you have any concerns ahead of a school trip, it is perfectly within your rights to make enquiries to ensure that the designated group leader has been properly trained to consider levels of risk. Good questions to ask include whether he or she has carried out a pre-trip visit to evaluate the risk assessment, and any issues surrounding health and safety issues and child protection - for example, have on-site workers been checked by the Criminal Records Bureau?
Health and SafetyParticular issues you might want to flag up are listed by the Health & Safety Executive as follows:
- Identify the dangers on site, and consider the most likely subjects of risk
- Consider the likelihood of the risk materialising, and its severity. Put precautions in place.
- With regard to trips to outdoor leisure centres or outdoor activity zones, look into whether the centre has its own health and safety policies set up, and make sure that the on site staff are suitably qualified.
- Look into the safety of equipment
You can find out more information in the leaflet Health and Safety of Pupils on Educational Visits: A Good Practice Guide. This is available at www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholeschool/healthandsafety/visits