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School Trips: What Parents Should Know

By: Louise Tobias BA (hons) - Updated: 27 Jan 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
School Trip Planning Children Pupils

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 Organisers

On 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 Safety

Particular 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

Supervision

Ask the school what the staff-pupil ratios will be throughout the trip, and whether any of the participants have special needs that could require higher levels of supervision. Also consider what will be involved in the trip.

Look into Travel Arrangements

Consider ideas such as who will be in charge of transporting your child, and what qualifications he or she has to do so. All buses and coaches involved should have seatbelts and travel should be supervised.

Emergency planning

>Lastly, ask the school what emergency plans are in place in case of events such as injury or illness, bullying, or children being lost.

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My son is 10 years old and his school wants to take him to a residential trip overseas. They are even going to set out a camp site and make them stay in forests and sleep on hammocks or the ground! (they are required to take sleeping bags along) I am quite protective of my son and do not want him to attend this trip. I feel it's too far away and he is too young for this at the moment. (He is still in primary school!) I refused to send him to the trip but the school argues that "it is a part of their curriculum and development". Do I have the right to refuse my child from attending this trip? Is there any way to not send him to this without lying about it through an excuse? (I know some parents are doing this but I feel it's against my ethical values..)
El - 27-Jan-16 @ 5:00 AM
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