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School Trips: What Parents Should Know

By: Louise Tobias BA (hons) - Updated: 14 May 2019 | 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


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 has just been on a residential ski holiday to France with school. He was a beginner in group of 9 children. He failed to make the final turn into a stop and skied down a steep slope before stopping. He could no longer see his group. He then saw a girl he knew, skied after her then realised it wasn’t and was horribly lost. He cried and then skied alone to instructors office he’d seen earlier. They notified school and was collected hour later. He was then not allowed to ski again and sent to room to read for afternoon alone. They are trying to say it was his fault and he has a problem with rule and want him assessed. He is 9.5 and no one has ever suggested he has any special needs and they’ve said he’s not allowed on next school trip. We are doing nothing but letting them tell us it’s his fault and they are completely bullying us and him. They say he skied off but they didn’t even realise he was gone til 10mins later when they did headcount at bottoms lift. His friend told him. I am disgusted and can’t believe they are trying to blame him entirely m. It’s only his second ever trip abroad and they were brutal. Can I complain to anyone?!?! It is completely unfair. To suggest special needs as they lost him is disgusting.
WorriedMum - 14-May-19 @ 10:40 PM
My son was on his residential yesterday when he went to the bathroom some boys locked him inthe loo after asking to them to let him out he has paniced and tried kucking the door which as resulted in a hole my sons father died 4 yrs ago and my son at 6 found him dead in the bathroom he has a phobia of the bathroom and at home us reluctunt to get ibath if i dont sit in there. As a result my son aswell as the others got sent home. Im disgusted that my son was in that situation paniced that much he tried kucking his way out were was the teachers who was supervising im going in to school on monday does anyone have any advice as i certainly need it
donna rigby - 30-Jun-18 @ 11:05 PM
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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