School trips offer a great opportunity for children to learn away from the educational establishment. It is widely accepted that pupils should be able to take advantage of a wide range of activities and that health and safety rules should not prevent them from doing so.
However, although the government is keen to make it easier for schools to take their pupils on such trips, there are still rules which must be adhered to. Although the paperwork has been reduced, schools still have to take on board regulations which are designed to keep children safe.
One of the benefits of such an activity is that children also learn how to understand risk in the outside world.
The government’s overview of rules and suggestions for organisers can be found at the Department for Education’s website.
While common sense is the rule of thumb, the employer (the school) is responsible for health and safety, but the employees have a responsibility to look after others’ health and safety.
Often a trip will involve a bus trip, and a School Bus Booking and Management System such as this one provided by OFEC will help get the trip off to a safe start: https://www.ofec.co.uk/web-and-software-development-services/school-bus-booking-and-management-system.aspx.
Activities away from school will always involve a higher level of risk, and head teachers must ensure that a thorough assessment has taken place. This is especially the case when it is a new activity or venue.
The HSE policy indicates such assessments should focus on real risk – not paperwork. Nevertheless, schools must set out a written health and safety policy, and the HSE website offers a template for this.
So far as teachers are concerned, they have a duty to act as any prudent parent would in relation to any child in their care.
Parents will also have expectations in terms of the school’s own insurance policy and how children are covered. Meanwhile, the school will also have levels of expectations of pupils’ behaviour and will usually have rules in place. Such rules may not exempt the school for responsibility for an incident which should have been covered by their own assessment of risk.
School trips are a great opportunity for pupils to learn more about the world. Just make sure you follow the rules when organising one.