There are lots of factors to consider when booking a school trip or arranging an out-of-school education provider. We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions here, however if you have any specific questions it is best to contact the trip provider directly.
You can click on the links below to go straight to that particular Q&A:
Q. What factors do I need to pay attention to when considering an educational trip?
A. Be mindful of the following factors:
- The gender, age and ability of group;
- Are there pupils with special educational or medical needs;
- The nature of activities;
- The experience of the adults in off-site supervision;
- The duration and nature of journey;
- The type of any accommodation;
- The competence of staff, both general and on specific activities;
- The requirements of the organisation/location to be visited;
- The competence and behaviour of pupils;
- The first aid cover available.
A. There’s a varied choice of school trip, accommodating a wide range of activities across the curriculum:
- Adventure activities using licensed providers
- Adventure activities using non-licensable providers
- School-led adventure activities
- Coastal visits
- Swimming pools visits
- Farm visits
- Field studies
- Residential visits
- Visits abroad
A. Before the trip, ask the activity centre for comprehensive details which they should then confirm in writing:
- Does the centre operate a policy for staff recruitment, training and assessment which ensures that all staff with any responsibility for the safety and welfare of participants are competent?
- Does the centre carry out criminal record checks as part of its recruitment procedures?
- Does the centre have a clear chain of responsibility set out in writing?
- Does the centre have written local operating procedures for each programme or activity offered?
- Does the centre guarantee that there is at least one responsible person with First Aid qualifications on site?
- Is the equipment used at the centre safe, appropriate, correctly sized and correct for the intended purpose?
- Is the equipment frequently checked and the results recorded?
- Has the centre produced a written document on accident and emergency procedures, including fire safety, and is this available?
- Does the centre provide insurance cover?
For more information, visit The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa)‘s website.
A. The majority of centres do allow inspection visits but you will need to check with each individual venue as there are some that don’t.
Q. What activities can a group expect to do on a visit to an outdoor activity centre?
A. Many centres can tailor your visit to meet curriculum needs, particular needs of your group, fit in with classroom sessions and prepare you for follow up work on your return to school.
A. Many centres offer various accommodation options and programmes of activities at differing prices. Needless to say, by visiting a local centre your travel costs will be much lower than on a trip to a faraway destination. Some venues offer a service to pick up the school group from the nearest train station.
A. You will need to ring up individual centres to enquire about their policies on teacher places. A few centres are aware that some LEAs insist on a higher ratio of staff to students and so are happy to quote you for the number of free teacher places you require.
A. This can vary per trip with many different factors to take into consideration. One group leader should manage the whole visit, then for individual activities within a visit, it is better for groups to be smaller, each with their own supervisor.
Some LEAs set their own levels of supervision for off-site visits, a general guide is; 1 adult for every 6 pupils in school years 1 to 3 (under 5s reception classes should have a higher ratio); 1 adult for every 10-15 pupils in school years 4 to 6; 1 adult for every 15-20 pupils in school year 7 onwards.
Where a high adult: pupil ratio is required, it is not always feasible to use school staff alone. Parents/volunteers may be used to supplement the supervision ratio.
A. This may vary depending on the size of your group and availability. Find out from each individual centre.
A. Responsibilities automatically fall to the head teacher. Having an EVC means the head teacher can delegate tasks involved in overseeing school trips.
A. The EVC can seek advice from the LEA’s outdoor educational adviser or an appropriately qualified technical adviser as necessary (contactable through the outdoor educational advisor). Look at www.oeapng.info/evc
A. This qualification is relevant to teachers who plan to lead or supervise curricular visits within their subjects e.g. fieldwork and adventurous activities. It is exam-based and can be combined with practical experience.
A. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website has lots of tips to help with your risk assessment, including examples of risk assessments for school trips.
The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) website refers to three risk categories based on complexity and carries a chart showing how these work. Complexity can arise from factors such as distance, transport, the activity and the make-up of the group.
A. The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom website at http://www.lotc.org.uk/ has loads of useful information as does the Health & Safety Executive – go to http://www.hse.gov.uk/services/education/school-trips.htm
Q. How do you know how safe an outdoor pursuit activity centre is?
A. Look for a centre with an Adventure Activities Licensing Authority licence, trained and experienced staff, and risk assessments available for inspection.
Q. What does it mean if a facility is licensed?
A. A license means that the Licensing Authority has inspected the provider and is satisfied with their management of safety of adventure activities. For details of current license holders see the AALA website at www.hse.gov.uk/aala
Q. What are the NGB and leader/instructor qualifications?
A. These are listed in the matrices set out in Guidance from the licensing authority on the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004 which can be downloaded or ordered (free of charge) from http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l77.htm
Q. What factors should be considered when planning transport?
A. Give careful thought to the following:
- Passenger safety;
- The competence and training of the driver to drive the proposed vehicle and whether the driver holds the appropriate valid license;
- The number of driving hours required for the journey and length of the driver’s day (including nondriving hours);
- The capacity and experience of driver to maintain concentration;
- The type and length of journey;
- Traffic conditions;
- Contingency funds and arrangements in case of breakdown/emergency;
- Appropriate insurance cover;
- Journey time and distance;
- Stopping points on long journeys for toilets and refreshments.
Q. What procedures should be in place for swimming pool trips?
A. If considering the use of a swimming pool not used before it is advisable to observe and check the following:
- Is there constant pool supervision by a sufficient number of qualified lifeguards
- Is the water temperature appropriate?
- Is the water clear
- Are there signs clearly indicating the depth – is there a shallow end and is the water there shallow enough?
- Does the deep end allow for safe diving?
- Is there a poolside telephone?
- Is there a resuscitator and is there someone trained to use them?
- Are there separate changing rooms for each gender
- Are the changing and showering facilities safe and hygienic?
Q. What risk factors are there to consider on a farm visit?
A. Taking children to a farm should be carefully planned. Consider farms that can demonstrate good practice. Look out for:
- Check that the farm is well-managed;
- Check that the farm has a good reputation for safety standards and animal welfare;
- Ensure that it maintains good washing facilities, clean grounds and public areas.
Q. What factors are there to consider when assessing a residential venue?
A. Issues for the group leader to consider include the following:
- There must be separate male and female sleeping/bathroom facilities for pupils and adults;
- Can the immediate accommodation area be used exclusively for the group;
- Is there appropriate safe heating and ventilation;
- Does the accommodation have clearly marked fire exits and lifts with inner doors that meet local regulations;
- Is there adequate space for storing clothes, luggage, equipment, and for the safe keeping of valuables;
- Is there adequate lighting – it is advisable to bring a torch;
- Are the balconies stable, windows secure, and electrical connections safe?