When looking back on your own school days what do you remember most? Maybe you remember choosing stationery at the end of August or the boredom of your least favourite lesson, or perhaps the memories that have stood the test of time involve school trips to exciting new places.
School trips can offer children a break from the classroom while teaching them the importance of respecting other cultures and the value of independence. They’ll also be able to engage in new topics which they may not have paid much attention to before.
However, due to health and safety concerns, it’s not unusual for children to miss out on school trips that actually pose very little risk. Many trips that could provide children with extremely rewarding and insightful experiences are not going ahead due to safety worries.
If you’re thinking of organising a school trip for your pupils, it’s important to ensure that certain health and safety measures are in place so that you can help parents to relax. They’re bound to be concerned, but by offering a trip that is well organised and planned out, you can prove that there is nothing to worry about.
Things to look out for
When planning a school trip, health and safety should of course be paramount. When investigating how safe the break is going to be, it’s often best to ask all the questions that you’d ask if you were going on a family holiday.
It’s usually best to use a specialist travel firm with experience in organising school trips, rather than planning everything yourself. This will save you time and money.
Health and Safety
If you do use a travel firm make sure they are STF members. The STF is a group of educational tour operators which only accepts members who adhere to a rigorous Code of Practice and Safety Management Standards and are audited each year by Argent Health & Safety, the UK’s leading Health and Safety Consultancy specialising in Travel, to ensure continuing compliance.
Whether you’re planning on travelling by coach, train, plane or ferry, it’s important to find out as much as you can, because parents are likely to ask you for all the details. Planes are known for undergoing numerous health and safety checks before lifting off the ground, and coaches should be the same. The chosen coach supplier should comply with safety rules and codes of practice.
Accommodation and activities
The best thing about booking through a specialist travel company is that the firm is likely to have extensive experience working with particular hotels, restaurants, and tour guides at the destination of your choice. They’ve probably spent years building relationships with these people to ensure that they operate to very high standards and can cater for any special circumstances such as food allergies or disabilities.
The chosen accommodation should be child-friendly, balconies must be safe and working smoke alarms must be fitted.
Licences and awards
Make sure that the trip is protected by the ATOL scheme. This will mean that if the travel company stops operating during the trip, an ATOL certificate can help. Without one, alternative plans may need to be made to get home and this could cost a significant amount of money.
ABTA has been an industry leading travel association for over 60 years. By looking for the ABTA logo when planning school trips, you can be assured that you are booking with a reliable company. ABTA members must follow a strict code of conduct so that a high standard of service is provided.
When looking for a school trip organiser, the School Travel Forum (STF) is a great resource. It has a group of Assured Members who offer excellent trips that can help to broaden pupils’ horizons and improve their learning.
The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom is the national voice for school trips. The team believe that every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom. Schools keen to offer their pupils the opportunity to explore nature, history and different cultures in an engaging environment are eligible to apply for various awards from the LOtC. While not all great schools have an LOtC award, if you are keen to be recognised for your efforts to improving pupils’ learning through activities outside the classroom, this could be a great opportunity.
Put parents’ minds at ease
While it is vital that all school trips are health and safety checked to prevent any accidents, the actual chance of a child being seriously hurt on a trip with teachers and classmates is extremely rare. In fact, research suggests that children are less likely to get hurt while on a school trip than they are in school.
When sending permission slips to parents, you might want to specify which teachers are fully qualified first aiders. Knowing there are people on hand to act in the event of an emergency can help parents to relax.
Parents need to know that even though they aren’t on the trip themselves, they’re still in good hands. By providing parents with plenty of information about the trip provider, you can encourage them to let their children attend.