A group leader must be appointed for all trips. The group leader holds responsibility for supervising and conducting the visit and it is usually the group leader who carries out the risk assessment.
The group leader should have been adequately trained/experienced to assess risk. The group leader may need to carry out a pre-trip visit to think through what needs to be considered when they carry out the risk assessment.
The risk assessment will need take into account both health and safety issues and child protection issues.
Health and safety issues
The DfES and the Health and Safety Executive offer the following advice for assessing risk:
Further detailed information can be obtained by reading Health and Safety of Pupils on Educational Visits: A Good Practice Guide (HASPEV) and A Handbook for Group Leaders, which is a supplement to it.
Child protection issues
Risk assessment in respect of child protection should cover the adults who will be accompanying children and young people, the adults that they will meet at Centre’s they visit and or places they will stay and the risks posed by individual children and young people to others.
Parents are often asked to volunteer to accompany children on day trips. It would be unreasonable to expect parents to undergo DBS checks and not at all practicable. However, you need to consider how volunteers are used and where possible parents should not be left alone with pupils.
Where the trip involves an overnight stay, volunteers must have an appropriate current DBS (or equiv.) check and one nominated ART person with basic training will be responsible for Safeguarding.
Centres providing activities for children should be asked to provide evidence that their staff have been checked.
Centres open to all members of the public should be asked what ‘child safe’ policies they have in place. Children should not be left unsupervised in any center that is not able to provide evidence of appropriate checks.
Unfortunately some children are known to pose considerable risk to other pupils. Where it is known that a pupil has subjected another child/young person to abuse, an individual risk assessment should be carried out. While it is recognized that such a young person may benefit from being included, and in some ways it may be even more beneficial to them than for other pupils, very careful consideration needs to be taken to the risk to others.
This is particularly important where the trip involves overnight stays. If the pupil has sexually abused others can they be adequately supervised? Can they have a separate bedroom for instance? Can staff ensure one-to-one supervision for the duration of the trip? In some cases schools may have to decide that a young person cannot go on the trip. Where this is the case make sure that the pupil and their parents are properly informed of the decision and the reasons for it.
Leaders need to decide on staff-pupil ratios .Consider ratios in respect of the age of the children, whether any of the children have special needs, the nature of the trip and activities, the experience of those accompanying pupils and the duration of the trip.
Make sure parents are given as much information as possible about the nature of the trip and the activities that are likely to be on offer. Parents may raise concerns about particular aspects of the trip and may need reassurance on safety issues. For longer trips it is useful to invite parents to a meeting to address these issues.
Make sure that travel arrangements are subject to risk assessment. Road travel is considered the most serious hazard on any school trip.
Next to road travel, taking pupils to coastal areas or rivers is considered the most hazardous activity.
Talking to pupils
Talking to pupils about the proposed trip is essential. Pupils may have very individual concerns about the trip or specific aspects of the trip. Stress the importance of safety to all pupils. Explain why you are going to do things like head counts, checking equipment, asking them to be quiet while you give instructions, etc.
Using the completed risk assessment try to ensure that emergency plans are in place in case of:
For overnight trips and larger groups (say 20+) a trained first aider may be appropriate. Parental permission forms are essential (either specific for the trip or general for the group) and should identify any medical conditions and parental/carer contact details.
Check to ensure if ART liability cover applies to your trip. Currently it does not cover trips but could be extended.
Supporting Staff, Teachers & Volunteer helpers
Finally make sure adults are able to take sure breaks if they need to. Escorting and supervising children offsite brings its own stresses and staff can feel overwhelmed by the responsibility.
For some it may be a new experience and to have children under their care and control for 24 hours can be particularly trying, especially if they are expected to manage a particularly unruly child. Make sure such helpers are well supported; after all we hope they will volunteer again next year!
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Last Modified: September 2014
Last Reviewed: January 2017