Hazardous field of risk assessment

Your recent headline and report (TES, February 23) suggested that whiteboards were "stifling hands-on science", but the same article and a letter in the same issue from Andy Dukes on the report from the United Nations children's fund (Unicef) reinforced the fear that teachers and parents have about health and safety which lead to young people being denied controlled risk-taking opportunities on account of litigation fears.

Out-of-classroom learning and fieldwork can have a similar effect.

Analysis of Ofsted reports from all local education authorities in England shows that nearly 90 per cent of pupils taking science in secondary schools do not have the chance to study science outside the classroom.

The main reason for the latter is the lack of confidence and competence of many science teachers to work outside the classroom, plus the fear of litigation and the administrative burden associated with organising class trips.

Anthony Thomas Chair of the Real World Learning Campaign and chief executive of the Field Studies Council, Shrewsbury

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