Stricter safety rules in wake of trip deaths

THE Government this week issued new safety guidance for school trips after a series of fatal accidents, writes Amanda Kelly.

Every local education authority will be required to appoint a special outdoor education adviser to oversee outings. Schools will have to nominate a teacher as a visits co-ordinator.

All trips will need to be thoroughly assessed for potential risks twice: once at the initial planning stage by the authority to address major hazards and once by the school's nominated co-ordinator. The guidance also confirms that the legal responsibility for school trips rests with the authority rather than the headteacher or other member of staff.

Stephen Twigg, minister for young people and learning, said: "Parents need to know that every measure will be taken to protect their children from danger. LEAs and teachers need to feel confident they have the training and clear framework to carry out their jobs safely and successfully."

Teaching unions welcomed the new guidelines, but feared that the extra burdens may put some teachers off organising trips altogether.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "The guidance is in danger of creating excessive bureaucracy when it requires all schools to make a member of staff responsible for all trips.

"Educational visits are an essential part of the curriculum for many schools. It would be unfortunate if additional requirements placed on schools were to lead to teachers voting with their feet and abandoning school trips in the future."

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