Alarmism over dangers of school trips

18th April 2008 at 01:00

We believe your legal column, "When death is corporate fault" (TES, April 4), was unduly alarmist about the new legal situation regarding corporate manslaughter. The legislation brings in new sanctions but there are no new duties and no new requirements on schools. Schools can ensure safe practice simply by following existing legislation and guidance.

A prosecution under the new legislation would only follow if a school were guilty of gross ignorance or inattention, or acted recklessly with a complete disregard to the risk. Vicarious liability does not apply; a rogue employee would not land a governing body or local authority in court; a prosecution would have to show that senior managers or governors had been complicit in the risk and had condoned or even promoted unsafe practices.

The widely held perception that school trips are in some way exceptionally dangerous is one of the barriers to wider pupil participation in out-of- classroom learning. The evidence is that school trips are safe. The few fatal accidents that occur are newsworthy not only because of the tragedy but because they are so rare.

This letter is supported by 35 other signatories to the Learning Outside the Classroom manifesto

Phil Revell, Chief executive, National Governors' Association; Anthony Thomas, Chief executive, Field Studies Council; and others.

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