Experience of a lifetime

5th March 2004 at 00:00
In the light of recent warnings about teachers going on school trips, it is important to place the risks in context.

In the past 10 years there have been 35 fatalities on school trips (to November 2003) but thousands of school trips (between seven and 10 million individual pupil visits) take place each year and few serious accidents happen.

In contrast, around 600 children a year are killed in road accidents. In 1998, 142 children died through poisoning.

Society is becoming obsessed with blame and compensation, and the concept of a genuine accident is disappearing. It is therefore understandable that teachers may be reluctant to go on school trips, although this is a great shame.

Risk assessments and safety procedures are vital, but young people need to develop independence and learn how to deal with challenges. School trips give them new experiences they may never have again. A visit to the park for a five-year-old is as much of an adventure as abseiling for a 10-year-old.

Safely conducted and properly supervised, school trips are an important part of education. We should applaud staff who give children these opportunities.

Jean Gemmell

General secretary, PAT

2 St James' Court, Derby

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