Joan Sallis Answers your questions
I know that many teachers are very generous with their time and I have heard that, as you say, there is an increasing resistance to supervising school trips because of stricter requirements on safety. But personally I don't think we can be too careful when students are away from home and largely dependent for their safety on the staff who accompany them. Several things have contributed to greater caution. One is a few well-publicised incidents which have led schools and parents to be more fearful. Another is the current emphasis on risk assessments for activities ranging from share dealing to school trips. Perhaps a third is concern about the increasing popularity of the activity centres you refer to, where parents need to be assured of staff qualifications for dangerous pursuits. In my early days as a governor, I remember a source of concern being the possibility that not all staff in a centre had the specific qualifications for the wide range of activities offered. As for the behaviour of staff on trips, I think governors and parents are right to expect high standards when their young people are away from home. It is not just a matter of the example set, but concern lest at any time, to take a particular example, there might be insufficient staff in a position to drive in an emergency. I dare say we have become over-sensitised by a few sad happenings, but it is better to err on the side of caution. I hope and believe there will always be teachers keen to take part.
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