Letters extra: In defence of school trips

24th October 2003 at 01:00

I read with great interest the 'Last Word' column written by Libby Purves (TES 3 October 2003). It is a shame that some of her views would appear not to be shared by other journalists writing for sections of the popular press.

Members at PAT's Annual Conference in Cardiff in 2001 debated whether or not to advise members not to go on school trips. Thankfully we voted in favour of continuing to take children on such valuable, educational activities.

Nevertheless, we did express - and endorse - some of the concerns that members have.

I agree that one conviction for negligence should only confirm that the vast majority of trips are well organised, with due authority and vigilance being exercised fully in line with the official guidance provided.

But, following the guidance to the letter will not always, as David Hart is quoted as saying, prevent a teacher "being accused of negligence". The worst accuser, as Libby Purves hints at, may well be the teacher themselves.

After any incident, you question yourself, your actions and your planning repeatedly - and even when you feel there was nothing you did that you would change, you still 'put yourself through it' time and time again. Even "the best laid plans...".

So thank you Libby Purves for so strongly expressing support, not only for the teaching profession, but also for the commitment and professionalism shown by those who organise extra-curricula activities.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

Jim O'Neill
National Chairman
Professional Association of Teachers

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