Litigious culture puts us off trips

18th August 2006 at 01:00
It is not surprising that Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington college, does not live in the real world of school visits ("Tragedies deflect us from our core aims", TES, August 4). I wonder when he last took a party of state school students on a trip abroad?

Most teachers I meet in real schools have taken the hard decision not to take students out because the risks to their own livelihoods are too great.

We live in a society of ambulance-chasing lawyers and parents who are so aware of their "rights" that even a bit of sunburn is the fault of the teacher.

A colleague of mine recently attended an assessment for minibus driving with Norfolk county council. The paperwork was like a piece of GCSE coursework. It was lifted from the Department for Education and Skills website and pointed out with pathetic repetition the responsibilities of the driver. The teacher is expected to check oil levels, fluid levels, tyres, wheel nuts, seat belt mountings.

Finally heshe has to sign a form accepting total reponsibility for the safety of the vehicle and passengers.

My colleague refused to take the minibus test: why increase stress by doing stuff that doesn't attract extra pay?

His headteacher accused him of making the children suffer because trips couldn't take place. He stood his ground and pointed out that he would be the one to get the blame if there was an accident caused by a dangerous driver in a 10-ton truck.

I don't think Anthony Seldon has a clue about the life of teachers in the bog standard comprehensive. Try the NCC minibus test, Mr Seldon!

Anthony Callaghan

11 Priory Close

Alpington

Norwich

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