Proud of our safety record

10th August 2001 at 01:00
It is understandable that articles (about school trip accidents) appear and challenge schools and local eduucation authorities over their practices and procedures (How can we stop these tragedies?, TES, July 13) As an LEA, Hampshire welcomes that process.

You quote the Elizabeth Bee (drowning) incident in Portsmouth harbour, which was a serious and unfortunate incident. But the phrase "Hampshire teacher" in the article gives a misleading interpretation to our parents, governors and teachers. Paul Dove, the teacher concerned, is not a Hampshire County Council teacher, but employed by an independent school, Boundary Oak.

The report and inquest brought out this relationship clearly, as they argued that the LEA guidance, if taken, could have prevented the incident. The system of approval and guidance for Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton schools was praised by the investigating bodies and the coroner.

As your article says, most trips are successful. In our area, 72,000 young people went on residential or adventurous activities last year without any serious incident. We are, however, not complacent and make every effort to keep up to date with current good practice.

For your information, the Department for Education and Skills pupil health and safety team are at the forefront of guidance, licensing and investigating such matters. They will normally be well informed on such incidents.

Steve Poynton County Inspector: Outdoor Education Education Department Hampshire County Council County Office, The Castle Winchester Hampshire

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