School trips can be a wonderful experience for children, but unfortunately there are so many hazards associated with them that some teachers have pulled out completely. Law firms tout openly for accident business, urging the public to make a claim. I have been all over Europe, escorting hundreds of children on trips, but I would hesitate to take them up mountains nowadays.
My advice is to start with a policy of inclusion and exclude only if this has manifestly failed.
Why do certain children misbehave? Is it usually the same ones? Are they bored, uncommitted to the purpose of the trip, not sure why it is taking place? Do they have anything to do when they arrive, or is it that the trip is just a deadly box-ticking exercise?
See if you can involve some of the more troublesome in planning the event.
They might thus feel a greater sense of ownership. You could, for example, include some of the miscreants in a small group of children you take to the museum, or wherever, ahead of time, so you and they can case the joint and see what might best be done when the whole class goes.
Talk to children individually, not just to tell them off, but to help them see the effects of what they do. One teacher invited in the bus driver to explain that he got into trouble when his bus was a mess and had to stay late to clean it. The pupils became models of tidiness.
Should some still be resistant, you might need to involve their parents.
After all, it should not be left entirely to the school to control off-site behaviour, and a mother or father might even be persuaded to accompany your class on the trip, making it a family event. You should leave children behind only as a last resort. But if every other approach has failed you may have to do this, with regret, for the safety and wellbeing of the majority.
You can refuse
When things go tragically wrong on school trips, the teacher in charge can face severe legal and civil actions. For this reason alone, he or she should ensure that the school party excludes pupils who are likely to present a danger to other pupils, themselves or the public. This should be explained to the headteacher in a professional manner. If the head insists the troublemakers join the party, politely refuse to accompany them.
Lily Williams, Lancashire
Get professional advice
Refusing to include these children will only encourage anti-school feelings. Have you discussed their behaviour with them and their carers? It may be that they are not fully aware of your expectations or in control of their actions. Set them clear targets for this trip and make sure everyone realises it could be their last chance.
Ensure you have enough helpers on the trip and place the children concerned in separate groups. Ask if a member of one of the children's families, or a member of staff they can relate to, can specifically supervise and provide them with positive feedback. Also have a back-up plan in case of problems - remove the children from the situation temporarily if possible.
This will be hard work, but a positive experience for these children could make all the difference to their behaviour inside and outside school. If it doesn't work, you will need to explain any future ban to the children and their carers before another trip is announced. Talk to your special needs co-ordinator or a behaviour adviser.
Tina Russell-Cruise, Macclesfield
Ask the parent along
School trips are not a privilege, they are a right for the child. Unless the outing is an extracurricular activity, all children, badly behaved or well behaved, should be allowed to take part. School outings enhance curriculum work and are a benefit to all.
I suggest you try to encourage parents of the children with behaviour issues to act as helpers on school trips because I have found, from personal experience, that children are better behaved when a parent is close by.
If the child's behaviour continues to be disruptive, try speaking to the headteacher about banning him or her from the next outing. But make sure the child does not miss out on any information because no child deserves to be failed.
Sophie E Ward, Nuneaton
Don't risk your career
Be firm. Refuse to take any child whom you consider to be a behavioural or safety risk. You're the one who has organised the trip and it would be you who would face a very difficult situation if anything unfortunate happened during it and an inquiry was initiated.
I have been taking children away for more than 18 years and consider residential visits especially to be of tremendous educational and social value. On occasions, I have taken pupils who may have posed a challenge.
Sometimes they have been very well behaved and been no problem, but others have let me down. Those days are now gone, however. You cannot take the risk any more - it is not worth losing your career for.
Kieran Miles, Doncaster