Your news report, "Paper 'blizzard' hits trips" (TESS, January 14) raised issues of concern and support for issues underlined in the recent documents on school trips produced by the Scottish Executive. These issues are not new and are ongoing in education as to how we sensibly balance the need to consider the safety of pupils while not scaring off teachers with too much paperwork and concern over legal consequences.
Educators in Scotland should not be worried about the impact of these documents as they are closely based on four similar documents produced by the Department for Education and Skills in England from 1998 to 2002.
The DfES documents have not provided a barrier to educational visits in England or Wales. They have, however, focused all involved on the need for clear procedures and for the establishment of appropriate paperwork trails.
In addition the DfES documents also recommended the establishment in school of a responsibility post of educational visits co-ordinator (EVC), with local authorities co-ordinating all the EVCs in their region.
This has smoothed the process and allowed one member of staff to take on all the wider considerations covered in the documents.
In Scotland this post is not specified and the role is likely to fall to school deputes, who may well pass it on to principal teachers and teachers.
There is therefore a need for additional support and training.
Both the DfES and Scottish Executive documents provide clear and sensible guidance. They also stimulate the need to consider what is best practice, the finer detail of areas covered and the wide range of documents referenced in the guidance. But they do require an allocation of time.
These aspects of the polices led to the development in England of the certificate in off-site safety management by the exam board OCR, in conjunction with the British Association of Advisers and Lecturers in Physical Education.
To support staff in Scotland, the certificate is now to be offered by the Scottish Agricultural College. For further details, I can be contacted on 0131 535 4000 or by email at Simon.Nash@sac.ac.uk
Social Sciences Group Education and Training Division Scottish Agricultural College West Mains Road Edinburgh