Training is the route to safety

Safety on educational trips is a subject that needs to be kept alive and discussed. It is especially good to read letters from teachers like Jenny Cooper who, despite such a terrible experience, strive to make improvements for the future (TES, November 26).

The Outdoor Education Advisers' Panel stands by the statement that, statistically, children are safer when they are on an out-of-school visit than they are at home. It also stands by the statement that a couple of accidents were caused by teachers defying common sense. This does not imply that 35 deaths over 10 years are unimportant - five of these have occurred in my own education authority. This has left me with a passion, like Jenny's, to make time to chair the panel, which actively engages in making things safer and higher quality.

It is made up of nominated representatives of chief education officers, currently representing more than 100 LEAs. In the past three years it has:

* worked with the Department for Education and Skills to produce three supplementary guidance documents;

* designed a standardised educational visits co-ordinators' training course;

* ensured that trained EVCs are in all our member LEAs;

* produced a good practice guide to planning overseas expeditions;

* worked with school tour operators to improve safe practice.

In supporting the suggestions from Jenny I would add - don't work in isolation, you should:

* ensure your school has a trained EVC;

* ensure that you know your LEA officer with responsibility for educational visits;

* work together to influence change.

We don't need more rules, we need better training.

Ian Park

PE adviser, Buckinghamshire Chairman, Outdoor Education Advisers' Panel

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