Educational Visits Policy

IES Breckland is a school for the future, a school for the community, where children are treated as individuals and high standards are expected from all. IES Breckland provides a secure environment for teaching and learning, where teachers can teach and students can learn. This policy and any associated procedures are based on this vision and set of values.

Introduction

This policy takes full account of the regulations and guidance contained in the School’s document “Educational Visits: Regulations and Guidance 2003’ and also the advice and guidance contained in the DFES booklet “Health and Safety of students on Educational Visits (A good practice guide)’, and the advice document ‘Off-Site Educational Visits’ published by the National Association of Head Teachers.

The term ‘Educational Visit’ is used to include all off site activities organised by the school, of whatever duration.  They include:

  • adventurous activities using licensed providers;
  • adventurous activities not involving a licensed provider;
  • residential activities during school time;
  • residential activities in holiday or weekend periods;
  • overseas residential visits;
  • exchange visits;
  • day visits to the Continent;
  • day or part-day visits using transport;
  • day or part-day visits on foot;
  • after school sporting activities;
  • swimming pool visits;
  • farm visits;
  • field studies.

Visits are classified as either Type 1 or Type 2.

Type 1 Visits

    R:                 Regular, routine off-site activities (e.g. the use of off site facilities for PE);
    S:                  Specific, one-off or occasional visits, (e.g. museum visits, field study visits).

Type 2 Visits

    A:                 Visits including an overnight stay;
    B:                 Visits including adventurous activities* supervised by a School employee or volunteer (e.g. a teacher or youth worker);
    C:                 Visits including adventurous activities* supervised by an external provider (e.g. a commercial centre or hired instructor);
    D:                 Visits abroad;
    E:                  Visits in any of the categories A-D for which the organiser wishes to arrange insurance other than through the School’s visits and journeys insurance policy;
    F:                  Visits where any site owners or activity providers require to be indemnified against claims arising from the visit.

For all school visits all school policies apply, but it is essential that the organiser has a copy of the Critical Incident Procedure policy with them on the trip.

APPROVAL PROCESS

All off-site activities should firstly have the approval of the Principal, who should be satisfied with the purpose, planning and staffing for the proposed off site activity.  See APPLICATION TO THE PRINCIPAL AND GOVERNORS FOR APPROVAL TO PLAN AN EDUCTIONAL VISIT in the Appendices.

Approval by the full Governing Body must be obtained the term before the visit takes place.  For Residential visits in the summer the approval must be obtained in the Summer Term of the previous year.

ORGANISING THE VISIT

The Visit Leader, who must be appropriately experienced, should draw up the programme for the visit and the number of staff required and liaise with the office staff.

A reconnaissance visit is essential to familiarise staff with the site, check its appropriateness, any unforeseen hazards and the availability of services, hospitals, toilets, etc.

If the visit is in the Type 2 category the School Form “NOTIFICATION OF EDUCATIONAL VISITS” (from the School Educational Visits folder) should be completed and sent to the Sabres Trust.  Permission from the Trust must be obtained at least four school weeks in term time before authorisation is required.  No Type 2 visit may proceed nor should any bookings be confirmed or deposits paid until the Trust has authorised the visit.

For certain categories of visit only, notification must also be made at the same time to the Trust, the Trust’s Insurance Manager or the Trust’s Solicitor.  Form “NOTIFICATION OF EDUCATIONAL VISITS” should be copied to those individuals where the relevant sections apply.  Refer to the School’s folder.

Most Type 2 category visits at IES Breckland are planned months ahead.  Letters to parents should be sent out giving full details of the visit – dates, venue, methods of payment e.g. monthly installments.  Only when the actual number of students is known should deposits be paid and arrangements confirmed.  The School’s form “PARENTAL CONSENT” Form should be sent out with the letter acknowledging receipt of the deposit. Parental consent must be obtained from the parent or guardian of each student taking part in any Type 2 visit.

For Type 1 visits in Category S (specific, one off or occasional visits) the School will request that a consent letter is completed.  At IES Breckland this is a school requirement.  In the case of regular, routine off-site activities (Type 1, Category R) identified as such in the school prospectus (e.g. Year 7 Swimming), the student’s attendance at school may be taken to imply parental consent.

For all visits (Type 1 or 2) students must be insured.  The School Guidance document gives details of the insurance policies maintained by the Trust which protect those involved in school visits in Appendix 3:  Insurance for Educational Visits.  For Type 2 visits Form “NOTIFICATION OF EDUCATIONAL VISITS”, relevant sections should be completed by the organising teacher and authorised by the Principal. If the visit involves adventurous activities the relevant section should be completed.  Refer to “AUTHORISATION OF EDUCATION VISITS in the School folder.

For all visits it is essential that students, staff and helpers are briefed beforehand as to the standard of behaviour expected, the member of staff/parent helper who is responsible for them and arrangements for lunchtimes and toilets.  For Type 2 visits students will require clear guidelines for their conduct in the hotel or hostel in which they are staying.

The Visit Leader should request for a bus quotation.  For all Type 1 or 2 visits involving coach travel it is a legal requirement that students have a seat and that a seat belt is worn.

For Type 2 visits it is essential that a parents’ meeting prior to the visit is held at which they can be informed of the itinerary, arrangements and expectations of the conduct of the students.  Parents should be aware of the range of sanctions available to staff should a child seriously misbehave.  Parents should also inform staff of any special dietary requirements or alternative arrangements should they be away from home during the visit.

Some students have behavioural difficulties which may prejudice the safety of themselves and others on a school visit.  The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 applies to educational visits.  A full risk assessment should be carried out and the decision not to include a student with behavioural problems related to their disability must directly relate to the risk assessment.  The Principal may decide that students will not be permitted to participate in school visits where a risk assessment indicates that their behaviour is such that they present a danger to themselves or to others.

RISK ASSESSMENT

Risk assessment is about identifying and controlling risks that are significant. The significance of a risk is determined by two factors: the likelihood that an accident or incident will occur, and the severity of the injury or harm to the individual if it does occur.

The key to risk assessment is to identify the significant risks, if any, which exist, and take measures to control these.

For all visits a Risk Assessment should be completed and copies given to the Principal and the School Visits Co-ordinator.

The five steps are:

  • look for the hazards;
  • decide who might be harmed and how;
  • evaluate the risks and decide whether the existing precautions are adequate or whether more should be done;
  • record your findings;
  • review your assessment and revise it if necessary.

Risk Assessment for educational visits can be usefully considered as having three levels.

  • generic activity risk assessments which are likely to apply to the activity wherever and whenever it takes place
  • visit/site specific risk assessments which will differ from place to place and group to group
  • ongoing risk assessments that take account of, for example, illness of staff or students, changes of weather, availability of preferred activity.

It is this latter category – ongoing risk assessment – that is crucial if new dangers emerge during the visit.  Changing circumstances can radically alter the safety of an activity, and staff should always err on the side of caution.

Any concerns about risks should be raised with the Principal in person as soon as they are recognised.  When undertaking risk assessment, a number of variables need to be taken into account:

  • the number of students involved;
  • the age of the students, their sex, ability and general behaviour;
  • the previous experience of the group in undertaking off-site visits;
  • the time of the day and the time of the year;
  • the travel arrangements;
  • the hazards of the environment being visited;
  • the numbers, experience and quality of accompanying staff and volunteers;
  • the nature of the activity.

Remember The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 applies to educational visits.  A full risk assessment must be carried out and the decision not to include students with behavioural problems related to their disability must be directly related to the risk assessment.  The off-site trip context is not seen as any different in principle to the on-site school context, where challenging behaviour and disabilities continue to be managed.  A risk assessment must be made to ascertain the appropriate management strategies and reasonable and effective adjustments made.  Where a risk assessment indicates that the behaviour of a student is such that they present a danger to themselves or to others then the matter must be discussed with the Principal.

SUPERVISION

Factors which should be considered when deciding on appropriate levels of supervision:

  • the sex, age and ability of the group;
  • the special education and medical needs of the students;
  • the type of activity being undertaken;
  • the experience and competence of all the adults accompanying the activity;
  • duration of the activity;
  • the type of accommodation when it is a residential activity;
  • competence and behaviour of the students;
  • first-aid cover available.

Summary of Supervision Required

VOLUNTARY HELP

It is important that all parents and volunteers who will have regular contact with students on school premises or on school activities outside should have undergone a check by the Criminal Records Bureau.

School policy on Criminal Record Bureau checks must be followed in respect of adult helpers.

The Visit Leader will need to pass on the names of the volunteers to the Principal so that a check can be initiated in accordance with School policy.

There is always a delay in processing these applications so the checks must be initiated as soon as possible, or volunteers who already have an “Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate” must be used.

The Principal will always make the final decision as to which volunteers accompany a visit.

Every volunteer accompanying the visit should know precisely what their role is and understand that they have a responsibility to ensure they carry out their role.

The Visit Leader should also check that all residential staff have undergone CRB checks.

COSTING AND CHARGING FOR SCHOOL VISITS

Refer also to the School’s Charging and Remissions Policy.

All financial arrangements must be consistent with the School’s policy on charging.

Steps should be taken at an early stage to secure an initial deposit from party members and to allow for regular payment by installments by agreed dates.  Receipts and payments must be fully documented and the account details must be available for scrutiny by the Principal or LEA representative at all times.

When initially estimating the overall cost of a journey, it is best to include all expenses (including e.g. pocket money) and to give a realistic global figure to parents.  A refund in the case of over-estimate is always more acceptable than a supplementary charge.

The best exchange rates for foreign currency are usually obtained in this country.  Where the visit will involve a need to pay large bills abroad, this is best done by Bankers’ Draft.  Payments should be made into properly designated accounts for agreed services.  It is good practice for Party Leaders to have a contingency fund from which they could meet unexpected minor costs.

INSURANCE

The School Guidance document gives details of the insurance policies maintained by the School which protect those involved in school visits.  Visit Leaders should consult with the appropriate member of the Office Staff to ensure that there is appropriate insurance cover.

Within European Community countries reciprocal health insurance arrangements apply.  It is important that parents obtain a European Health Insurance Card E111 in respect of their children from their local post office in good time before the journey begins.  Group leaders should collect E111 Health Insurance Cards in respect of all members of the group so that they are readily available if required in the foreign country.

NB   It is advisable to take photocopies of E111 Health Insurance Cards (together with the originals) when travelling to an EU country.  The original should always be retained by the Party Leader and a copy be given to authorities abroad if necessary.

Great emphasis should be placed on traffic risks abroad, particularly when crossing roads.  Work should be done on this before the visit, with reminders when in the foreign country (e.g. mandatory use of recognised crossings).  Younger children should not be allowed to cross roads unsupervised in the early stages of the stay.

Support from the British Consul

The Visit Leader should, before the visit commences, obtain from the Foreign Office in London the address and telephone number of the British Consul and thus be assured of help from an English speaking person with knowledge of local services and regulations and access to emergency funds.  In the event of death or serious injury to any member of the party, the British Consul should be contacted immediately.  He/she will inform the Foreign Office which has a 24 hour open line service.

FIRST AID AND MEDICINES

First Aid

The Visit Leader must ensure that adequate first aid arrangements are made bearing in mind the location and nature of the activity.  All participants must have access to first aid equipment and a nominated person with first aid knowledge throughout the visit.

Medicines and Medication

A member of staff will be named as responsible for the supervision of self-administration of medicines or more rarely for the administration of medicine.  In general, medicines should be clearly labelled with the child’s name and dosage and handed to the named member of staff. (The administration and storage will be in accordance with the school policy for supporting students with medical needs.)  For certain conditions however, this procedure may be wholly inappropriate and potentially harmful, e.g. asthma where it would be wrong to separate an asthma sufferer from a prescribed inhaler.  Similar consideration and care might need to be exercised for the sufferer of diabetes.  In such circumstances it would be advisable to consult with the child’s parent(s)/carer and, if necessary, seek medical advice.  (For further information please refer to the School’s ‘Administering Medicine’ policy.)

First Aid Boxes

It is essential to carry adequate First Aid kits for the group.  The relevant number should be noted on the Risk Assessment Form, completed prior to the trip.

First Aid boxes should contain a sufficient quantity of suitable first aid materials and nothing else – antiseptic creams and liquids are not suitable.  The contents should be checked regularly by the First Aider or appointed person, and replenished when necessary.  Sufficient quantities of each item should be in every first aid box.  The following is a minimum contents for a travelling first-aid box where no special risk has been identified:

  • a leaflet giving general advice on first aid;
  • six individually wrapped sterile adhesive dressings;
  • one large sterile unmedicated wound dressing approximately 18 cm by 18 cm;
  • two triangular bandages;
  • two safety pins;
  • individually wrapped moist cleansing wipes;
  • one pair of disposable plastic gloves;
  • a resuscitate (for hygienic mouth to mouth resuscitation) would also be useful.

The following items may also be added.

  • Paracetamol (Parental consent is required.  Refer to the school’s policy on ‘Administering Medicine’.);
  • crepe bandages;
  • plastic bags and ties for disposal of soiled items;
  • blunt ended scissors;
  • individually wrapped waterproof elastoplast-type dressings;

On a visit, the Party Leader would be discharging a duty of care and acting in loco parentis if he/she administered the type of help and care that a parent would give to his/her own child.  The principal should be to hand the patient over to more expert medical aid (be that rescue services, a doctor, etc.) in as good a condition as possible.

AFTER THE VISIT

A report on the visit should be made to the Principal.

The party should be debriefed and any follow-up completed.

Risk assessments should be updated with “near misses”

Any appropriate letters of thanks should be sent.

The Visit Leader should liaise with the School office staff in order that all accounts are checked, finalised and closed.