Day trips to London are to be included in a higher risk category when Lancashire schools are planning educational activities away from their own premises.
Visits to multiple venues in other cities have also moved into the so-called “type B” category, which means that they will now require prior approval from Lancashire County Council.
Previously, such trips had been classified as “type A” activities – like field trips and visits to museums and theatres – which could be authorised by senior leaders within an individual school. Now, they will be categorised alongside “adventure” outings like kayaking, climbing and motorsports.
All overnight stays at any location also need the council to give the go ahead.
Parental consent is required for each individual type B visit, whereas type A trips require only general consent at the start of the year – although parents must still be informed of any trip away from the school.
The changes are part of an update to County Hall’s guidance to schools about off-site educational visits. Its last major revision was in 2016.
The new policy applies to all county council-controlled schools and any others which are covered by its insurance arrangements.
There was a 10 percent increase in the number of school trips involving Lancashire schools last year – with 700,000 children taking part in 36,000 individual visits. More than 5,500 trips were classed as what was then type B activities, 3,500 of which fell into the “adventure” category. There were also 277 overseas visits.
“This shows the increasing value which is placed on giving young people the broadest educational experience,” County Cllr Phillippa Williamson, member for schools, told a meeting of the authority’s cabinet.
“It also reinforces the need to regularly review and update our policies to ensure that when children are involved in these visits, they are kept safe and well.”
The new guidelines state that the risk assessment process for all trips should be “proportionate [and] not be unduly onerous, but supportive and helpful” for those leading the visit.
Advice for emergency situations includes the need to nominate a base contact back at the school who can take any necessary action in the event of an unforeseen incident.
Cabinet members heard that young people are now taught of the need to be “risk aware”, while the new guidelines stress that it is the duty of all accompanying adults on a trip to intervene where they witness “unsafe practice” or fear that it is about to occur.
Schools will also have to undertake an assessment of every trip after it is over to learn lessons from any “close calls”. Failure to do so could invalidate their insurance.
HOW MUCH SUPERVISION?
Schools are advised that supervision levels should be set as part of the risk assessment process on a case-by-case basis.
However, the general guidance is:
Pre-school/reception – staffing arrangements must meet the needs of all children and ensure their safety.
Years 1 -3 – one adult for every six children
Years 4 to 6: one adult for every ten children.
Years 7 and above: one adult for the first 10 children and then one additional adult for every 20 students, or part thereof.
Post-16 years of age – the risk assessment process should decide the ratios, taking into account the activity to be undertaken and the age and maturity of the students.
The county council guidelines also state that any adult who has a child of their own on the trip should be discounted from the calculation of the adult/child ratio. It also warns of the possible knock-on consequences on supervision levels if any of the accompanying adults are related or in a relationship, should one of them be involved in an incident or accident.