UK government reducing the amount of health and safety red tape for school trips
Health and safety concerns for school trips has always been an issue for parents and teachers, however over the last few years the legislation that has been brought in has made it very difficult for teachers to be able to take children on school trips in the UK through fear of prosecution in the event of an accident or injury.
Legislation vs. Common Sense
School trips require a lot of paper work from teachers to make sure they are legally covered and this can mean teachers having to visit the site beforehand, take pictures, weigh up risks, write a detailed report on the safety issues, complete a fire risk assessments report and then send out letters correctly worded to parents. All this is before they have started the actual planning of the trip such as timetable, educational criteria and coach times etc.
A recent development on this issue has been the Department for Education informing local authorities and schools all across the country to disregard what they call ‘unnecessary paperwork’ to encourage more school trips. Furthermore they have also reduced their 150 pages of detailed guidelines to just 8 pages with the hope of untying teachers and schools hands when it comes to trips and excursions. The Education Secretary Mr Grove has called this a ‘more common sense approach to health and safety in schools’.
As with any change in legislation there are always opposing views and teaching unions have said that many of the rules were in place for very good reason and should not be disregarded. Their worry is that with less guidance, the number of accidents will increase and parents will lose faith in allowing their children on future trips. Others feel that some teachers and schools have used the legislation to hide behind so that they do not have to put the extra effort in to take classes on trips.
The red tape of school trips is officially being cut and there are those teachers and schools who have hidden behind it as an excuse to not participate in the more challenging area of teaching such as school trips.
Over the last few years the guidelines have become more and more bureaucratic due to the fear of legal complications and ultimately the only ones to suffer are the young people’s education and experiences. Teachers are intelligent people on the whole and they can use their own common sense to successfully take their class on an outing. Moreover parents need to accept that their children need to learn to live in the world and part of doing so is the risk of an accident.
This reduction in legislation in our opinion is a very good thing for all parties which include parents, children and teachers as it will allow for a more fun and interesting educational experience for young people all over the UK.
Author: Jon is currently working alongside Veritas Safety Consultants who specialise in fire risk assessments, workplace safety and health and safety regulations for businesses all over the UK.