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managing school trips

By Dave Bridges

No one can seriously doubt the value of school trips to the education and personal development of young people but they require a major amount of planning and attention to detail by those in charge, and a familiarity with the laws and regulations that govern such activities.

Failure to take account of this can lead, at best, to a disappointing experience for students, parents and teachers and, in the worst scenario, injury, death and possible court appearances.

The governing body's responsibility
The governing body, through the senior management team, needs to ensure that mechanisms are set up within the school for school trips to be planned effectively and safely.

A school policy on the organisation of school trips should be drawn up. The policy will identify roles, such as the one described below, and take account of guidelines issued by the LEA.

Step by step procedures for planning and organising trips should be explicitly and unambiguously mapped out. This should also include a plan for managing a serious crisis should the unthinkable occur.

A senior teacher should have responsibility
A senior and experienced member of staff should be given the responsibility by the senior management team for co-ordinating all residential trips. Their role would be as follows.

  • to support any teachers planning a residential trip
  • to co-ordinate a calendar of proposed trips and inform parents
  • to ensure all aspects of school policy and LEA policy was being adhered to.
  • to manage any budgets relating
  • to school journeys
  • to liaise with the SeniorManagement Team
  • to provide or organise any relevant In-Service Training

Given that a good school will want to encourage teachers to organise trips for the benefit of its pupils, this level of support needs to be in place to provide the necessary staff development for those without relevant experience.

Such staff may need advice on relevant local, national and international regulations; risk assessment processes; staffing of trips; liaison with parents; liaison with tour operator; managing budgets.

Preparing a calendar of trips in advance is helpful both to the school and to parents. The school can plan its staffing and cover requirements more effectively and identify which staff can appropriately accompany individual trips. For example, it would not be helpful for the exams co-ordinator to take part in a trip during May and June.

Parents will be able to make an informed choice about which trip they wish their children to go on, knowing that another one will not suddenly be put on the menu once they have made a choice.

Helpful advice, publications and articles on managing aspects of school trips can found from:

Department for Education and Employment
Department of Trade and Industry
Association of Teachers and Lecturers
NUT website:
NASUWT website:

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