Schoolzone: Planning a school trip

Planning a school trip

Initial planning

Have you read and understood the school's and the LEA's policy on school trip procedure?
Cover yourself by following the procedures laid down by the Governors and the LA for the organisation of school trips.Check that your school insurance covers everything - including you, in the event of a student accident.

Are you aware of your legal and moral responsibility as party leader?
Make sure you know what your obligations are when in loco parentis. Remember that you are responsible for students during the school day, even if an external organisation (such as the local swimmimg pool) is running the sessions.

Have you visited the resort before?
If not, ask about inspection visits, or contact someone who has been to the location.

Is the company ABTA or AITO bonded?
This will provide financial protection if the company collapses.

Are there any likely Health & Safety related to activities or accommodation?
As part of your risk assessment you need to be aware of these and take appropriate action, including informing parents.

What does the cost of the trip include and exclude?
For example, ski trip prices often only cover the cost two-hour morning lessons, afternoon lessons are extra

Is the trip suitable for all students?
Take account of age, gender and special needs issues.

Which staff will be accompanying you?
Make sure there is an appropriate balance in terms of gender, experience etc. Is there someone with a first- aid certificate?

What are the insurance arrangements, and are they sufficient?
Check this out bearing in mind the activities to be undertaken.

What is the payment schedule?
Provide a savings card and keep a computerised record of payments in and out.

How many students do you need to make the trip viable?
Do not send off deposits until you have a viable number!

Are there any passport/visa implications?
In a multi-cultural school there may be students whose nationality status may affect their ability to travel abroad.

Implementing the plans: write to parents including the following information:

  • Details of staff accompanying the trip
  • Payment schedule and amounts, including a clear indication that deposits are non-returnable
  • Details of what is, and what is not, covered by the cost
  • Advice on appropriate clothing and pocket money
  • Details of the viable number needed for the trip
  • The itinerary including departure and arrival details
  • Accommodation details
  • A clear identification of possible risks
  • A clear statement concerning discipline and appropriate sanctions
  • Details of travel arrangements, including any en route accommodation.
  • Date of a parents' information evening
  • Emergency contact name and number at school and in the resort
  • A form of consent requesting special medical and diet information and permission to take appropriate emergency measures, plus home contact numbers.
  • Request for Nationality and Passport details
  • Request for E111 if travelling to a EU country

Set up a parents' information evening
This should be nearer to the time of departure

Have regular team meetings and ensure all staff are consulted about arrangements
Team work and leadership are vital ingredients to a successful trip

Regularly update your risk assessment relating to individual students' needs
Meet with relevant staff and parents if you are concerned about an individual student's needs. For example, an additional member of staff might be needed to assist with a student who is disabled or has particular behavioural difficulties.

During the trip

  • Regularly do a headcount of students, particularly when getting on and off transport.
  • Always get another member of staff to double check.
  • Ensure reasonable supervision at all times. Allocate groups of students to individual staff members; this helps rapid communication of information.
  • Ensure students understand and apply travel safety requirements, e.g. using seat belts on coaches and minibuses.
  • Create positive relationships with coach drivers, hotel managers, tour reps and, above all, teachers from other schools! You need them on your side.
  • Always keep students informed of reasons for delays or sudden changes of plan. This will keep most students quiet for a period of time!
  • On arrival at the accommodation update your risk assessment. Insist on a fire practice if one is not organised. Check exits and entries to rooms.
  • Take care when allocating students to rooms. There needs to be a balance between students' preferences and the need to ensure good order and safety.
  • Take similar care in allocating staff members.
  • Advise students take care of their belongings and offer to lock valuables in staff rooms or in the hotel safe.
  • Make sure rooms are checked for pre-existing damage and report it to the accommodation manager.
  • Arrange a meeting with students to reinforce the code of conduct, identify out of bounds areas, map out the programme for the week and agree on bedtimes.
  • This type of meeting should be a daily event.
  • Let the tour reps or hotel managers know of any concerns you may have, particularly if you think they compromise student safety.
  • Do not change the planned programme, or accept enforced changes, without good reason.
  • Consider the insurance implications of any change and your liability as Party Leader.
  • Before setting off for home from abroad ensure students are aware of Customs and Excise regulations and the penalties that underpin them.
  • On the way home ensure that, in the last stages of the journey, students can contact home to give the expected time of arrival.
  • On arrival, staff must stay with students until they are collected.
  • Contact the parents if they are late.
  • If you are unsure how to deal with a problem on the trip, consult your team and don't be too proud to contact school for advice. A school should ideally provide a mobile phone so you can make contact in the event of an emergency.

As party leader, you have the ultimate responsibility in loco parentis. Be aware of this responsibility and what it means. Helpful guidance can be obtained from teacher unions, the DfE and other bodies.


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