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Monday, 17 September, 2001, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
New guidance for school trips
Skiers in the Alps
A new handbook of advice is planned
The government is consulting outdoor adventure experts and teachers' organisations in England on proposed revised guidelines for school trips.

The move follows the drownings of 11-year-old Bunmi Shagaya in a lake in northern France and of college student Yunus Ismail Moolla in a quarry in Worcestershire.

Another 17 year old, Amy Ransom, fell to her death on a mountain trek in Vietnam.

But one of the biggest teachers' unions says the new guidance was unlikely to change its advice that teachers should not take pupils on trips.

The Young People's Minister, Ivan Lewis, speaking at the Brathay Youth Conference in Ambleside, Cumbria, said the tragic deaths this summer of pupils on school trips had shocked and saddened everyone.

'Learning lessons'

Many dedicated teachers and youth workers took thousands of youngsters on trips every year - it was an important of their education and should continue.

But he added: "We must always be willing to learn lessons when things go wrong and review existing policy.

"However there is a danger that we act precipitately. I don't want to do that.

"We already have strong measures in place but of course I want to listen carefully to those most closely involved," he said.

  • Ministers plan a new handbook for group leaders on the practicalities of supervising visits

  • they want to agree standard good practice with local authorities and clarify the legal powers and duties of authorities and schools

  • and they aim to produce a common set of standards for those who lead adventure activities outside the Adventure Activities Licensing Scheme.

"This package of work will be focused on schools, but will also be relevant to those working in the statutory and voluntary youth sectors," Mr Lewis said.

"We will be involving and consulting outdoor adventure experts, school staff associations, the Health and Safety Executive and other organisations and experts on the preparation of this material during the course of the autumn term."

Parental attitudes

But the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers said the proposed handbook "would be most unlikely to change" its advice to its members.

"This is that members should no longer go on school trips, especially abroad.

"There is no shortage of guidelines and regulations at the moment," said the general secretary, Nigel de Gruchy.

"The problem is that parents no longer accept that genuine accidents can occur when other people are in charge of their children.

"If any accident occurs teachers will always be at great risk of disciplinary and legal action, since the regulations and guidance are now so comprehensive and detailed that it is virtually impossible for any normal human being to follow them all the time."

The new handbook might even add to the organisational burden and become another factor in deterring teachers from participating in such activities.

See also:

11 Jul 01 | Education
Governors defy suspensions call
06 Jul 01 | Mike Baker
Second thoughts about school outings
04 Jul 01 | Education
Teachers' tight guidelines for trips
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