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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 February, 2005, 00:21 GMT
MPs urge 30m school trip boost
Students reading a map on an orienteering course
There is "unexploited potential" for school trips, MPs say
School trip provision is "extremely patchy" and ministers should allocate 30m to support them, MPs say.

The Commons education select committee is calling for a "champion" to promote outdoor activities in England.

It has asked the NASUWT teachers' union to revoke its advice to members not to run trips because of the risks of legal action if a child is injured.

Rules must change so staff no longer "feel vulnerable", the committee's report adds.

'False perception'

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) should create a "Manifesto for Outdoor Learning", giving all pupils the right to trips outside school, the MPs say.

This, they add, would need about 30m, the current level of funding for the Music Manifesto.

Teachers were "deterred by the false perception that a high degree of risk attaches to outdoor education as well as by cumbersome bureaucracy and issues of funding, time and resources".

Accidents are still very rare
Barry Sheerman,
Education select committee

In England in 2003, there were between 7 million and 10 million pupil visits but only one death, the report notes.

The education committee's chairman, Barry Sheerman, said: "We have to get away from the culture of fear that has grown around school trips and introduce some element of common sense.

"Accidents are still very rare and the government must work to remove the fear of litigation, which is part of the growing 'compensation culture'.

"The NASUWT union, which currently advises its members not to participate in school trips, should change its policy immediately."

The union's general secretary, Chris Keates, puts the policy down to the "rise of the blame culture".

She said: "I am disappointed that the select committee asserts that our concerns are a perception rather than a reality.

"A golden opportunity has been missed to act in the interests of teachers and pupils by accepting the need for additional safeguards and supporting their early introduction."

Danish example

The select committee praised efforts in some other countries to provide outdoor learning.

In Denmark, schools based in forests "used the natural environment to stimulate pupils" and "experience a carefully monitored element of risk".

There was, by contrast, "considerable unexploited potential" in England.

A DfES spokesman said: "We are currently looking at ways in which we can further enrich the curriculum by supporting teachers and schools to deliver high-quality, safe out-of-school activities."


SEE ALSO:
Schools 'shying away from trips'
28 Sep 04 |  Education
Safety training for school trips
27 Sep 04 |  Education
Moves to protect school trip staff
14 Apr 04 |  Education


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