The government has today launched an initiative to encourage more schools to run and organised school trips. This is in response to falling numbers of trips due to school and teachers fearing being sued in the event of an accident.
What the government does not realise, however, is the ludicrous situation the law puts schools in and why it is hard for some schools to contemplate running trips.
Firstly, if the trip is part of the curriculum, schools are expected to only ask for a voluntary contribution from parents. This means that if nobody wanted to pay for their child's trip, the school will be lumbered with the full cost. This is ridiculous. It is intened to help those pupils from poorer backgrounds, but in my experience at previous schools this has usually been exploited by some very comfortably off parents who take the p*ss by simply refusing to pay.
Then there is the "what if there is an accident" problem. Take a friend of mine, working in a school (not mine, I should clearly state and not locally). An accident took place on a trip, the teacher had warned the children about the risks of a particular thing, it had been written up in the risk assessment and the teacher was shown, by the Education Authority to have done everything 100% correctly. So what happened when the child ran in to a coned off area, fell, got a broken arm ? The parents sued and the education authority paid up. On what basis did they pay ? The solicitors advised "That you cannot expect a child to follow instructions"
This is a ridiculous state of affairs. A teacher can follow every precaution, dot every "i" and cross every "t", but beacuse the legal advice is that a child cannot be expected to follow safety rules, the school is at fault.
The school I teach at isn't scared to run trips, and they do benefit the children enormously, but I can fully understand why some school are very reluctant to run trips.