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November 9, 2009

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Condensed school-trips guidance aims to cut paperwork

The Government is consulting on new guidance designed to reduce red tape surrounding school trips.

Schools minister Diana Johnson has launched the consultation on simple guidance to cut bureaucracy and make it easier for teachers and others to take young people out and about on educational visits.

The ‘Health and safety of learners outside the classroom’ (HASLOC) guidance builds on the Quality Badge scheme for providers, launched earlier this year, which cuts the paperwork that schools and others will need before planning visits to organisations and venues approved under the scheme.

Feedback from schools and local authorities has been taken on board to make the guidance much shorter, condensing four documents published in 1998 and 2002 into one, while sample checklist forms are also provided to help save further time.

Aiming to help teachers and other staff keep children safe by clearly outlining their duties, the guidance also emphasises that the law protects teachers in the rare event of someone being hurt on a school trip.

Launching the guidance, Diana Johnson said: “Most people remember their school trips as fun and valuable experiences. They are an important part of a child’s education and personal development, and I want to see schools, and youth groups, taking advantage of opportunities that learning outside the classroom can provide.

“We hope that this guidance will make life easier for teachers and break down some of the myths around being sued. The support and help will hopefully give them the confidence to organise school trips for the benefit and enjoyment of their pupils.”

HSE chair Judith Hackitt added: “We have heard a lot about how ‘elf n safety’ stops some teachers from organising trips, but it shouldn’t be the case. Lots of schools do continue to organise adventurous activities out of the classroom with no problem.”

She continued: “Life is full of risks that cannot be eliminated. School trips and activities are the ideal way for children to learn about risk and how to deal with it, while also having fun. It’s time we threw away the cotton wool.”

The HASLOC guidance consultation, which will run for 12 weeks, is available here on the Department for Children, Schools and Families website.

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