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'ALL SCHOOLS COULD BE FORCED TO END TRIPS'

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A public sector risk management organisation has warned that we could soon see an end to traditional school trips....
A public sector risk management organisation has warned that we could soon see an end to traditional school trips.

ALARM - The National Forum for Risk Management in the Public Sector - believes that those in charge of school trips may start to fear the prospect of being blamed for accidents so much they will abandon them altogether.

The warning comes following the teaching union, NASUWT, advising its 223,000 members to stop taking children on school trips because society 'no longer accepts the concept of a genuine accident.'

In today's increasingly litigious society there is a tendency to want to blame and claim against someone for any accident, and those occurring on school trips are no exception. ALARM's view is that there should be blame if and where it is due, but equally it must be accepted that accidents do happen. If school trips do not take place, pupils - and society - lose out.

Over the past few years there have been a number of cases where either the school or an individual teacher has been directly blamed for an accident or even death occurring on a school trip, and as a result more and more schools are avoiding them.

There are obvious risks involved in school trips, particularly those of an outdoor nature, but ALARM believes that schools do not need to take the extreme measure of ending them altogether if they have proper risk management arrangements in place.

The majority of school trips are successful and accident free, but for those where risks are involved, many of them can be effectively managed before an accident happens. For those risks identified, measures can be taken to ensure they do not affect the safety of the school pupils.

ALARM council member Sharon Roots, of Newham LBC, said: 'If schools and teaching staff continue to fear the prospect of being blamed for any accidents on school trips, we will inevitably see an end to trips altogether.

'This would be a real shame as trips outside the school perimeter are a valuable learning curve for pupils.

'It helps develop their social skills, interaction with others and their confidence to undertake a variety of activities they could not do within the school building.

'Instead of encouraging schools to shy away from trips, we need to encourage them to step up their risk management arrangements so they can conduct the trips with the confidence that they are fully prepared for every eventuality.'

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