Gill Harvey, CEO of The School Travel Forum (STF), the awarding body of the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge, offers the following advice on risk assessments.
The many educational benefits Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) experiences bring to children have to be supported by a vigilant focus on health and safety standards. STF members organise over 20,000 school trips each year and statistically the school trip environment is one of the safest for children to be in. Unfortunately, however, concerns around how to risk assess a trip means that some schools avoid offering these unforgettable and life enhancing opportunities to their pupils.
What is a Risk Assessment?
The concept is quite simple:
1. Somebody identifying a hazard
2. Recognising somebody is at risk from the hazard
3. Putting some judgement on the potential likelihood and severity of the harm that might
4. Then critically putting in place the necessary control measures to rectify the problem
What is expected of a Risk Assessment?
The risks to consider are those associated with your own group management. STF members are still regularly asked for risk assessments for the services they are providing, but this is not necessary. One of the major advantages of using a STF and LOtC QB accredited providers is that you can be assured that all the checks for health and safety, financial protection and good quality learning objectives have been carried out.
Essentially, leaders need to be duly diligent in preparing a management plan for their visit, but
they do not have to demonstrate superhuman powers of pre-cognition. They simply have to
deal with what is reasonably foreseeable and respond within a reasonable range of measures.
A risk assessment for an off-site activity need not be complex. It could be thought of as the
recorded minutes of a staff meeting, where the challenges (significant risks) that are reasonably foreseeable in a particular activity are discussed, and the actions (control measures) identified to address those challenges are recorded.
There is no expectation for insignificant risks to be included in a written risk assessment; professional judgement, particularly when backed by experience, is sufficient to deal with such
situations within schools and it is no different when off-site.
School Travel Forum profile
Founded in 2003, the School Travel Forum is a democratic, not for profit organisation of leading school tour operators that promotes good practice and safety in school travel. For guidance on all aspects of school trip safety and quality, visit www.schooltravelforum.com