Well in advance of the proposed visit the Group Leader should draw up an outline.
This should include the educational purpose, venue, dates, duration, types of activity, relevance to the curriculum, number of pupils, cost, mode of transport, the number and expertise of staff, and details of special equipment requirements. The Visit Checklist - Form 1 could be used, it is a simple form which can enable an outline of the visit be drawn up). Approval to proceed should be sought from the Headteacher/Manager.
Provisional approval to proceed
The Group Leader should discuss the proposed visit in greater detail with the Headteacher or member of Senior Management Team with responsibility for visits. (For residential visits, approval must also be sought by the Governing Body). It should be confirmed that the required staffing levels are available before proceeding further.
The daytime ratio of pupils to teacher/adults should not exceed:
- 1:2 Nursery class pupils
- 1:4 Reception class pupils
- 1:6 Years 1-3 pupils
- 1:10 – 1:15 Years 4-6 pupils*
- 1:20 Year 7 and above*
* For visits abroad minimum staffing is 1:10
Ratios for residential visits must allow for night-time staffing rotas. For self sufficient, self led residential visits in remote settings, minimum staffing levels should not be less than 3 adults.
Also see the Safety in Outdoor Education pages for the qualifications required when leading outdoor activities.
Knowledge of the Venue (Site Visit)
It is important, wherever possible, for the group leader (or at least one of the adult members of staff) to be familiar with the venue and have visited it in the recent past, ideally as close as possible to the proposed date of the visit. If such a visit has not been made, as much information as possible, together with details of potential hazards, must be obtained. For residential activity centres Form RA1 - Risk Assessment Questionnaire may be used to assist the pre visit process.
Where self led adventurous activities are to be undertaken, a prior visit to the area/centre is essential and a Specific Risk Assessment must be undertaken.
The programme should be drafted and all activities considered; i.e. the full 24 hours of every day. Initial Risk Assessments (RA’s) can be made - see Risk Assessment and Emergency Procedures and the CYPS document Managing School Emergencies.
If any activity cannot be controlled to become “Low Risk” then it must not be included in a programme.
It may be necessary to update the RA’s at any stage of the planning and/or operation of the trip. It is important that all risk assessments are revisited and reviewed as necessary. It is essential that checks are made on the qualification and experience of centre staff. See National Governing Bodies and qualifications for the following activities:
Where applicable, the centre should hold a licence from the AALA (External link), under the ‘Activities Centre (Young Persons Safety) Act 1995’. Group Leaders should satisfy themselves that this is the case.
If using non AALA external providers it must not be assumed that a centre has the expertise to carry out activities safely.
Transport and travel companies
There is no longer a Council list of approved transport providers, however schools can contact the transport section for information. Group Leaders must satisfy themselves that any transport provider hired, is from a reputable company (see Transport and Guidance - Using a Tour Operator). It is recommended that several quotes are obtained before booking any provider. If using a minibus/ self-drive, the Group Leader must ensure planning adheres to CYPS guidance, - especially with regards to supervising passengers, which should not be the responsibility of the driver.
The Council has a block travel policy for all schools which covers all school activities automatically in the UK and Europe. 'Hazardous activities' are not insured, e.g. motor sports and aerial pursuits. Certain winter sports also have restrictions and visits to countries designated as a war zone are excluded. These should be discussed with the Insurance Section.
If any school is unsure of what constitutes a hazardous activity they should refer to either the CYPS Health & Safety Section, the Education Visits Adviser, or the Insurance Section Dept Finance & IT.
All activities must be Risk Assessed and Health & Safety Provision considered before commencement. The policy is all embracing and Schools travelling abroad need NOT take out additional travel insurance with the Travel Agent and should negotiate discount to exclude it. Cover includes medical expenses, personal belongings, money, disruption and cancellation. All schools travelling abroad should take insurance confirmation detailing emergency medical numbers with them, extras copies are available upon request from the Insurance Section Dept of Finance & IT.
All visits must have at least one approved Group Leader – who must have the necessary experience, competence and where relevant, qualifications to lead the visit and deliver activities. All staff involved in visits should have their details regarding experience, knowledge and any technical competence (relating to adventure activities) registered at school. Use of Form EVC2 should aid this process.
The Group Leader must carefully plan the staffing requirements for the visit , ensuring adequate ratios are in place, after having due regard to the pupils’ age, aptitude and experience.
The school Visits Co-ordinator or Group Leader should provide details of the visit to key personnel.
All staff must receive a full briefing prior to the visit regarding their role & responsibilities.
Final approval to proceed
The details must be presented to and discussed with the Headteacher/School Visits Co-ordinator/Manager who, before giving approval, should be satisfied that:
- The staff likely to be involved have the necessary experience, ability and where relevant, the qualifications to lead the group on specific activities.
- The necessary staff ratio will be adequate (see Staffing & Qualifications and Ratios).
- The venue and activities have been risk assessed (see Risk Assessment).
- Financial arrangements are sound (see Finance).
- Insurance cover has been confirmed (see Insurance).
- The objectives of the venture are sound.
- The arrangements for giving information to pupils and parents are clear and detailed
- If using an Outdoor Activities Centre that where appropriate, it is licensed under the Young Persons Safety Act (see Outdoor and Adventurous Activities).
- Emergency procedures have been drawn up (see Emergency Procedures).
Informing Governing Body/CYPS (EVA)
The Headteacher/Visits Co-ordinator must notify the above if the visit:
- is abroad
- extends overnight
- or involves adventurous (hazardous) activities
See Guidance - School Governing Bodies for further information. Notification for Category B and C visits should be sent to the Educational Visits Advisor (EVA).
Contact with Parents & Parental permission
Most Category A activities, and a small number Category B, may only require that parents give consent upon entry at the school, or on an annual basis as decided by the Governing Body (see Form C1 - Parental Consent). It is good practice that written notification be sent to parents nearer the time to remind them that a visit involving their child will take place.
These activities are:
- Form part of the National / School’s Curriculum
- Take place within the normal school day within the local region.
For other visits, and those involving water based activities, parents should be consulted and informed, and their written consent obtained. (Form C2 can be used if required). A letter to parents should include details of the visit, including supervision arrangements - especially if there are semi-supervised, remote supervised or unsupervised activities: in all such cases, regardless of category, written consent is essential.
For information about residential visits and visits abroad see Information for Parents.
If a major change in the programme has to be made parents must be informed.
Ensure that appropriate forms of approval have been obtained from parents/ guardians, especially those relating to parental consent for the Group Leader (or deputy) or another named adult in the group to issue prescribed medication or to allow medical treatment in an emergency.
Either Form C1 or C2 can be used to collect medical information and consent from parents for their child to be given medical treatment. Parents should also be requested to inform the Group Leader as soon as possible should a child’s health change after the form has been sent to school.
It is prudent to consult with parents over any child with specific needs, in some cases to ensure parents are properly and unambiguously informed. It would be sensible to provide written information, especially if the situation is unusual or complicated in any way.
Meetings prior to the visit
In the case of all Category C visits a meeting of parents and the group members must be arranged to explain the aims and purposes of the visit and to make them aware of their roles and responsibilities, obtain responses and answer questions. It may also be prudent to hold a meeting for some Category B visits. In accepting a place at the school for their son/daughter, parents must be notified of the pupils’ Code of Conduct (.pdf, 44kb).
Prior to a visit, staff and pupils must be briefed. Staff involved in a trip must be fully briefed in every aspect and they should share in the devising of risk assessments and other procedures. There should be clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
Specific work for pupils on the trip
Where appropriate, prepare worksheets/questionnaires/other information regarding the journey/visit.
Financial arrangements/collection of money
Complete all financial arrangements, including collection of contributions from pupils and, where appropriate, staff must ensure procedures are in line with the school’s and CYPS policy on charging and handling of monies (see Finance).
Akin to the financial arrangements is the finalising of all bookings. Bookings should be confirmed by all parties in writing. Wherever possible, school orders should be placed so that the school can be invoiced and VAT recouped.
If this is not possible, arrange for a payment by cheque in preference to cash.
Whilst no pupil should be excluded from an off-site visit on the grounds of hardship, a visit may be cancelled should it be financially unviable due to a shortfall in the donations. This should be explained to parents in the aforementioned letter.
For residential trips, a VAT exemption form should be sent to CYPS Finance Section.
On return, complete a statement of accounts and present this to the Headteacher/ Schools Trips Manager for counter signature and filing.
Notification of Serious Incidents.
Many incidents can be averted if staff are vigilant and review risk assessments (RA’S) during the activity. Should a change of plan be necessary, a revised RA must be completed.
All incidents and accidents should be recorded on the CYPS Incident Report Form. It may be necessary to also complete the Accident Book of the hosting establishment. It is also important that the Group Leader make and keep notes of all incidents.
Any ‘serious’ problems or incident should be reported immediately to the school emergency contact (usually the Headteacher) by the Group Leader. It is then the responsibility of the school to notify the CYPS Safety Team as soon as possible (see Guidance - Emergency Procedures Framework and CYPS guidance ‘Managing School Emergencies’).
A report and/or evaluation including if necessary, completion of all incident forms should be submitted by the group leader to the Headteacher/School Visits Co-ordinator (see Form 3 and 4).