Informing parents and obtaining parental consent
Parents must be fully informed (in writing) about the proposed trip before they are asked for their consent. This means that you should give parents information about the risks involved in the visit or activity, and the measures in place to minimise these risks.
Written information should normally include:
- the date and purpose of the visit
- the departure and return times back to school
- the collection point(s)
- the travel arrangements (and name of any travel company)
- the number of students in the group and what the supervision arrangements are (including times of remote supervision)
- accommodation information (including security and supervision arrangements on site)
- what the provision for special educational or medical needs are
- what the procedures are for students who fall ill
- the name of the group leader, and the names of other staff and adults who will be present
- information about activities and the risks present and how they will be managed
- what the insurance arrangements are for lost luggage, accidents, cancellations, medical cover, as well as any exclusions from policies and whether parents need to purchase additional cover
- what clothing, equipment and money should be taken by each student
- what the total cost of the visit will be.
Also remember to detail to parents the standards of behaviour expected of pupils (eg in relation to alcohol, sexual behaviour, smoking, discipline, and items which may not be taken on the trip). Parents should always be asked to sign a code of conduct form. Some schools inform parents of what the consequences will be if these standards are not met (eg withdrawal from activities and even asking parents to collect their child early in extreme cases).
Before the trip, parents should be asked to give authorisation in advance for any emergency treatment required by their child whilst on the trip, including anaesthetics or blood transfusions, should it be deemed necessary by medical authorities. Your headteacher should consider removing a pupil from a trip if parents do not agree to this.
Obtaining information about pupils
Parents need to provide you with any information about their child that is likely to be relevant to the management of the school trip. Apart from specific information which might be required by the venue or tour operator, make sure you ask parents:
- if their child has any allergies or phobias
- if their child takes any medication (if so, who should administer it during the trip and how should this be done?)
- if their child has had any illnesses recently
- what the contact details for their child's doctor are
- if their child has any dietary needs
- whether their child suffers from travel sickness
- whether their child has any irregular sleeping patterns
- about their child's swimming abilities or other competencies, if relevant (eg skiing standard)
- if they can provide their contact details, including their reserve contact information
- if there is any other information they consider relevant.
Excluding pupils from the trip
Teachers are sometimes pressed by their employer to take a student with either a known or recently diagnosed illness, or a record of serious behavioural difficulties on a visit. After all, parents normally want their child to have as normal an education as possible, and schools will be mindful of their duties under the Equalities Act.
However, employers should consider carefully the extra responsibility and risk for the teacher and the group if a pupil whose illness is not under full control comes on the trip. If you face strong pressure to take a pupil whose health or behaviour record gives you a real cause for concern, seek advice from your headteacher, your LEA outdoor education advisor or ATL.