Policy for OFF-SITE Visits
Off-site visits are activities arranged by or on behalf of the School, and which take place outside the
School grounds. The Headmaster and teaching staff believe that off-site activities can supplement
and enrich the curriculum of the School by providing experiences which would otherwise be
impossible. All off-site activities must serve an educational purpose, enhancing and enriching our
pupils’ learning experiences.
In this policy we seek to establish a clear and coherent structure for the planning and evaluation of
our off-site visits, and to ensure that any risks are managed and kept to a minimum, for the safety
and health of all pupils at all times. Within these limits we seek to make our visits available to all
pupils, and wherever possible to make them accessible to those with disabilities. The visits usually
take place within the school day.
This policy has been revised to incorporate the new national guidance on school trips
produced by the Department for Education (DfE) in 2011 and the Health and Safety
Executive (HSE) School Trips and Outdoor Learning Activities: Tackling the Health and
The aims and objectives of our off-site visits policy are to:
encourage visits that enhance curricular and recreational opportunities for our pupils and provide a wider range of experiences for our pupils than could be provided on the school site alone;
promote the independence of our children as learners, and enable them to grow and develop in new learning environments;
set out how visits are to be organised, led and managed, setting out the roles and responsibilities of all involved;
ensure that all activities have an appropriate and proportionate risk assessment carried out so that children will be as safe as possible. However, it is accepted that all activities carry some risk but we do not want these risks to inhibit the educational experiences of our children.
These visits begin with short excursions into the local area in the Early Years Foundation Stage, and progress to a residential experience at Key Stage 2.
If possible educational visits should be included in initial and long-term planning. In some cases, it will be necessary to plan further in advance, for example at the beginning of the School year, as some visit locations are in heavy demand.
Information needs to be sent for in advance, and where possible, a pre-visit arranged. The information collected should include access to toilets, lunchroom arrangements and include any information needed for wheelchair access, so that provision can be made for all pupils for the whole visit.
Curriculum Coordinators may have further information on suitable places to visit.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 schools must take reasonable steps to ensure that staff and pupils are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. This means when taking children off site teachers must make an assessment of any possible risks involved and take all reasonable steps to address these risks. Therefore, a risk assessment is carried out by the group leader before the proposed visit. It will assess the risks which might be encountered on the visit, and will indicate measures to prevent or reduce them. The risk assessment should be based on the following considerations:
- What are the hazards?
- Who might be affected by them?
- What safety measures are needed to reduce risks to an acceptable level?
- Can the group leader put the safety measures in place?
- What steps will be taken in an emergency?
Staff planning an off-site activity should make a preliminary visit to the venue, in order to
carry out an on-site risk assessment. It is important to take into account the probable
weather conditions at the time of year proposed for the trip, and the party leader should take careful account of the facilities available, with due regard to the proposed size of the group. They should also assess the site’s suitability with regard to the age and any particular needs of the pupils. They will also consider the venue’s own approach to security and to health and safety. Venues providing instructor-led activities will have their own risk assessments for particular sessions, and these assessments may be adopted if it is impractical for the group leader to experience the activity beforehand, or if he/she lacks the skills required to make informed judgements about the risks it may involve. The Headteacher will not have given their approval for the visit unless they are satisfied with the venue, its instructors and their risk assessment procedures.
It is important to assess and record any health, safety or security issues that are identified during the preliminary visit. Any such issues will be taken into account when the final decision is taken on whether the visit should proceed, and the Visit Plan must state both the extent of any risks involved, and the measures that will be taken to reduce or eliminate them. The cost of these preliminary visits will be borne by the School, and should be built into the overall financial arrangements for the visit itself.
A risk assessment must also cover transport to and from the venue. The coach company we use on a regular basis has provided us with a letter detailing all the health and safety measures it routinely takes, including:
- the provision and required use of seat belts;
- proper vetting of the driver by the DBS body;
- proper insurance for the driver;
- details of first aid and emergency equipment;
- breakdown procedures.
The group leader will double-check that all adults helping to supervise the trip hold the necessary disclosures.
Once a member of staff has decided on the visit location which needs a coach, then detailed preparation needs to start at least one month in advance. Local visits need to have at least one week’s notice so that permission slips can be sent out and returned.
The School diary should be checked to make sure the date is free. Ring and book your venue then give the School Administrator the dates, venue (including address and telephone number), time of coach. A coach can then be booked.
If a physically disabled child is going on the visit then additional arrangements need to be made. (Lack of facilities for physically disabled pupils need not prejudice the viability of a visit if no other venue is available.)
Once the details of the visit have been confirmed then a letter to parents needs to be drafted. This should be checked by the Headteacher, before asking the Office Admin to type and reproduce it. The letter should include details of:
- Departure and arrival times
- What to wear
- What to take
- Packed lunches
- Cost (if appropriate)
- A clear reply slip giving permission must be included for parents to return
NB Parents and adult helpers (with disclosures) are not to be charged when accompanying a class. Their admission fee, if applicable, should be budgeted for in the cost of the pupils’ visit.
Staff should keep their own record of slips and monies returned to school. Once all slips and monies have been received, they should then be sent to the School office. Every effort must be made to collect the voluntary contributions, but no child should be left at school because their family cannot pay.
All adults accompanying a party must be made aware, by the party leader, of the emergency procedures which will apply. Each adult should be provided with an emergency telephone number. This will normally be the School number, but where an activity extends beyond the normal school day the home telephone number of a designated emergency contact should be provided.
Before a party leaves school, the School office should be provided with a list of everyone, pupils and adults, travelling with the party, together with a programme and timetable for the activity.
The safety of the party, and especially the pupils, is of paramount importance. During the activity the party leader must take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that safety. This involves taking note of any information provided by medical questionnaire returns, and ensuring that pupils are both safe and well looked after at all times.
Prior to an activity, if it is felt that the behaviour of an individual pupil is likely to compromise the safety of others or the good name of the School, the party leader should discuss with the head teacher the possibility of excluding that pupil from the activity.
The costing of off-site activities should include any of the following that apply:
- entrance fees;
- provision of any special resources or equipment;
- costs related to adult helpers;
- any refreshments the School has opted to pay for.
Transport arrangements will allow a seat for each member of the party. It is our policy only to use coaches fitted with seat or lap belts, and to insist that they be worn by all those participating in the visit.
Our minibus meets LEA guidelines, and each seat has a belt. We instruct all pupils whether travelling by car, minibus or coach, to attach their seat belts. The School does not make a charge to parents if their pupils are transported in the School Minibus to sporting fixtures.
A detailed itinerary needs to be planned for the whole visit. This should include:
- Places, with phone number in case of emergency, details of disabled facilities and access if appropriate
What to take:
- First aid kit (from Staff Room)
- Any medication specific pupils need, for example for asthma
- Emergency contact list
- Sick bags, paper towels, plastic bags, antiseptic wipes
- Any resources or equipment needed
- Cheque(s) to pay for costs
The amount the pupils pay needs to cover the whole cost of the visit including transport, admission fees, educational packs, adult helpers etc. Some visits are included in the school fees.
Child – Adult Ratio
Ratio of pupils to adults should be at least 1:5 in Reception, rising to a ratio of 1:12 in Year 6. The number of adults needed will depend on the nature of the visit and the amount of supervision needed.
It is easier to identify pupils if they are wearing their full school uniform and yellow coats. If the visit is likely to involve a lot of outdoor activities, for example, to a farm, then request that parents send their pupils in home clothes. Child size high visibility jackets are available should this be thought necessary for health and safety reasons,
- Pupils must be supervised by an adult at all times, including lunch times
- A suitable place for lunch and toilet facilities needs to be considered
- Staff must make an assessment of any potential hazardous situations before the visit takes place, for example pupils’ playgrounds
- All adults need to be comprehensively briefed so that they know the itinerary, which group of pupils are in their charge, the aims of the visit, and exactly what their duties are.
- Please also refer to the school Health and Safety Policy, particularly the section on Outdoor Visits.
This is at the discretion of the class teacher.
Pupils in Years 3, 4, 5, & 6 have the opportunity to take part in a residential visit. This activity
is in school time and linked to the National Curriculum, so we do not make any charge for
the education. We do, however, make a charge for board and lodging, transport,
insurance and specialist instruction for certain activities. The residential visits enable
pupils to take part in outdoor and adventure activities as part of their PE work.
All residential visits follow:
- LEA guidelines (where appropriate)
- School policy on educational visits
Plans for a residential visit need to take place 9–12 months in advance. Prior to any residential visit, the staff responsible need to visit the venue to:
Check for suitability and safety, especially appropriate safety standards in outdoor activity centres as well as to ensure that all staff on the site are suitably qualified and have the appropriate disclosures.
- Look at disabled access/facilities/arrangements if these are required
- Collect information about the venue and its surrounding area
- Find out location, address and phone numbers of the local doctor’s surgery, nearest hospital etc
Following the initial visit, costs need to be worked out. A parents’ meeting must then be arranged. This should explain:
- Purpose of visit
- Practical arrangements
- Arrangements for supervision and safety
- Insurance arrangements
- Medical and emergency arrangements
- Consent forms
- Contact numbers
- A detailed itinerary
- Contact numbers of parents and staff
- Medical and dietary arrangements needed
- Rotas of staff on duty
- Use of leisure time
- Stand-by staff arrangements (They must be available throughout the entire event, and must hold all information, contact numbers, hotel numbers etc, to enable them to respond to an emergency at either end)
During the visit:
- Staff must ensure the adequate supervision and safety of all pupils at all times
- In the case of any emergency, the appropriate adults at school must be contacted immediately
- Pupils should know which adult is on duty at all times
Further information can be found in the booklet ‘Visits Abroad’ attached to this policy.
Further health and safety considerations
All adults accompanying a party must be made aware, by the party leader, of the emergency procedures which will apply. Each adult should be provided with an emergency telephone number. This will normally be the school number, but where an activity extends beyond the normal school day, the home telephone number of a designated emergency contact should be provided.
Before a party leaves school, the school office should be provided with a list of everyone, children and adults, travelling with the party, together with a programme and timetable for the activity.
The safety of the party, and especially the children, is of paramount importance. During the activity, the party leader must take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that safety. This involves taking note of any information provided by medical questionnaire returns, and ensuring that children are both safe and well looked after at all times.
If it is felt that the behaviour of an individual child is likely to compromise the safety of others or the good name of the school, the party leader should discuss with the Head teacher the possibility of excluding that child from the activity.
Monitoring and review
This policy is monitored by the Headmaster and will be reviewed every two years or before if necessary.
Iain Robertson, Headteacher.
Updated September 2016.