Chapter 14 educational visits of guide for school governorsThis chapter provides advice to the Board of Governors in relation to the arrangements for educational visits involving registered pupils at a grant-aided school.
In this chapter:
- Welfare and safety principles
- The law
Role of the Board of Governors
The role of the Board of Governors is to ensure that best practice procedures operate with regard to safeguarding the welfare of the school’s registered pupils during educational visits.
The Board of Governors has a statutory duty, under Article 17 of the Education and Libraries (NI) Order 2003, to safeguard and promote the welfare of registered pupils at the school at all times when the pupils are in the lawful control or charge of a member of the staff of the school.
14.1. Educational visits may be defined as all academic, sporting, cultural, creative and personal development activities which take place away from school and make a significant contribution to the learning and development of those taking part.
14.2. The legal framework to protect children from harm is provided, primarily, by the Children (NI) Order 1995. Thus, the following principles must be borne in mind by staff organising educational visits and by Boards of Governors sanctioning such visits:
- the young pupil’s welfare, which overrides all considerations, must always be paramount;
- the pupils have the fundamental right to be protected from harm; and
- special consideration must be given to pupils who have special educational needs, as they may be particularly vulnerable.
Under common law, children are legally entitled to receive special care and attention in terms of welfare and safety by those in whose charge they are placed. The 'duty of care' which is discharged daily by teachers and others who have a supervisory role in schools, applies to those activities which take place outside the school. It is incumbent on teachers and those with supervisory responsibilities, to act reasonably in all circumstances so that the personal safety and well-being of those in their care are not jeopardised during a visit.
14.3. Boards of Governors should ensure that the best practice in relation to visits is developed and implemented within their schools. In pursuance of this aim, Boards of Governors and their principals should
- ensure that the school has a written policy on educational visits;
- ensure that educational visits have specific educational objectives;
- satisfy themselves that a risk assessment has been carried out;
- ensure that appropriate safety measures are in place;
- ensure that the teacher in charge can demonstrate how their proposal complies with the school’s policies in relation to educational visits and health and safety;
- be assured that all adults involved in the visit/residential are child-protection vetted;
- be assured that the ratio of supervisors to pupils is appropriate for the needs of the group;
- insist that they are informed about less routine visits or residential activities well in advance of them happening; and
- contribute to the establishment of an acceptable code of conduct for both teachers/supervisors-in-charge and pupils.
14.4. Boards of Governors should note that educational visits may include the following:
- those which take place on a regular basis within the school day, for example, sporting fixtures, visits to the swimming pool or library ;
- one off day visits, for example, field study trips, regional sporting fixtures, theatre visits;
- residential activities, for example, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, field trips, outward bound activities;
- residential visits outside the UK or Ireland, for example, ski trips, international exchange activities.
- these may be residential or non residential activities such as hill walking, rock climbing, wind surfing, horse riding, rafting and open canoeing.
Children (NI) Order 1995
Education and Libraries (NI) Order 2003 – Article 17
(Duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of registered pupils)
Educational Visits Best Practice 2009 PDF 1,227 KB
(produced by a working group comprised of representatives from key stakeholder organisations)