6 Fail-safe School Excursion Risk Assessment Tips
What’s more challenging - a busload of hyperactive six-year-olds who don’t want to stay in the same seat for two minutes or a busload of fourteen-year-olds who think all adults are inordinately too careful?
Whichever of these, let’s agree that school excursions can be a very rocky, apprehensive affair if any aspect of the planning process breaks down. So let’s look into how we can make school excursions safe for children, with minimal fuss. Success in this seemingly daunting task is quite attainable once the task is properly organised.
Form a collaborative
It might seem a nice idea to assign a staff excursion manager to organise the whole thing. But that’s a bit like asking a friend to set up your wedding.
There are many layers to a school excursion – enjoyment, education, safety, support, sustenance, and timekeeping. Yes, the enjoyment and/or educational layer is the one you want the kids to remember, but adult memories will linger far longer on the other layers if they go horribly wrong.
So make it a collaborative effort from the start. And that means getting all relevant teachers, senior support students, volunteers, instructors and designated excursion parents involved as early as possible.
And no, that doesn’t mean everyone has to quit their day jobs; they’re simply in the loop creating the loop that gets your trip from school to destination and safely back again.
Manage risk like your lives depend on it
Because it does. The worst school excursions are ill-planned that lack the vital risk assessment research. You can’t cut corners when it comes to kids.
Call a meeting of your collaborative group and ask all the important questions:
- What’s the purpose of the trip?
- What’s the education component?
- What’s the fun component?
- What’s the hoped-for outcome?
- Where are you actually going?
- How are you getting there? Is that the safest option?
- Who has what role in your team? Are there any weak links?
- Is it a day trip or overnighter?
- If overnight, where are you staying? Is it safe? Is it right for kids?
- What can go wrong?
- How many children will the adults take care of to prevent losing a child?
- What happens if a child is injured? Is the First Aid kit prepared?
- What’s your plan for every worst case scenario?
- What are the existing school procedures you are required to follow?
That’s a good starting point as you interrogate the excursion from every angle and assess risks. Don’t just focus on the event itself; question every aspect of the trip from assembly prior to departure to safe returns home.
Create a checklist
Draw up a detailed spreadsheet of all the questions as they relate to actions required. Brainstorm the risks and possible complications; be creative with it, no risk is too farfetched to warrant serious consideration.
Who is doing what? Do they have the skills to do it effectively? If so, when do they need to do it by? If not, who else do we need? Do we need an expert advisor or some sort of specialist for this type of trip?
Create a timeline
When’s the trip happening? Work back based on all the planning required to maximise enjoyment and minimise risk. Do you have enough time? If not, postpone the trip until you do. Accidents happen on school trips because time isn’t taken seriously enough. Remember, you want your school excursion to make the year book, not the newspapers.
Assess progress regularly and reassess any areas that are falling behind or looking a bit risky.
Above all, be true to the single most important need: that every child, parent, teacher and the rest of your entourage have a great time and get home in peace and in one piece!