Policy on Overnight Expeditions or Trips Abroad
The Board of Management supports the active involvement of staff in organising trips/ outings / activities for the pupils, viewing this as an enriching part of the school experience. The following information is provided to assist staff in the planning and conduct of such activities and ensure that such activities meet the necessary requirements of health, safety and welfare for all involved.
This policy deals with events that entail a great deal of structured organisation involving foreign tours/school exchanges. Guidelines for day/trips/sporting activities are contained in a separate document.
Approval of Board
Included in the proposal, should be the educational or other benefits that the students will derive from the trip. The Board of Management will consider the following when reaching its decision
• The appropriateness of the proposed trip in terms of DES Circular M20/04.
• The staffing arrangements for the trip and for the school.
Except in the case of school exchanges and trips abroad, the school will only use the services of licensed tour operators/travel agents when organizing trips outside the state.
• The number of students participating varies depending on the nature of the trip and the staff/student ratio will be appropriate to the age group, gender and as recommended by the travel agency.
• School tours (Abroad) 1 Teacher: 8 Students (a teacher will be assigned 8 particular students before the trip begins)
• Regular head counting of students will take place, particularly when leaving any venue. All supervisors will carry a list of all students and adults involved in the trip. The group leader will establish rendezvous points and tell students what to do if they become separated from the group. The group leader will ensure that all supervisors are aware of their duties and responsibilities during the trip.
• Remote supervision may have to take place on occasion, e.g. if students are on shopping trips and certain adventure activities. Parents should be notified of this in advance. Students will be advised to stay in groups of at least 3 or 4 students, as appropriate and adequate arrangements should be made re: checking in with supervisors at certain times. No student is permitted to leave their assigned group.
• All members of staff will be expected to share the work load beforehand, where necessary and during the trip.
• Parents will be informed as early as possible of the full cost associated with the trip.
• Written permission must be received from the parents of all trip participants and a receipt for all money paid should be issued.
• Proper and full insurance cover must be in place for all school trips.
• All money collected for a school trip will be lodged as soon as possible.
• Students are required to pay an initial deposit, followed by the remainder of the money within a stated period of time. In order for a student to participate in the trip all outstanding school fees must be paid before the initial deposit is paid.
• In the case of trips being oversubscribed, priority is given to those students who are studying the appropriate subject. All students who want to participate will be facilitated in as far as is possible.
• School Management reserves the right to withdraw permission for a student to participate in an activity where there is evidence that the student has engaged in behaviour in school that could jeopardise the programme or if it is felt that the school cannot meet the needs of the student abroad.
• Two white cards issued within the academic year of the trip will exempt the student from going on the trip abroad.
Information to Parents/Guardians/Pupils
• The initial letter to parents will contain a draft itinerary and deadline for registering and payment of non-refundable deposit. Parents must be made aware that the organiser reserves the right to make minor changes to the itinerary, that deposits will not be refundable and that students where permission has been withdrawn by the school will not be allowed to participate on the trip.
• When students are to travel abroad parents/guardians and pupils will be invited to attend a briefing meeting where details (oral and written) of the proposed trip will be provided.
• Students should clearly understand what is expected of them and what the activity will entail. They must understand what standards of behaviour are expected and why rules must be followed. Students will be made aware of any potential dangers and how they should act to ensure their own safety and the safety of others. Parents/Guardians and students will be told in advance about the procedures for dealing with misbehaviour/unforeseeable care needs and should the need arise, how a student will be returned home safely and who will meet the cost.
• No inappropriate use of mobile phones on the trip will be tolerated.
• When the deposit is paid, all Parents/Guardians and students must sign an acceptance of the Policy before students are permitted to participate on the trip abroad.
• If a passport is required, a photocopy of the student’s passport must be included with the deposit. This should be taken on the trip for emergency use. All passports must be valid for at least six months following the trip.
• If a group includes a student who’s national or immigration status or entitlement to an Irish passport is in doubt, it is advisable to make early enquiries to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Justice and Law Reform and the Passport Office. Deposits cannot be accepted until official permission is granted from the relevant government agencies.
• Visas may be necessary for the destination and some countries require them to be processed together. There may be an additional cost to secure a visa. Parents/guardians should be informed that students with non-EU passports may need visas for EU countries.
• If a student is subject to a care order, foster parents will need to ensure that Social Services consent to any proposed trip. If a student is a Ward of Court, the principal should seek advice from the Court in relation to trips abroad well in advance.
• Students must have their European Health Insurance Card (E111) for travel to countries in the EU.
• It is important to impress upon parents that the onus is on them to ensure that their son/daughter has all necessary up-to-date documentation well in advance of the trip.
• Parents will be informed in good time if there are any mandatory or recommended inoculations for the destination. It is important that parents realise that the onus is on them to make arrangements for their son/daughter to receive all necessary inoculations
• Students must attend all information meetings and co-operate with all requests pertaining to the trip.
• Parents must sign parental consent forms specific to the trip for students up to the age of 18. In addition to contact details, this must include details of medical conditions, current medication or dietary requirements as appropriate. Where a medical consent form is required it is the responsibility of parents/guardians to furnish this in advance. Parents/Guardians will be asked to agree to the student’s receiving emergency treatment including anaesthetic or blood transfusion, as considered necessary by the medical authorities.
• The school management may decide that students with certain medical conditions may not be brought on trips. Such decisions shall be taken on the basis of medical evidence and in the interest of the health and safety of the student and others.
• Mobile phone communication between teachers/supervisors and students on the trip may be necessary. A list will be made of participants’ mobile phone numbers (as given on the Consent Form) and students will have the mobile phone number of trip leader assigned by the school – to be carried with them at all times while on the trip. Parents/guardians must provide two emergency contact numbers to the school. They must be available to be contacted for the duration of the trip. A mobile phone is available from the School for foreign or overnight trips, as staff members will not be giving their personal mobile phone numbers to students.
• The trip organiser must have an emergency contact number; usually this will be the Principal and the Deputy Principal.
Travel Insurance should be organized for educational tours/activities which involve travel outside the island of Ireland. School tour operators normally provide travel insurance as part of the tour package.
• Where groups consisting of boys and girls are sharing accommodation, boys and girls will stay in separate rooms. If necessary two members of staff may carry out inspection of rooms or personal property (bags, suitcases etc) with the student present. This will only be done for good reasons based on reasonable grounds, such as concern for physical safety, suspected possession or use of a banned substance or other concerns.
• Staff should not have any physical contact with a student’s clothing. If a search is deemed necessary, the student should be asked to empty his/her own pockets or to search the clothing that he/she is wearing.
• If a student is found to be in serious breach of any of the rules in the School Code of Behaviour, the staff in charge must contact the Principal immediately.
• An Accident/Incident Report Form (see attached) must be completed for all accidents or incidents which have occurred. Examples of reportable incidents include: persistent lateness at the rendezvous point; not staying with the group; rudeness to teachers; and serious breach of school rules, particularly in relation to alleged or proven alcohol or substance abuse.
• A rota will be organized to assign night-time corridor duty.
Sanctions on Tour
• The Tour Leader will use sanctions as deemed appropriate. A verbal warning may be adequate in some cases. However, if the misbehaviour is deemed to be more serious, the student(s) involved may also miss out on certain activities at the tour Leader’s discretion. A student prevented from participating in an activity must be supervised by a teacher for the full duration of the activity. Further sanctions may be imposed following the student’s return to school, including being banned from future trips.
• In the case of very serious misbehaviour/or circumstances involving care needs, e.g. use/possession of alcohol, illegal substances, cigarettes; disruptive behaviour on coach, plane, boat or in accommodation; lack of respect for accompanying adults; theft or criminal damage, or any incident in which the health and safety or any person on the trip is put in jeopardy, the parents/guardians will be informed and if necessary arrangements will be made for the offending student to travel home. The parents/guardians will be liable for the extra cost involved in this instance.
• In the case of a serious/criminal incident, such as shop lifting/violent attack, the parents will be informed immediately and the matter will be handed over to the local police authorities.
If an accident/incident happens, the priorities are to:
• Assess the situation.
• Safeguard the uninjured members of the group.
• Attend to the casualty.
• Inform the emergency services and everyone who needs to know about the incident.
• The group leader should take charge in an emergency and ensure that back up cover is arranged.
• All those involved in the school trip should be informed of the proposed arrangements in advance.
• There should be a named school contact with all the necessary information about the trip. This person is the school’s link with the group and the parents/guardians, and to provide assistance as necessary.
If an emergency occurs on a school trip, the main factors to consider include:
I. Establish the nature and extent of the emergency as quickly as possible.
II. Ensure that the group is safe and looked after.
III. Establish the identity of any casualties and get immediate medical attention for them.
IV. Ensure that parents/guardians are informed and in cases of minor injury adequate arrangements should be made, where appropriate, to get the student home, to liaise with the parents and to ensure that the injury is monitored.
V. Ensure that all members who need to know are aware of the incident, and that all group members are following the emergency procedures.
VI. Ensure that the teaching personnel accompany causalities to hospital and that the rest of the group are adequately supervised at all times and kept together.
VII. Notify police if necessary.
VIII. Notify the Irish Embassy/Consulate, if abroad and if appropriate.
IX. Inform the school contact.
X. The following details should be passed on to the school via the school contact:
• Nature of the incident.
• Date and time of the incident.
• Location of the incident.
• Names of casualties and nature of injuries.
• Names of others involved so that parents can be reassured.
• Names of witnesses.
• Action taken so far.
• Action yet to be taken and by whom.
XI. Notify insurers, especially if medical attention is required. This may be done by the school contact.
XII. Where relevant, notify the Travel Agent or transport operator. This may be done by the school contact.
XIII. Ascertain telephone numbers for future calls. Landlines should be used, where practicable, to ensure quality of communication.
XIV. Write down accurately and as soon as possible all relevant facts and witness details, and preserve vital evidence.
XV. Keep a written account of all events, times and contacts after the incident.
XVI. Complete the schools accident report form as soon as possible. Copies should be brought on residential and foreign trips.
XVII. No one in the group should speak to the media. Names of those involved in the incident should not be given to the media as this could cause distress to families. Media enquiries should be referred to a designated media contact in the home area.
XVIII. No one in the group should discuss legal liability with other parties.
XIX. In the event of an emergency at home, parents should contact the group leader/school contact, who will then liaise with the student.
XX. In the event of an emergency on the trip, students should not contact home directly, before the group leader/school contact has done so or directed by the group leader.
XXI. Appropriate first aid equipment should be brought on all trips.
Conclusion of Tour
Within two weeks of returning to the school the tour Leader should provide the Board of Management with a general written report outlining:
1. The achievements/success of the tour.
3. Details of any incidents which necessitated the imposition of sanctions.
4. Details of any incidents which necessitated medical intervention.
5. Details of any changes which were made to the original itinerary and why this was necessary.
6. Recommendations for future overnight expeditions or trips abroad.
Details of Proposed Overseas School Tour
Number of School Days _____
Brief Outline of Tour
Number of Students Participating _______Male_____________Female
Expected benefit to accrue from the tour
Why is the tour deemed to be necessary?
Adults accompanying the students
Group Leader ______________________________________
Number of other teachers ________ Male ________ Female
Number of other adults ________ Male ________ Female
That appropriate arrangements are made for those classes whose teachers are absent with the tour
Yes __________________ No _____________________
That adequate Insurance is in place to cover all risks while on tour
Yes __________________ No _____________________
That parental permission has been secured for each student who is to participate on the tour.
Yes __________________ No _____________________
Signature of Group Leader _____________________ Date ________________
Signature of Principal _____________________ Date ________________
Members of staff taking students away in coaches should note and apply the following:
• Before setting off, the emergency exits must be pointed out to students.
• Central aisles and access to exits must be kept clear at all times.
• Students must be advised to remain seated facing forward and not to have unnecessary movement during the journey. Where seat belts are fitted, these must be used.
• Smoking is not permitted on board coaches.
• In the event of any emergency, students should leave the coach by the nearest exit as quickly as possible and re-assemble at a given area where a head-count can be quickly made.
• Students should not go back to the coach for any reason until the all clear is given.
• If the teacher in charge considers that there was anything the matter with the coach or driver, a full report must be given to the Tour Company as soon as possible.