Off-site Educational Visits Policy

**Detailed procedures and guidance related to off-site visits can also be viewed here: Off-Site Visits and Trips Procedures and Guidance **

Author:                Briarwood School


Off site visits are activities which take place outside the school grounds. Bristol Children and Young People Service, and Governors and staff at Briarwood school, believe that high quality offsite learning supports the development, independence and learning of our pupils.

“When you step outside the classroom you have the opportunity to transform learning and raise achievement. Learning takes place in context, by practical engagement and personal discovery”

CYPS (2014) ‘Learning outside the classroom Manifesto’

The Department for Education recently published a new policy statement regarding educational visits ( The statement replaces all previous government guidance and clarifies how health and safety law applies to educational visits and aims to reduce red tape and bureaucracy in organising visits and activities.

(People Directorate H&S Team, ‘Guidance for Educational visits’ Feb 2014)

This Policy has been written in line with Guidance published by DFE and Bristol City Council Children and Young People Service and Peoples Directorate. It has been agreed and implemented by governors, and aims to set out clear procedures to enable coherent planning and minimise risks to pupils, staff and members of the public.

Roles, responsibilities and authorisation

If an off-site visit is proposed, permission must be sought from the Headteacher, and the guidance below followed, before any commitment is made on behalf of the school.  The Headteacher will make an informed and final decision based on the educational benefits to pupils alongside other factors such as staff ratios and risk. Off-site visits may be cancelled or postponed on occasion due to circumstances beyond our control.

In line with Legislative expectation, Briarwood school has appointed Helen McDicken as School Educational Visits Co-ordinator (EVC).

The role of the EVC is to:

  • Ensure that they are familiar with National and Local Procedure and Guidance and support those engaging in Offsite visits, to do so in line with current legislation
  • Remain up to date with Legislation, Policy, Procedure and Guidance and to keep and share documentation which will support staff to operate within this
  • Ensure that all offsite activity meets employer and establishment requirements
  • Be the first point of contact for colleagues planning an offsite visit to prove support, advice and guidance
  • Ensure that Briarwood school Trips Out Request Forms and risk assessments are completed and handed in prior to off-site visits taking place
  • Keep appropriate records including record of visits and any incidents, accidents or near misses
  • Organise training and induction
  • Monitor practice – before during and after including evaluations
  • Support the head to make a judgement call about the competence of colleagues to lead visits

Where the activity involves a higher risk (category C) activity including a period of more than 24 hours, an overnight stay, or a journey by sea or air, the head teacher will follow ‘Offsite visits and Trips Policy, Procedures and Guidance’ and will seek the approval of the governing body and the LA before permitting the activity to take place.

The role of the party leader is to:

  • Seek permission from the EVC and head teacher by completing and electronically sending a ‘Briarwood school trips out request form’ making the benefits to pupils explicit
  • Appoint a responsible and suitable deputy party leader
  • Meticulously plan each visit considering health and safety as well as educational benefits
  • Where available, Seek risk assessments from providers and carry out their own thorough risk assessment prior to an activity or visit taking place and hand them to the head teacher and EVC at least two weeks in advance unless there are exceptional circumstances
  • Book buses with the admin team providing at least two weeks’ notice to maximise availability
  • If lunches are to be provided, to ensure that they are ordered at least two weeks in advance with consideration given to dietary requirements (order forms are in each office)
  • Check with the school office whether blanket permission was sought and gained at the start of the academic year
  • Nominate a responsible delegated deputy party leader
  • Share risk assessments and Emergency Procedure, with other adults taking part in the activity
  • Ensure medical records, care plans, and pupil profiles are up to date and available whilst off-site
  • If the activity leader and head teacher deem it necessary, book additional staff (forms in each office)
  • Ensure that medication is within date, stored carefully and available whilst off-site to comply with that subject area policy and procedures
  • To ensure that they have a school working mobile phone which is switched on and used only for emergency purposes and in line with our use of technology policy
  • Ensure availability of stocked first aid boxes both on the bus and about their person

Risk Assessments

A comprehensive risk assessment must be carried out by the group leader before the proposed visit. It will assess the risks which might be encountered and will indicate the measures to prevent or reduce them. The risk assessment should be based on the following considerations:

  • Identify the hazards
  • Decide who might be harmed and how
  • Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions to minimise these
  • Record your findings and implement them
  • Review your assessment and update if and when necessary

Staff planning an off-site activity should make a preliminary visit to the venue, in order to carry out an on-site risk assessment as well as seeking the providers own risk assessment if appropriate. It is important to take into account the probable weather conditions at the time of year proposed for the trip and the facilities available. They should also assess the site’s suitability with regards to the age, ability and particular needs of the pupils. Any such issues will be taken into account when the final decision is made on whether the visit should proceed.

Once completed, the risk assessment should be sent electronically, with the Trip request form, to the school EVC who will check, sign and forward it to the head teacher for approval in consultation with the Deputy head who has responsibility for the curriculum budget.  If approved, the head teacher will send this back to the party leader who must ensure that all adults attending the offsite visit have read and signed the risk assessment prior to leaving the building. Once signed, one copy must be taken on the trip by the party leader and another left on the clipboard provided by the school office.

A risk assessment must also cover transport to and from the venue (Please see Home to School and Trips out on Transport Risk Assessment). It will be the responsibility of the designated driver to safety check the bus using the safety checklists and complete accordingly.

All other transport will be booked using Bristol City Council with permission from the head teacher.

Communication with parents/carers

At the start of each year, permission will be sought from parents requesting permission to take their children offsite for educational visits within the local area and during school times.

DFE and Bristol city council are clear that no pupil should be excluded from offsite visits, however, out of courtesy; Briarwood will always endeavour to gain consent.  In the exceptional case that a child does not have permission to take part in an offsite visit, their participation will be considered by the head teacher on an individual basis.

Trips which involve a Category B or Category C activity (see ‘Offsite, visits and trips policy, procedures and guidance’ for details) require parental consent in all cases and without exception.

Some off-site visits may incur a “voluntary contribution”. No child will be excluded from an activity because of the unwillingness or inability to make a contribution.

Health and Safety

The party leader must be deemed to be a suitable person by the EVC in consultation with the head teacher who has overall responsibility for the safety of pupils. When in charge of a group activity, the party leader must make sure all adults accompanying the group are aware of the emergency procedures that will apply.  The party leader and deputy leaders should have their mobile phones switched on and should have the school telephone number in case of emergency. Where an activity extends beyond the normal school day the home number of a designated emergency contact must be provided.

Before leaving school, the party leader must sign all pupils and adults out of the building and complete the checklist using the ‘Day trip signing out form’ provided. They must also provide a signed copy of their risk assessment on the designated clipboard, demonstrating that all adults have read and understood it.

We require all those who are working with children and young people, to behave in a professional manner at all times, and to fully comply with the content of this policy and guidance, as well as all other school policy and procedure (available on all sites in a purple folder stored in each school office).  A copy of the missing child procedure and a laminated copy of the emergency procedure should be taken on trips along with data sheets for each pupil and care plans.

Mini bus drivers must have successfully completed a Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme course (MiDAS), and be between the age of 22 and 70 (see also Bristol City Council Transport Policy). Drivers are responsible for safety checking the bus prior to transporting passengers and should complete the checklists provided.

This policy is written to comply with and complement, Delegated services ‘Offsite Visits and Trips Policy, Procedures and Guidance’ which should also be read and understood by all staff involved with offsite visits. Copies and further information can be found in a purple folder in each office, by contacting the EVC or from the following sources:

National Guidance for the Management of Outdoor Learning

Adventurous Activity Licensing Authority (HSE)

Association for Physical Education – safe practice

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

Council for Learning Outside the Classroom

Institute for Outdoor Learning