Last reviewed 19 February 2014

The Department for Education has published new guidance on the health and safety aspects of school trips.

The aim of Health and Safety: Advice on Legal Duties and Powers is to:

  • make it easier for schools to take pupils on trips

  • remove paperwork

  • reduce teachers’ fears of legal action.

It also reassures teachers that “It is very rare for school staff to be prosecuted under criminal law with regard to accidents involving children”.

It emphasises that schools do no need to carry out a risk assessment every time they undertake an activity that usually forms part of the school day, such as taking pupils to a local swimming pool or park. Any risks from these routine activities should have been considered when agreeing the school’s general health and safety policies and procedures. A regular check to make sure the precautions remain suitable is all that is required.

The guidance points out that the Health and Safety Executive is mainly interested in real risks arising from serious breaches of the law, such as a trip leader taking pupils canoeing but not ensuring they are all wearing buoyancy equipment.

The guidance, which is aimed at local authorities, governing bodies, Heads and other school staff, can be found on the website.