In practice, risk assessments are usually carried out by the group leader. An assessment should be completed well before the visit, and should be approved by the Deputy Headmaster.
A risk assessment for a visit need not be complex but it should be comprehensive. It does not generally require technical formulae or professional health and safety expertise, but specialised information for some visits may be necessary. If unsure, please seek advice from the Deputy Headmaster or the Bursar.
A formal assessment of the risks that might be met on a visit should have the aim of preventing the risks or reducing them. Pupils must not be placed in situations which expose them to an unacceptable level of risk. Safety must always be the prime consideration. If the risks cannot be contained then the visit must not take place.
The risk assessment should be based on the following considerations:
In addition to having conducted an initial risk assessment and completing risk assessment forms, the group leader must continually monitor hazards throughout the visit and adapt the plans and reassess risks as necessary.
The person carrying out the risk assessment should record it and give copies to all teachers/supervisors on the visit, with details of the measures they should take to avoid or reduce the risks. The Deputy Headmaster must also be given a copy so that approval for the educational visit can be given with a clear understanding that effective planning has taken place.
Frequent visits to local venues such as swimming pools may not need a risk assessment every time. Nevertheless, it is essential not to become complacent. A generic assessment of the risks of such visits should be made at regular intervals, and careful monitoring should take place.
The group leader and other supervisors should monitor the risks throughout the visit and take appropriate action as necessary.
Before booking a visit the group leader should obtain a written or documentary assurance that providers such as tour operators have themselves assessed the risks and have appropriate safety measures in place.
The group leader should take the following factors into consideration when assessing the risks:
An exploratory visit should be made by any teacher who is to lead a group abroad or on a residential visit or who is to instruct or lead the group in an outdoor activity such as trekking in a location that is not familiar to them.
The group leader should undertake the exploratory visit, wherever that is possible, to:
If an exploratory visit is not feasible then the group leader will need to consider how to complete an adequate assessment of the risks. A minimum measure would be to obtain specific information by letter from the venue, from other schools who have recently visited it, and from local organisations such as tourist boards.
Detailed advice on particular categories of visits which carry specific risks is provided in the document: Health and Safety of Pupils on School Visits (HASPEV): a good practice guide. Chapter 8 deals with Types of Visit and Chapter 9 with Visits Abroad. This can be found in the public area of the School’s ICT network in the folder: Educational Visits.
New groups of pupils may be taken to the same location each year. As some factors will change from year to year, it is prudent to re-assess the risks each time even when the group leader stays the same.
For the Educational Visits Risk Assessment Form click here
Reviewed: Michaelmas Term 2011
Next review by: Michaelmas Term 2013