Schools today are under pressure to provide students with the maximum opportunity for as broad as possible an education. At the same time, the school environment and classroom are relatively safe and protected, but also restrictive in terms of insulating students from the world in general. To strike a balance between safety and learning, teachers often elect to include excursions beyond the boundaries of the school. These field trips are designed to provide students with a practical learning experience to supplement the information they are expected to internalize within the classroom. To maximize the positive effects of this experience, the Western Australian Department of Education has created a policy document to divulge the specific requirements for student safety during such trips.
This is then also the stated background of the policy, in that any risk factors related to excursions outside the school premises need to mitigated in such a way that the safety and well-being of all participants be ensured for an optimal learning environment.
As such, the objective of this report is an analysis of the policy document created by the Department of Education. The policy document contains very detailed information that relates to teacher responsibilities when planning and excursion. Teachers are required not only to engage in acivities such as assessing the activities, environment, and transport risks, but also to assess the capacity of students and management teams. Activities, for example, must be appropriate for the intellectual and physical development level of the children to take part in the activities. Permission is required not only from all parents, but also from relevant school authorities. With an increase in distance from the school environment, there is an increase in level of official approval.
Since all off-premise actitivities carry some risk, the policy seems to put appropriate safeguards in place to help both teachers and children engage in a safe and beneficial learning environment for all. Particularly, I am impressed with the detailed nature of the document, which includes six appendices with examples of checklists and permission documents.
The significance of the document for school excursions is that it requires a very thorough assessment of both appropriateness and risk for the activities planned. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing the heavy responsibility involved in removing a group of students from the school environment for the purpose of enhancing learning. At the same time, it acknowledges the importance of such activities to the learning experience.
Key points in the document include risk assessment, activity analysis, participant analysis, and permission. Risks should be analyzed for the environment of the excursion and transport. Activities and students need to be analyzed for appropriateness, while management teams need to be analyzed for competency in handling responses to threats and accidents. Parents and education authorities need to give permission for excursions.
There is a significant necessity for a policy of this kind in today's social climate. Children are vulnerable, precious, and facing many dangers on a daily basis. Leaving their homes to travel to the school environment carries daily risks. Excursions magnify these risks and require extra protection. Children need to be protected from potential violence or other types of harm posed by criminal elements or delinquency.
As such, teachers who plan excursions appear to be at the forefront of fulfilling the requirements of the policy. School administrators who provide permission are also primary subjects to the policy. All others involved either directly or indirectly are also subject to the requirements of the policy.
In conclusion, the policy document is an excellent safeguard to ensure that both educators and children receive optimal benefits and enjoyment during excursions.
Sample template FOR AN EXCURSION management plan
Excursion Title: Visit to the Zoo
Teacher in Charge: Ms. Emily Hutchins
Date(s): 20 September 2013
PURPOSE OF THE EXCURSION
The trip will teach children, in practical terms, about the variety of indigenous Fauna of the country.
It is expected that children will enjoy the excursion and learn by observation and reading information from labels.
1. ASSESSING THE RISKS
I have assessed the suitability of the zoo by first contacting the administrators by phone and then paying a physical visit to the zoo. I also spoke to the administrators during my visit to ensure the safety and cleanliness of the environment.