liability during private secondary student excursions away from the campus and classrooms. The writer examines the many issues surrounding the need for such excursions and how possible liability is impacting such excursions and the professors' willingness to have them. There were five sources used to complete this paper.
Students spend many years preparing for their secondary education and arrive at university anticipating a lifetime of experiences in the next four to six years. Higher education is more than sitting in a classroom and taking notes and it is more than passing a midterm and a final. University learning is supposed to stretch and expand the mind in the direction of higher level thinking skills, thereby preparing the student to think and create once he or she gets out into the world. One of the things that professors have used to enhance the quality of learning for university students is the excursion experience. Excursions allow the teacher to take the students out of the classroom and into the world for the purpose of examining their class subject in three dimensional form. Excursions can be one day, or a long multiple day or week trip for the purpose of exploring class content and lessons. Many different types of classes benefit from excursions including science, history, political sciences and others. An excursion can be used to complete a lesson, teach a lesson or trigger a new idea which can be followed up in the traditional setting of the university. Unfortunately with the world becoming more and more litigation inclined the liability of universities and professors themselves has begun to reduce the number of excursions professors and other university personnel are willing to take with their students.
Secondary private schools are currently examining the legal framework that regulated the school organizations and administrations in this endeavor with and for their students. Current common law and education statutes govern several of the concerns regarding the act of off campus excursions for private secondary schools. One of the chief concerns lately is the concern of transportation to and from the excursion or camp. Due to recent concerns about accidents and injury of the students while they are being transported either to or from the excursion the schools have begun to look at alternatives as well as protections in this venue. With the changes that are taking place the schools are having to find a balance between self-protection and providing the best possible education for their students.
In 1861 The Education Act in Great Britain provided a responsibility of duty of care which mandated the teacher or school leader is responsible for the safety of the students in their charge when on excursions. In the following years there were additions and developments to the statute that further refined the meaning of duty of care. The result of these changes created an exposure to breach of duty claims when injuries occur during school excursions.
Within the college leadership structure, a curriculum committee is in existence, which is made from the heads of departments, deputy principals and the principal pf the college. It is in this committee's charter to plan and formulate directions in the college, represent each respective department in the college and create and implement policies that have a direct bearing on the effectiveness of curriculum issues. It is from this that the issue of school-based excursions came to light as being an area that required immediate attention in regard to planning, legal implications and procedure in order to enable least disruption to subject teachers in their planning of teaching concepts, and successful excursions with reduced capacity for legal problems. It is important to develop a solid policy regarding such liability so that universities can maintain the lowest possible tuitions, insurance rates and maintain the ability to provide excursions for the students.
IMPACT OF THE FRAMEWORK
The element that caused this policy to be birthed actually came from teachers who had concerns when students were absent from their classes because they were on excursions for other classes.
This concern translated to the need for department heads to sit down and formulate a policy to provide a cohesive atmosphere in which teachers can take students on excursions without worrying about legal liability or the fact that the students may be missing valuable instruction time in other classes. Once the procedure was established it was believed that teachers following it would be able to coordinate their needs with the student needs and not clash with the desire to go on excursions. In addition the policy works to prevent careless choices that might produce injury and thereby lowering the school liability.
The duty of teachers to exercise care when taking their students on excursions includes hours outside of school as well as inside of the school day. According to the act the teacher who has the students on an excursion has a duty to be careful of any decision or choice regarding that excursion that might cause injury to the students who are included (Tronc, 1989).
The policy considered and discussed the many different types of excursions that students may find themselves taking with their class and it was decided that activities which present a logical and high risk of danger should be avoided all together including white water rafting, abseiling and others). Any excursion that may present a danger should also be discussed with the head of the school and not undertaken without his or her express understanding of what the excursion is going to entail and the agreement that the trip can be undertaken.
The transporting of university students presents a dangerous liability to the school and the teacher. In recent years there have been several instances in which students have been injured or killed during the act of being transported either to or from school trips. The new policy mandates that several steps be followed so that the liability of the teacher and the school can be reduced during the transporting of students for the purpose of school excursions.
The supervising teacher(s) should ensure that:
• permission notes, including details of travel arrangements, have been signed by parents/guardians. This factor includes the proof that the parents are aware the trip is coming and that they give their permission for their student to be transported to and from said trip.
• copies only of permission notes are taken on the excursion. This element allows for the authorities to know that the students were granted parental or guardian permission to attend the trip and in the event of an accident the slips remove much of the previously encountered red tape regarding jurisdiction and treatment that may be deemed necessary.
• public transport is used whenever possible. This element of the policy is important because it potentially shifts the transportation liability of the students from the school to the public transportation methods and companies and government that oversees the transportation.
• adequate transport is provided for the number of people involved in the excursion. This element provides the future protection and defense of the school should an accident or injury occur. It allows the school to prove that it was exercising all possible choices to protect the students from injury in the event one occurs.
• all normal safety rules apply
(PARTNERSHIP WITH PARENTS http://www.pgrnet.org.uk/information/backread.htm)
The current state of litigation is causing teachers to hesitate or refuse all together to take part in off campus excursions. This in turn is creating a lower standard of education and less fulfilling educational experience for the students. It is important for the policy to address the transportation issue of excursions and create a safer less liable atmosphere so that teachers and professors can continue to use excursions as part of their classroom curriculum (Valente, 1997).