Western Australian Excursions: Off School Site Activities Policy. EDP120 Introduction to Teaching WA Excursion Policy: Off school site activities document analysis This intention of this report is to analyse the Western Australian (WA) Excursions: Off school site activities policy document and discuss action plans for three potential scenarios. Effective 1 July 2003, (Western Australian Department of Education, (WA DoE), 2003) the rationale behind the policy is to set out and provide principals, teachers, and supervisors from both government and privately run schools with consistent, comprehensive standards and expectations whilst being off school grounds.
The WA school excursion policy, written by the Western Australian Department of Education recognises that a well planned, properly managed and curriculum aligned off site school excursion can contribute to the educational benefits for a student. (WA DoE, 2003, p. 4 2. 1) With an excursion not being a regular occurrence in a school year, and therefore a variation to the routine of a typical school day. It is essential to note that with any variation to a routine and environment, that there is an increase in the potential of risks and hazards. WA DoE, 2003, p. 4 2. 1) Especially, when students are in the public arena and the actions of others cannot be determined. In addition, schools have a moral obligation to provide a ‘duty of care’ to their students on and offsite school grounds. The care provided by the teacher/s-in-charge essentially needs to be increased in relation to these newfound potential risks. (Department of Education, Training, and Employment, (DETE), 2013) Hence, the importance of using such a policy in today’s teaching environment.
With the education and safety of students being paramount, schools are bound by common law to protect students, teachers, and others. (DETE, 2013). It is therefore not only health and safety concerns of students’, but a legal requirement to demonstrate that an excursion’s are planned efficiently, managed and risk assessed. (Tronc, K. 2004) In the event of an emergency, effective planning minimises the risk of confusion and empowers teachers to make informed decisions.
Furthermore, by adhering to the key points in the WA school excursion policy, the school is thus reducing the chances of a costly and lengthy litigation if a court deems that the school has not breached its duties. (Tronc, K. 2004). Key points of the policy include information on assessing risks in relation to; the environment of the excursion, transportation of participants, a students’ capacity; in relation to health, skill level and cultural requirements, establishing the skills of the supervisor/supervisory team and competency levels of involvement by external providers.
The policy then provides guidelines on; establishing supervision strategies, providing information and seeking consent from parents, developing communication strategies, emergency response planning, briefing students and supervisors, records that need to be retained, gaining approvals for excursions; whether it be interstate or international and then makes note on privately arranged activities. Scenario One The parents of a student are experiencing financial difficulties and cannot afford to pay for their child to participate in the excursion.
Whilst the policy does not give advise pertaining to financial hardship, the policy does clearly state, “Where financial hardship is understood to be the reason for a student’s non-participation, schools should endeavour to provide financial assistance”. (WA DoE, 2003, p. 11) It would be fair however to assume, that before an excursion is planned that the related costs would have already been deemed as reasonable and affordable and approved by the principal to allow students to participate. (NSW Government, Education & Communities, 2009).
Hence, it would stand to reason that if a parent was under financial burden due to the excursion, then the appropriate course of action would be to discuss their given situation with the principal to obtain available financial assistance. The issues with the policy regarding financial assistance is that there are no formal guidelines as to determining eligibility requirements, nor as to how much assistance should be provided and what would indeed be deemed financial hardship in the policy. Based on this lack of guidance it would be reasonable to expect that the principal would determine the assistance level based on the severity of hardship.
However, the foreseeable issue with this is that parents/guardians could place undue burden back on the school for ongoing assistance or indeed take advantage of the funding available. Interestingly to note The ACT Government provides information on their information portal website regarding financial assistance for families and they determine low income status by photocopying a government issued health care card or Centrelink card as these are means tested. (ACT Government, Education and Training Directorate, 2013, para. 7) Scenario Two
A student is injured during a class excursion to the museum. The student is under the care of a parent helper and requires medical assistance. Assuming that the excursion does not require an overnight stay and the parent teacher has been given the relevant approvals by the principal and/or teacher-in-charge (WA DoE, 2003 p. 14, 3. 10. 1). The teacher-in-charge would have already deemed that the parent helper has a working with children check or completed a Confidential Declaration, has the skills to perform a supervisory role and to manage an emergency should one arise. (WA DoE, 2003, p. 8, 3. 2. ) Prior to the commencement of the excursion a risk assessment and management plan would have been arranged and discussed in some detail with the staff and education officer at the museum. At the point of being alerted to the injury the supervisor would signal to the group of students the emergency signal that was communicated and practiced prior to arriving at the museum. (WA DoE, 2003, p. 12, 3. 6). Being that the museum has recommended student to supervisor ratio’s and does not offer supervision whilst on the excursions (Western Australian Museum, Government of Western Australia, 2013b, p. ) the parent helper will not be able to leave the students alone to seek medical attention as this would be negligent to the other students being left unsupervised. The museum according to their excursion essentials information booklet expects the teacher-in-charge to bring their own first aid supplies. (Western Australian Museum, Government of Western Australia, 2013a, p. 4) Depending on the nature of the injury the parent helper or teacher-in-charge would administer basic first aid and if possible with the assistance and/or guidance of the museums Senior First Aid trained Visitor Service Officer. Western Australian Museum, Government of Western Australia, 2013b, p. 3) If urgent medical attention should be required, it would be at the discretion of the trained first aid officer and/or parent/guardian once notified and medical appointments would be at the discretion of the parent/guardian as costs associated with the accident are the parent/guardians responsibility WA DoE, 2003, p. 25, Appendix E). During this time, the parent helper would have had access to the management plan that also includes student health forms and student emergency contact information, (WA DoE, 2003, p. 2, 3. 7) Either the parent helper or the teacher-in-charge would call and advise the parent/guardian and would then contact the principal. Being a museum that is a government owned building, the museum is fully compliant with the public liability insurance requirements (WA DoE. Page 9, 3. 2. 5, 2003). Scenario Three Three students miss the bus for their class excursion. The school principal asks you a (teacher) to transport the three students to the excursion using your private vehicle.
As part of the ‘duty of care’ of students, it is reasonable for a teacher to transport students in the event that they miss the bus for an excurison. However, according to the policy document guidelines “Private vehicles should only be used when there is no other option. ” (WA DoE, 2003 p. 7, 3. 2. 2) As the principal has asked you, as a teacher to transport the students it would be fair to determine that all other avenues had been previously exhausted. It should also be noted, that it would not be reasonable to assume that a student could make their own way to the excursion without being at risk of injury or danger.
The duty of care for a student is not limited to the school grounds and may require a higher level of duty of care than that of a parent’s duty of care. (Association of Independent Schools, (AISSA) 2000) It would be good practice, not necessarily a requirement of the policy to contact the parent/guardian to inform them that the student had missed the bus and to advise them that they would be travelling with a teacher in a private vehicle. The implications of not informing the parent/guardian could be far reaching, as the parent/guardian may not approve the transport by a teacher in a private vehicle.
The teacher-in-charge of the excursion also has a responsibility and could be held liable, to ensure that you the teacher, driving the private vehicle has comprehensive private motor vehicle insurance and the vehicle complies with the Road Traffic Act 1974. (WA DoE. Page 7, 3. 2. 2, 2003) Conclusion In conclusion, all schools have a ‘duty of care’ to the teachers, students, and others whilst onsite and offsite school grounds. A breach in a ‘duty of care’ can result in a costly and lengthy legal negligence case.
Hence, all teachers that supervise students have a moral and legal liability to be concerned for the welfare and safety of students. By adhering to the policy guidelines, this allows for a consistent approach to the welfare and safety of participants whilst on excursions. Furthermore, completing risk assessments and management plans, allows teachers to be empowered and to assess potential risks and avoid foreseeable and avoidable injuries. References ACT Government, Education and Training Directorate. (2013) Financial Assistance for families. Retrieved from http://www. det. act. gov. u/school_education/starting_school/financial_assistance_for_families Association of Independent Schools. (AISSA) (2000). Year 2000 Ncisa Conference, The duty of care of schools. Retrieved from http://www. ais. sa. edu. au/resources/Duty%20of%20Care%20of%20Schools. pdf Department of Education, Training and Employment (DETE). (2013). School Excursions. Queensland: Queensland Government. Retrieved from http://ppr. det. qld. gov. au/education/management/Pages/School-Excursions. aspx NSW Government, Education & Communities. (2009) Excursions Policy Implementation Procedures. New South Wales. NSW Government.
Retrieved from https://www. det. nsw. edu. au/policies/student_admin/excursions/excursion_pol/implementation_1_PD20040010. shtml? query=excursions Pack N Go Educational Tourism. (2011) Why school should have education trips? Retrieved from http://www. educationaltourism. org/why-us. html Tronc, K. (2004). “Schools and the law: closing the rhetoric and reality gap. ” The Practising Administrator. Vol. 26, no. 1, p. 22-24. Western Australian Museum, Government of Western Australia (2013a) Excursion Essentials. Retrieved from http://museum. wa. gov. au/explore/education/perth/excursion-essentials
Western Australian Museum, Government of Western Australia (2013b) Excursion Management Plan 2013 – Western Australian Museum – Perth. Retrieved from http://museum. wa. gov. au/explore/education/perth/excursion-management-plan-2013-western-australian-museum-perth Western Australian Department of Education (WA DoE). (2003). Excursions: off school site activities. Western Australia: Department of Education. Retrieved from http://www. det. wa. edu. au/policies/detcms/policy-planning-and-accountability/policies-framework/policies/excursions-off-school-site-activities. en? oid=au. edu. wa. det. cms. contenttypes. Policy-id-11684723