WHS in Schools: Excursions for NT schools

More and more teachers in the Northern Territory choose to leave the classroom to provide the ultimate learning experience for the students and that is great.

With a risk management focus, the vast majority of teachers researching and planning for students to leave the classroom request only two documents from potential providers, that is, their “risk management documentation” and public liability insurance.

Ideally, school should have the following policies and procedures relating to risk management during excursions as well as First aid kits:

  1. Emergency Management Planning Procedure together with list of phone numbers (crisis directory)
  2. Parent/Carer Consent
  3. Planning and Approvals
  4. Staffing and Supervision
  5. Student Medical Information
  6. Student Preparation and Behaviour
  7. Accident Recording and Reporting
  8. Emergency Management Planning Procedure together with list of phone numbers (crisis directory)
  9. First Aid Needs
  10. Health Care Needs
  11. Health Support Planning Forms
  12. Portable First Aid Kits

Schools should also be able to enter into dialogue about safety with a provider, asking about the company’s safety track record – how many first aid incidents there have been in the past twelve months; how many of these have required further medical assistance etc. (A provider’s response to this request is also the ideal way to find out how that company values safety and risk management).

A second example of good safety management from school executives, principals and members of the board pertains to how much they value the experience being undertaken and how much they are willing to pay for safety. What it should represent is value for money – correct safety measures = quality risk management = value for money.

A third example of good safety management is evident when an organisation considers the time of year they choose to participate in activity outside the school grounds. Important questions need to be asked in regards to weather conditions. Will it be too hot? Will participants more likely suffer from sun exposure?

To ensure the health and safety of students and staff, schools are required to proactively manage all aspects of excursions. The school’s duty of care to students extends to school excursions, SSTs and camps, which are integral to students’ educational programs. Activities conducted away from schools may increase risks and therefore the standard of care required must reflect the increase in identified risks.

Schools must be able to demonstrate that activities have been thoroughly planned to ensure that students, staff and others will be safe whilst undertaking the activity. Any potential risks must have been identified and managed and there must be a planned response in case of an emergency. However, documentation need not be excessive but it has to be comprehensive enough.