The British Standards Institution (BSI) is working on a new standard aimed at making school trips abroad safer.

After consulting on a draft of the standard, it is now working on a final version which should be ready for publication in March or April of 2007. The draft version contains a section on the protection of children and vulnerable adults.

The BSI surveyed parents across Britain and found that they had many concerns about their children participating in school trips abroad and that they wanted a national safety standard to be established. It found that:

  • one in three parents don’t know who’s in charge when their children are away
  • 82% think trips should comply with a safety standard.

BS 8848 is being developed for adventurous educational activities abroad with the aim of reducing the risk of injury, illnesses or even worse. It sets out best practice processes for anyone involved with the organisation of expeditions. It will ensure that for every trip someone will be charged with overall responsibility and everyone involved will have clear accountability and defined roles.

The standard also act as an invaluable guide to schools, travel operators and other organisers, helping them to apply the principles of good management, ensuring risks are kept to a minimum.

Section 6 of the draft standard deals with protection of children and vulnerable adults. It states that when there is the probability of unsupervised contact between staff and under-18s or vulnerable adults, the venture provider will ensure the leadership team have been subjected to an enhanced CRB check and that members from abroad have had their references checked.

Mike Low, director of BSI British Standards commented: ‘Historically, travel safety procedures for young people on adventurous holidays abroad have been patchy. BSI has been working closely with parents, teachers and travel operators to develop this new standard, designed to meet the increasingly complex health and safety regulations facing young people travelling abroad.’

BSI standards are not part of UK law, but in the case of a legal dispute they are an established source of reference for judging whether an organisation has acted reasonably.

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