Need help with planning and executing school trips? The Off the Premises Handbook will help you to run well-planned, efficiently managed, interesting and safe events away from school, that will have a lasting impact on your students

Written by Caroline Stagg, Anthony Thomas, Peter Smith and Chris Warn

The Off the Premises Handbook is a comprehensive and practical resource to ensure you have the confidence to plan, prepare, implement and evaluate off-site visits which will support learning and enrich your relationships with students, with the full support of national, local and school policies.

Taking your students out of school, off the premises, for carefully selected and suitable purposes, is good for their learning. A steadily growing body of research and practice shows that there are short, medium and long-term benefits to students from such experiences, whatever the subject or activity.

Being off the school premises can at times seem to be fraught with difficulties and danger. However, the benefits of offsite learning, be they visits to the theatre, art gallery, religious building, farm, field centre, factory, or another country, make the efforts educationally worthwhile. If visits, events and ventures are well planned and managed, with adult support that is well trained and informed, then the unanticipated and unforeseen are minimised.

What the Off the Premises Handbook can do for you:

  • Provide comprehensive guidance on planning, implementing and evaluating every stage of your school visit
  • Help you identify and remove barriers to taking learning off-site
  • Relate off-site learning to your school’s self-evaluation form (SEF)
  • Save you time and effort by providing templates for letters, forms and checklists
  • Provide case studies of best-practice
  • Ensure you are confident and capable in carrying out risk assessments
  • Help you to budget for your trip
  • Help you to brief parents

How to use this resource
The Off the Premises Handbook is an invaluable publication that is both comprehensive and practical. It is intended as a resource to be dipped into for finding out what specifically concerns the reader. It is a reference book, not something to be read from start to finish — although if you are new to taking students out of school, a straight read will highlight all the pertinent issues.

CD-Rom templates included
The CD-Rom templates can be used as a shortcut to create a new letter, list or communication each time there is a visit planned. They are adaptable to changing circumstances. There are also comprehensive checklists to ensure that you don’t overlook anything in your planning and preparation.

As well as for general reference, this publication can be used effectively as a resource for in-service training within a school and as part of a departmental, key stage or individual’s professional development programme.

It is aimed to be useful to headteachers, deputies, educational visit coordinators and teachers in primary and secondary schools in England and Wales.

The main body of the handbook takes you through the process of organising a school visit – the principles of which are generic to any situation where you are taking students off the premises. A variety of templates and case studies are included in the handbook to help you identify the educational objectives of the visit, send letters to parents and write kit lists and other checklists. These and many others are included on the CD so that they can be saved onto your own computer and personalised for your school, as necessary.

Structure of the handbook

1. Introduction
Why go off the premises?

2. Overcoming barriers
Considers issues such as time, cost and worries about health and safety. Focus on how these can be mediated/overcome.

3. Embedding learning objectives
Detailed case examples of the planned learning for visits in KS4 geography and KS2 history, the principles of which can be adapted to your own planned visits. Also included is advice on covering the ECM agenda through work off the premises.

4. Initial planningIntroduction to different categories of visits and who needs to give permission for each.

Establishing the role of the visit leader, deciding where to go, when, how much it will cost and much more.

5. Inclusion of disabled students
Education and disability discrimination and how this relates to taking students off the premises. What constitutes ‘reasonable adjustments’ necessary to enable disabled students to join school visits, without compromising health and safety.

6. Detailed planning and organisation
Making a preliminary site visit, using a centre or external provider, risk management, finance, transport and insurance.

7. Preparation and final arrangements
Communicating with parents and gaining consent, parents’ meeting, detailed programme planning, deciding on groups, roles and responsibilities, preparing volunteers, preparing students.

8. Health, safety and risk assessmentHealth & Safety backgroundDuty of careCRB checksDefinitions of hazards and risksManaging risk in the fieldLevel of supervision and remote supervisionHazards on different types of visitTransportRisk in specific environments

Emergency prodedures

9. Doing the visitBefore you set offOn arrivalResidential visits

Groups away from permanent supervision

10. Evaluating the impactAdmin, classroom Student evaluations & staff evaluation

Evaluating for the SEF

11. Work experienceIntended benefits of experienceStudent eligibilityLimitations of work placementsArrangements to be made by schoolSpecific risks for young workersRole of parents / carers

Contact arrangements

12. Further reading

13. Templates/checklists
Comprehensive list of templates and checklists to use at every stage of planning, implementing and evaluating your off-site visit

ISBN: 978-1-905538-52-2

About the authors:

  • Caroline Stagg, experienced school governor in both primary and secondary schools, editor and writer for the education sector.
  • Anthony Thomas, Chief Executive of the Field Studies Council
  • Peter Smith, HMI, President of the National Association of Field Studies Officers, Trustee and Council Member of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the RGS’s Expeditions and Fieldwork Committee