Headlines: October 9th, 2009

Teachers think school trips are valuable, but less than half of youngsters went on a trip last year. A survey commissioned by the Countryside Alliance Foundation found that the reasons for so few trips were concern about health and safety and fear of litigation.

The Alliance used the Freedom of Information Act to find out how much litigation there had been in the last 10 years. It found that of the millions of individual school trips taken in the period, only 364 ended in legal action and in fewer than half of cases was a school found to be culpable and ordered to pay compensation. Over the period the total amount of compensation paid out was £404,952.14, meaning on average local authorities paid out just £293.44 per year in compensation between 1998 and 2008.

In contrast the survey revealed that 76 per cent of teachers felt the main barrier in taking pupils to the countryside to facilitate learning was ‘concerns about health and safety’. While 49 per cent felt that a main barrier was “fear of litigation in the unlikely event of an accident”

The research backs up the Countryside Alliance’s Rural Manifesto, which calls for outdoor learning to feature on the school curriculum. Simon Hart, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “Statistically, the chances of accidents happening are low and we are working to explode the myths that the countryside is any more dangerous than anywhere else. The benefits of practical countryside education far outweigh the concerns”.