7 Essential Tips for Organizing Safe and Secure Student Trips
Student trips are incredible opportunities for experiential learning, personal growth, and unforgettable memories. However, ensuring the safety of students during these trips is of paramount importance. Teachers and school administrators play a crucial role in organizing and overseeing these experiences and it’s a huge amount of pressure. In this article, we will provide you with ten essential tips and best practices to help you prioritize student safety and safeguarding as you prepare to lead a student trip.
1. Conduct Thorough Risk Assessments:
Before organizing any student trip, conduct a comprehensive risk assessment. Your school most likely has a form or template to fill in, but either way you should be thinking about potential hazards and risks, and also mitigation strategies. This feels like an arduous task just required for the paperwork trail, but in fact, doing your research now will pay off later down the line if you ever need to pull on this knowledge. (Pssst: Our blog post next week is all about writing risk assessments!)
Think about the following things:
Transportation - is it public transportation? Will you travel as one large group or smaller groups? Is your transportation prone to delays?
Accommodation - how secure is the accommodation? Are other members of the public there? How will you share important information with students when they’re in their rooms?
Activities - does your school have a policy around swimming/water activites? Some schools have a blanket no to all water activities, are all of your students physically able to participate in the activities and if not, what can you offer those students who cannot participate or opt-out?
External factors such as weather and local conditions - where can you learn and follow important updates about where you are?
2. Establish Clear Communication Channels that don’t rely on sharing phone numbers:
Maintain open lines of communication with students and fellow teachers throughout the trip. An important way of keeping your students safe is to keep them informed. Out-of-date information or confusion can lead to miscommunication which can then lead to all sorts of issues. It’s important to provide students with detailed itineraries that are up-to-date, emergency contact information and protocols, and have a way to contact a teacher if they have an issue. It’s also important to create a communication channel whereby you can relay important information to all students immediately. Reminders the bus is leaving, an alert to do an emergency roll call, an update on a change of plans - sending information to students quickly is critical. Chapperone was designed with these explicit goals so is an essential tool when traveling with students.
3. Educate Students on Safety Measures:
Empower students by educating them about safety measures and their responsibilities during the trip. Some good steps to take with students is to enforce a ‘minimum of 3’ groupings whenever they go off by themselves - if a student gets into trouble, it’s important to have 2 additional students to help/go get help. You can also share how important it is that students charge their phones fully at night and don’t let their batteries run down - a good tip is to carry several portable chargers with you just in case. Encourage students to reach out quickly if they have a problem or are feeling unwell. If you have any students with severe allergies and who carry an epipen, it might be a good idea to conduct some training with the close friends of that student so they feel confident enough to give the epipen shot if need be.
4. Enforce Supervision Protocols:
Ensure an adequate student-to-staff ratio to provide effective supervision and be clear about this throughout the trip. Assign teachers or chaperones specific responsibilities and areas of oversight - a great way to do this is to break the large group into smaller groups and have one teacher oversee each smaller group. They can then quickly take attendance, be in charge of checking relevant students have epipens, medication, etc, and can be in charge of that smaller group when traveling en masse. It’s also useful to create a ‘duty roster’ for the trip - while it might seem unpopular assigning teachers to ‘bedtime checks’ or ‘morning room checks’ it’s actually a really great way of relieving some of the pressure on the teachers throughout the trip - they know when they are ‘on’ and ‘somewhat off’ as opposed to just a constant feeling of being responsible! You could also assign a role for the coffee run in the mornings - always a good way to get your chaperones ready for the day!
5. Implement Health and Medical Precautions:
Prioritize the health and well-being of students by implementing appropriate medical precautions. Collect medical information and consent forms from parents/guardians, including allergies, medications, and emergency contacts. Carry a well-stocked first aid kit and ensure staff are trained in basic first aid. Don’t have all this information live with just one person - ensure all your chaperones feel comfortable administering an epipen, make sure everyone knows the most significant medical needs of any student, and ensure any student who feels unwell knows who to contact and how. By using the Emergency Information in Chapperone you can share emergency phone numbers and also have students message you before things get critical.
6. Establish Behavior Expectations:
Set clear behavioral expectations for students during the trip. This can be done in a pre-trip meeting or at the school before you leave. It’s important to stress that the same high expectations of the student behavior that you have in school are continued over onto the trip, and it’s also worth mentioning that the consequences also remain the same. It’s worth mentioning that in extreme cases, a student’s parent would be asked to come and get their child to bring them home - that usually works as a way to share the most severe consequence! It’s also important to emphasize respect for local customs, rules, and the importance of representing their school positively. Address any disciplinary issues promptly and fairly, ensuring the safety and well-being of all participants.
7. Seek Feedback and Continuous Improvement:
After each trip, seek feedback from students, parents, and staff to evaluate the effectiveness of safety measures and overall trip experiences. Use this feedback to improve future trips, address concerns, and enhance the safety and enjoyment of students.
Organizing safe student trips requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a strong focus on student wellbeing. By following these essential tips and best practices, teachers and school administrators can ensure that student trips become enriching experiences while safeguarding the well-being of their students. And don't forget, Chapperone is a great way to help teachers facilitate a safe and successful student trip!
We hope these top tips for organizing safe and secure student trips were helpful. Any other top tips? Feel free to comment below!