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SCHOOL TRIPS AND MINIBUSES David Milton of Stone King LLP runs through best practice for schools organising educational visits and using minibuses. David Milton of Stone King LLP

that the third party who was providing

minibuses which should be reviewed

each minibus is regularly serviced and

the service is “reasonably competent”.

annually or sooner if required. This

maintained in accordance with a set

In such situations there is a need for

should address the process of recruiting,

maintenance schedule. This is in addition

“due diligence” which could include for

training and supervising drivers, issues

to the driver’s pre-drive safety check, which

example, checking references, checking

relating to the age, needs and behaviour

should include the exterior of the vehicle

qualifications or accreditations,

of passengers, accident and emergency

(for example the oil, washer fluid, lights,

requesting details of any previous

management systems, parental consent

tyres, door opening and closing) and the

incidents, checking the existence of

and general administration matters.

interior checks (to include, for example, the

suitable insurance and also checking


ndependent schools are renowned for

terms, this phrase means that the level of

following the investigation into any

the variety of educational visits they offer

risk is to be weighed up against the cost,

accident or incident.

to pupils. Such opportunities are invariably

time and aggravation of the measures

highlighted on a school’s website and in its

required to control the risk.

prospectus and undoubtedly constitute a

the existence of risk assessments. Once the school has undertaken these

For regular or frequent journeys, it may not be necessary to conduct a separate

mirrors, pedals and seat belts). Clear accident and emergency

written risk assessment for each trip.

procedures should be in place

The policy will also set out the need

enquiries (and with third party providers

However risk assessments for frequent

and should be included in driver

for risk assessment in respect of each

these should be regularly reviewed) the

trips should be periodically reviewed to

training. There also needs to be an

trip. To many people the very words ’risk

school can argue that it has taken the

ensure that they remain appropriate and

emphasis on passenger care as the

vital marketing tool which sells the school

The guidance

assessment’ can seem onerous though

reasonable steps necessary to discharge

that they are being properly followed.

behaviour of passengers can also

to prospective parents.

The current guidance in respect of

essentially risk assessment can be broken

its duty of care. Outside of emergency

A separate individual risk assessment

increase the likelihood of an accident

school trips comes from ISI Regulatory

down into five basic steps:

situations, the school may then wish to

should be conducted for every unusual

occurring. Passengers may have a

pupils’ health and safety on such trips,

Standard 3 which draws schools’

1. Identifying the hazards;

refrain as far as possible from interfering

or non-routine journey, or for example,

wide range of needs, which could

partly fuelled by persistent media myths

attention to the guidance issued by

2. Identifying the population at risk from

in the provision of these services. The

when passengers have special needs.

include physical, mental, emotional,

around health and safety in general. But

the Department of Education (DfE)

from a statistical perspective, according

in the 2011 ‘Health and Safety Advice

to the Health and Safety Executive

on Legal Duties and Powers for Local

adequacy of the current controls;

(HSE), out of the eighteen prosecutions

Authorities, Head Teachers, Staff and

4. Recording the incidents and findings;

carried out in the primary, secondary

Governing Bodies’ which replaced the

and vocational sectors between 2005 and 2010 only two related to a breach during school trips. So is there any need

Educational Visits’.

However, concerns remain about

Of course there is a world of difference

With regard to the vehicle itself, the

medical, or behavioural needs. Drivers

potentially taking responsibility away

legal requirements are that every

and passengers need to be aware in

from the third party and being held

minibus must:

advance of the needs of passengers

liable themselves, at least in part. Any

1. Be correctly licensed;

who are to be carried. Passengers

5. Communicating the assessment and

arrangements with third party service

2. Display a valid tax disc;

should then be carried in a minibus

previous (and much more detailed)

on-going review of the assessment.

providers should delineate the division

3. Be adequately insured;

suitable for their needs and they should

advice ‘Health and Safety of Pupils on

A generic risk assessment for each visit is

of responsibility as far as possible. This

4. Be well maintained;

be adequately supervised.

not sufficient as each visit will have its own

should ideally be covered by written,

5. Have a valid MoT certificate (if more

particular hazards. For regular or frequent

signed terms and conditions which

trips it may not be necessary to conduct a

should be regularly reviewed in the case

In terms of insurance, the school should

belts, which are correctly adjusted to

separate written risk assessment each time

of frequent providers.

obtain written confirmation that its

maximise their fit, provided on all seats

insurance policy applies to all of the

and that passengers wear their seat belts at all times.

In addition to the above the ISBA has

to worry?

school needs to avoid the risk of

the hazards;

an educational visits policy template


3. Evaluating the level of risk and

than one year old).

It is also vital to ensure that each minibus is fitted with appropriate seat

between a short day trip to a local

on its website

museum, and a two-week expedition

which also provides detailed step-by-

but it is important that the risk assessment

to South America. The phrases

step guidance including planning for

for such visits should be periodically


people using the minibus and all of the

’educational visits’ or ‘school trips’ cover

emergencies, insurance and the need

reviewed to ensure that it remains

With minibuses, the first potential issue is

activities and journeys that are conducted

Remember, minibuses often carry the

a wide spectrum and each visit must be

for parental consent.

appropriate and that it is being followed.

simply that of who is going to be in the

in order to avoid potential indemnity issues.

name of the school and so they as well as

Also remember that the risk assessment

driving seat. Since January 1997 it is not

In terms of the maintenance, a clear

The policy

only needs to focus on ‘real and substantial’

enough to have a standard car licence

process must be in place to ensure that

examined individually on its own merits.

The duty

It goes without saying that each school

risk. It is not a question of compiling a 50-

– each driver must take an additional

Whatever the nature of the visit, the

needs to have a clear and effective

page document dealing with every single

DSA D1 PCV test. Each school should

duty on the school remains the same,

policy for educational visits which

potential eventuality. It should be enough

check and keep copies of the driving

as set out under the Health and Safety

needs to be communicated to all

for the school to provide a paper trail as

licences of each of the drivers. Although

at Work Act 1974 to ensure, “as far as

relevant parties. It is recommended that

evidence that there was a thought-out and

it may seem odd, it is important to make

is reasonably practicable” the health,

the policy is available on the school’s

appropriate risk assessment process and

sure that the drivers are not disqualified

safety and welfare of everyone who

website and, as with all policies in

that this was followed.

– some people do not like to admit

comes into contact with the school.

relation to health and safety, it needs

So for an educational visit this would

to be reviewed regularly. It may not

Third party service providers

of licences can be done online via

include the pupils, the staff, any third

be sufficient for the policy simply to be

Complications can arise with activities

the DVLA. As with all health and safety

parties or contractors or any members

reviewed on an annual basis. It will also

that are arranged under the control

issues, on-going reassessment needs to

of the public with whom the trip comes

need to be reviewed, for example, if

of third parties, for example a third

occur and suitable and sufficient training

into contact.

procedures change or if key personnel

party company providing outdoor

should be provided for the drivers.

change or to reflect changes in legislation.

activities. Here the duty on the school

It would, of course, also require review

is to take reasonable steps to ensure

Arguably, the key phrase in the statute is “reasonable practicability”. In simple


Spring 2013

the driver and passengers are some of its key ambassadors.

such to their employers. The checking

A generic risk assessment should also be in place regarding the use of

Spring 2013