Monday, November 07, 2005

The Risk Debate: What are they saying ?

PM Tony Blair speech 26th May 2005

“……something is seriously awry when teachers feel unable to take children on
school trips, for fear of being sued ……”

Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Education said:

“The majority of schools already offer a range of outdoor learning including
school trips that enrich the curriculum, build confidence and increase
skills.“However, we know that some schools and staff would like re-assurance
about their responsibility for pupil safety. ( and, ipso facto, expedition
leaders )
“We want to make sure that all school staff have the confidence to
continue offering these experiences and that everyone involved in a school trip,
including parents, are aware of their rights and responsibilities.”

With the new guidance in place the Government would like to see school visits become an important part of a young person’s education. This will be a key aspect of the new Manifesto for Education Outside the Classroom to be launched in the new school year.

Bringing together a range of stakeholders, the Manifesto will:

  • set out a joint commitment that all children should have the opportunity of a wide range of high quality outdoor learning, including at least one residential experience
  • encourage schools to partner with other schools and outdoor learning providers
  • encourage parents to take an active interest outdoor learning
  • set out a range of advice and support; provide information and good practice guidance on health and safety issues
  • and set out priorities for the development of outdoor learning.

Around thirty partners from across the outdoor learning sector have already been involved in early Manifesto discussions. They will work together to establish a broad range of priorities for helping schools to improve the range and quality of education outside of the classroom.
The DES working in partnership with the YET will contribute to the development of the above aims.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Overseas Expedition Leader Development

The 3rd Young Explorers’ Trust Forum was held at Buxton in April. Clive Burgess represented the DES.

The aim of the forum is to bring together the expedition providers both commercial and voluntary to share information and good practise. The DES young leader development programme was featured and scrutinised by forum members. Draft proposals for an Expedition Leader Development Plan offering a seamless and progressive route through the tiers of leadership were produced and will be further developed at the next forum.

The DES has always seen the mentoring of its young leaders to be the cornerstone of its programme. This summer, Emily Andrew led a peer group climbing in the Dolomites; with her went Catherine Freeman another fine young leader who impressed the expedition panel of the YET and DES with her plans for Peru. Another member, Clare Davenport who teaches at Shaftesbury, is beginning to develop a programme within her school (read more about these three in this edition).

The partnership between expedition providers is essential; the reasons are apparent. A series of high profile incidents leading to the deaths of young people both in the UK and abroad has only served to fuel the argument that there should be more controls put upon expeditions using the licence method currently employed.

"The activities run by adventure programs involve risk and danger, but so does
everything else in life! The presence of danger gives rise to risk, and
risk of one of the critical components that makes adventure programming popular
and successful. State-of-the-art safety procedures are used to reduce the real
dangers, yet keep desired perceived risks high. Therefore, balancing risks
and safety is a central paradox....research has repeatedly shown that adventure
activities are significantly safer than most other traditional physical

Priest & Gass, 1997

Yet deaths of young people* on adventure trips is tragic and stirs up a media frenzy. The highest injury/fatality statistics are related to wilderness, expedition-based outdoor programs. These rates, however, are still quite low and equivalent to school physical education programs and sport, but less than the risk of injury in contact sports.

There is a perceived threat that if the ‘industry’ does not produce a self-regulation plan, then the government will impose regulations and with it the inevitable outside inspections. Thus the YET forum is determined to show that as responsible youth expedition providers, we are keen to contribute and sign up to standards that ensure the safety of our young people.
* The Health and Safety Executive report on the tragic death of Max Palmer in Glennridding Beck May 2002 while on a school trip can be read. Its website is type in Education then click on School Trips

Rescue Emergency Care (REC) First Aid Course

How often do we all leave the house for an afternoon stroll in the sun or to walk the dog, spend a weekend away, in Dartmoor or North Wales, coming back with memorable experiences…? How often do we not even consider how different these experiences may have become?

A falling rock, a trip over a stray branch or an unexpected turn of the weather are all possible occurrences we may come across within our hobbies. Enjoyable, relaxed situations unfortunately have the potential to change into medical emergencies and the harsh reality is that there isn’t likely to be a fully-fledged paramedic conveniently walking past.

Having to cope with the situation can be a stressful experience. Would you know what to do?
On the weekend, 9-10th April, twelve DES members congregated for the Rescue Emergency Care level 2 First Aid course. Fingers crossed for good weather, we set out to embark upon a weekend of discovery. Despite the early morning our two instructors, Russ and Ian, managed to appear bright and breezy, coaxing life into us as we learnt about how to cope in emergency situations. Hands-on experience played a large part within the course and local residents must have been concerned by the large number of bandaged casualties that kept appearing all weekend!!

The first day we learnt a lot of useful theory, and the structure of the course gave us a good opportunity to meet new people. The final afternoon however, was the best bit of the weekend…. After developing our knowledge we were given the opportunity to put all our skills into practice. Split into groups, casualties were taped and stickered to represent afflictions such as fractures, sprains and even diabetes. We were challenged to identify and treat our casualties in many different situations and even though we all noted how stressful the situation was, we all realised just how much we had learnt over the weekend.

The course was tailored towards outdoor experiences. Considerations about the different strategies needed if an incident occurred while we were in the middle of nowhere, made everyone think. You’d be surprised at the amount of stuff within your rucksack that can be adopted for a first aid purpose!!

The First Aid course provided a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and boosted our confidence no end. Although we all hope that we will never need to use these skills, being prepared is a serious advantage.

I would thoroughly recommend the course to anyone, not only do you learn vital life saving skills but you also have a lot of fun. Many thanks go to Sam Temple for organising the course and for providing the well-needed sustenance used to fuel us through the weekend!!

Mel Power