PSAs on school trips instead of parents

(55 Posts)
Jedbartletforpresident Mon 04-Dec-17 11:10:54

Anyone else in a school which does this?

Our school has always asked/begged parents to help out with school trips and has almost always got enough parents. There are plenty of us who are SAHM or who work PT and are always happy to help out. There is almost always also a PSA (TA) also on the trip, but they have always utilised parents.

New SMT - (Head & 2 deputes) - and all of a sudden parents are not being requested for trips. DD1 has had 4 trips so far this year and has another 1 this week and we haven't been asked to help at all. I asked her who went on the trips and she said the teacher and 2 or 3 PSAs. (As well as student teacher who is currently assigned to their class but that was just for last week's trip.)

It's not just her class trips either because I have seen several trips walking past our house (we live next to the school and the kids who know us always wave in at the window if they see me) and there haven't been any parent helpers - just teachers and PSAs.

I don't understand this - why would they send PSAs out of the school for a trip and thereby taking them away other classes when they could be using parents?

Anyone else have any similar experiences?

(There has been some speculation about it being a further indication of the SMT trying to keep parents out of the school - this is one of many changes along these lines since the new Head took over a year ago, but I don't want to cast aspersions if there is a genuine reason for it. I'd just like to understand because it seems odd.)

OP’s posts: |
mindutopia Mon 04-Dec-17 12:07:18

I've never been asked to attend a school trip with my dd. To my knowledge, it's just teachers and TAs at our school (which is a small school, they surely could easily cover their ratios just with staff from those classes on the trip, plus maybe a midday supervisor here and there, etc.).

Honestly, I wouldn't even think anything of it. My assumption would be that there is probably a safeguarding issue involved here, perhaps new requirements for CRB checks on parents (I sure would want to know what random parents were supervising my child and to know they were safe to do so). Or just the hassle of organising non-staff for these sorts of activities. Perhaps they got burnt with parents saying they would attend, who pulled out at the last minute, meaning they were left short-staffed and had to cancel a trip, and they've just realised it's not worth the hassle of depending on parents? I can think of lots of reasons, but none of them would be suspicious ones for me.

Johnnycomelately1 Mon 04-Dec-17 12:08:26

I would be so happy if this happened at my DC's school.

TeenTimesTwo Mon 04-Dec-17 12:10:20

I went on numerous trips while my DD2 was in primary, both for her class and other classes. I was often proactively asked by teachers if I could go. I think I was considered a 'safe pair of hands'. I knew how they crossed roads, I kept a careful eye on all the children I was allocated, I understood their safeguarding rules, and I wasn't afraid to keep behaviour in check. I interacted with the children on the trip helping them get the most out of it. (I also always asked NOT to be in DD's group).

Some other parents however were imo nightmares. They walked along chatting to their child or child's friend. Didn't do anything to keep children safe or in line when walking along busy roads/pavements. Didn't interact with the children whilst looking at whatever the trip was for. Generally treated it as a nice day out for themselves.

Maybe the new HT has had too many of the latter parents on previous trips?

MynewnameisKy Mon 04-Dec-17 12:12:38

Unless all these parents were fully vetted and police checked I think it's amazing it has took the school so long to come to this.

Jedbartletforpresident Mon 04-Dec-17 12:24:20

Never vetted or police checked. To be fair it was usually either walking with the class or sitting on a bus and then walking around the museum with them or sometimes just sitting to the side if not needed at the actual activity. I think it's almost always just to make up ratio numbers. PSAs always did toilet trips etc and parents were never actually responsible for kids.

The sudden change just seems odd and even more bizarre when we are in a situation of major teacher shortages and we have only 6 PSAs (2 of which are PT) in the whole school of almost 500 pupils

OP’s posts: |
grasspigeons Mon 04-Dec-17 12:31:34

I imagine they have risk assessed the trips and decided its better to have trained employees with DBS checks looking after the children.
I doubt its a conspiracy to keep parents out of the school


jamdonut Mon 04-Dec-17 17:34:10

Parents are hardly ever asked to go on trips in our school (nursery and reception sometimes do to keep the adult ratio up, but then it will be parents that are "trusted" )
Usually each class TA goes, along with some volunteer retired Staff or students as well as the las teachers, of course!

Youcanstayundermyumbrella Mon 04-Dec-17 17:37:45

I would love this. I work full time and I can never go along on these trips. I feel so bad for my kids, as other parents can go along, and they always mind my absence. I remember feeling the same at their age, when I had one of the only mothers who worked in my class years ago. So if no parents at all were going, my children wouldn't feel left out.

AlexanderHamilton Mon 04-Dec-17 17:37:51

Much better to have trained DBS checked school staff on trips than parents.

Jedbartletforpresident Mon 04-Dec-17 18:28:30

I see this is maybe more common than I thought and I can understand their desire for police checked people (however I've personally never met anyone who had a problem with fellow parents helping out with class projects and trips), I guess I'm just confused as to the sudden change and also as to whether it's a good use to PSAs. When we only have 5 in the school at any one time to cover 17 classes it seems madness to send 2 or 3 away on a trip when parents have always been more than happy to go and help out.

I do get the impression that the new SMT are "hot" on rules/regulations/best practices/bureaucracy. That's not a bad thing at all, but the relaxed, family feel, in the school has definitely gone. No parent helpers in class at all anymore either and parents who in the past have come in to share specific skills with classes (always done before on an ad hoc/when you're free kind of basis) aren't going in anymore either.

Just seems a bit of a shame I guess and I was surprised that it was happening and taking PSAs away from other classes where they are needed.

OP’s posts: |
Balfe Mon 04-Dec-17 18:43:27

Usually in this scenario one parent 'helper' has done something stupid and everyone ends up missing out.

MushroomSoup Mon 04-Dec-17 19:05:00

I was in charge of a coach trip recently and a child (aged 6) had fallen asleep without her seatbelt on. Her mum was on the trip as a parent helper, sitting next to her. I asked her to do her belt up and she said, ‘no, leave it, she’s asleep.’

I had to insist that she woke her daughter and put her belt on her as it was unsafe. Mum kept saying ‘I’m her Mum and I’m saying it’s fine.’

I told her my head would have my guts for garters if I broke the rules and she did it - very reluctantly.

Parent helpers are either BRILLIANT or NIGHTMARES!

HonestTeacher Mon 04-Dec-17 19:25:12

Our school asks parents to help out on school trips. Most parent helpers are fab and are great with the children. Some will only concern themself with their own child and forget about all the other children in their group. I've known of two occasions when a parent has left one of the children in their group unsupervised and alone shock Perhaps something similar happened at your school which has ruined it for all the amazing parent helpers. It is annoying but reassuring to know that when your child is on a trip they will be supervised by a professional.

PeaceLoveAndDixie Mon 04-Dec-17 19:43:30

I’ve been a parent helper on several trips and we have to be DBS checked however, as a PP mentioned, that doesn’t mean that all parents are capable of supervising small groups. I’ve seen a parent just step off a crowded train without even a backwards glance to see if her group were following her shock

FrayedHem Mon 04-Dec-17 20:03:23

DC school had an overhaul after a Really Bad Ofsted. They hadn't been doing DBS or pre-employment checks on staff(!). They do need parent helpers for swimming (can't be done without volunteers), so now there is a course the volunteer parents go on and a DBS has to be done. For school trips they ask for parent volunteers that have a DBS done via the school.

Last year, there was a bring your mother/auntie/stepmother/grandmother etc to school for the morning event. The school saod that the invitee had to have photo ID to be allowed to attend. As my driving license was away (photocard expired) and my passport was out of date and in my maiden name I couldn't go. They have since relaxed on the ID requirements for subsequent events.

Twitchingdog Mon 04-Dec-17 20:03:32

I hope All you that are happy there are paid staff on trip. Means that classes are losing their TA and that means any kids thar need thst extra bit of help are not getting it .
Which offen means a not good place of learning for the rest of the class

TheGreaterGoodTheGreaterGood Mon 04-Dec-17 20:08:32

And it also means that the risks to children on a trip are minimised as they are accompanied by trained adults who are guaranteed to look out for all the children, Twitchingdog

AlexanderHamilton Mon 04-Dec-17 20:11:15

My Ds is one of those that needs a bit of extra help (asd). Trips are when he would need trained staff rather than volunteer helpers the most.

museumum Mon 04-Dec-17 20:17:19

I imagine PSAs are far better at imposing discipline on a group of students and/or leading educational activities outside the classroom.
Trips shouldn’t really be jollies with a family feel.

spanieleyes Mon 04-Dec-17 20:51:18

I once had a parent volunteer light up a cigarette whilst holding a child's hand in a line. She seemed bemused when I said that we didn't smoke on school trips!

Norestformrz Tue 05-Dec-17 05:12:17

You only need a DBS if you will have unsupervised access to the children during the trip

Screening School Volunteers
Whether you are required to have a DBS background screening test or not depends on whether you will have regulated activity with a child and how often you will be volunteering.

If you will be volunteering at a school once a week or more, on 4 days within any 30 day period or overnight, you will be expected to agree to an enhanced DBS check. However, if you will be volunteering for a one off event, checks are at the school’s discretion.

There are some exceptions where you will also have to have an enhanced DBS check and the barred list should be consulted. These include, if you will be helping an ill or disabled child eat or drink, go to the toilet, wash or dress and if you will be providing health care to children.

If you will have unsupervised contact with children for any period of time you will also be required to have your name checked against the barred list to make sure you haven’t been banned from working with young people or children.

Volunteers who will be communicating with children by telephone or internet on a regular basis will also need these in-depth checks.

Where I teach nursery and reception parents can accompany their own child on trips (not other people's child) but in other Year groups we use staff.

BuggerOffAndGoodDayToYou Tue 05-Dec-17 11:28:40

When I was just a parent I did go on trips but I was fully checked (CRB in those days). Now I work in a school which never uses parents.

Ratio rules have changed recently so that may be part of the reason or they may have been complaints from other parents about non checked volunteers.

AuntieStella Tue 05-Dec-17 11:39:27

In our primary, they asked for parent volunteers for trips in KS1, but KS2 was done by staff. In KS1, that took the ratios to above the required minimum, which was nice and reassuring all round. I was wondering if it could be a case of your DC being in an older age group, rather than it being a change of policy.

SaturnUranus Tue 05-Dec-17 11:51:12

Our school uses just staff if at all possible. They will usually know all of the children at least fairly well. They will also know the school's policies on things like seat belts, first aid, toilet visits etc. Sometimes there just aren't enough staff available (training courses or staff illness) and they will ask the parents who already have a DBS check from volunteering in school.

It's rare for a parent to go on their own child's trip though. It will usually be the ones who already help out in class with that year group or the ones who normally do the weekly visits to the local library and so know how to deal with things like crossing roads with a large group of children.

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