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Parents Required on School Trip

(28 Posts)
IndigoBell Mon 17-Oct-11 09:17:14

I'm reviewing school policy, and want to know whether it's legal to say that if school feel they can't keep a child safe without their parent there, then they won't be allowed on a school trip.

ie school has done a health and safety assessment, and think that even if they assign a TA 1:1 to a child they still present a danger (won't follow instructions immediately for a TA or will run off), and so they require a parent to come else the child can't go.

Is this legal?

IndigoBell Mon 17-Oct-11 09:54:26

Ok, so the DDA says:

Discrimination arising from disability can only be justified if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

The legitimate aim is keeping the child safe. So requiring the parent attend could be argued as 'proportionate means'?

So it sounds like it's legal?

discodad Mon 17-Oct-11 10:11:29

I don't think you can have a blanket policy. From ACE guidance:

My son has Autistic Spectrum Disorder. He has been told that he cant go on a school trip, as he is a health and safety risk.

This may be a case of Disability Discrimination. Your child may not be treated less favourably than other children for a reason connected with his disability. This would apply if the behaviour the school is worried about is a direct consequence of his Autism. You need to find out exactly why the school consider he is a risk. Have they carried out a full risk assessment of the activity? Have they looked at staffing and whether extra help could be provided? There are some cases in which less favourable treatment may be justified, but the school should not issue a blanket ban on your son going on the trip.


Triggles Mon 17-Oct-11 10:15:15

I think though, to some extent, you have to examine the particulars of both the child and the trip. I can see in some instances where the school would be very uncomfortable taking DS2 on some trips, whereas others (like their recent farm trip) can be dealt with just fine with a few adjustments to keep him safe.

Is this regarding a particular trip? Or just a query in general?

PipinJo Mon 17-Oct-11 10:16:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lechildrenofthecornsilk Mon 17-Oct-11 10:17:50

IPSEA have an article here

IndigoBell Mon 17-Oct-11 10:18:32

It's not a blanket policy.

The policy is that if they've done a risk assessment, and think on this particular trip, for this particular child they're worried about his safety (even with a TA as 1:1), then they'll require his parent to attend.

Sounds reasonable to me.

appropriatelytrained Mon 17-Oct-11 10:20:43

The Equality Act, as it now is, permits the balancing act regarding proportionality you suggest but I would suggest that there is no need to articulate this in a policy document. However, all other reasonable measures would have to be tried first for the sake of inclusion e.g. extra staffing, shorter trip, requesting parent attend (rather than compelling).

It is very much an individual matter and I think you would find that the law anticipates that such occurences would be extremely rare situations.

I think to set this out in a policy allows schools to think about using that policy to exclude children rather than make the efforts to include.

I am not saying your school would, but, inclusion and safety are competing aims in very rare situations and the school's corporate mind should always be thinking of ways to include rather than reasons to 'eexclude' without a parent.

It's a question of balance and emphasis

IndigoBell Mon 17-Oct-11 10:24:06

X posted.

Thanks everyone.

I get the impression that the parents have been asked onto the trip and have refused, which is why the policy has to be reviewed.

I don't know the kids or the parents or the trip.

I just have to be happy (or not) to sign the policy.

I also know the school is inclusive. They asked me on a trip with DS last year, and I refused because I felt I made things worse, and school agreed with me. So I know this is not their default position.

appropriatelytrained Mon 17-Oct-11 10:27:22

Cross-posted - I think you would have to word this very carefully Indigo.

I think once you are establishing a policy which permits children to be excluded from trips in certain circumstances. This may be an invitation to some to do this because they cannot be bothered to find the extra resources or support. School have this power anyway but it is a rare situation where safety will be allowed to trump inclusion.

If you want to make it clear in a policy, you would have to couch the language in individual terms and talk about prioritising inclusion, every reasonable effort being made, open discussion in advance with parents/carers etc

IndigoBell Mon 17-Oct-11 10:29:24

AT - I'm not sure if it counts as a policy or not. It's an agenda item for the governing body to discuss.

GBs can't discuss specific pupils, so it feel's like a policy decision, in that the GB have to approve school to make this stipulation when the GB don't know the exact circumstances.

Extra staffing is not the issue. This is for kids who aren't compliant enough for any staff to feel safe taking them on the London tube. Parents have been requested to attend.

So this is the next step, when parents refuse to attend, and staff don't believe they can keep a child safe.

IndigoBell Mon 17-Oct-11 10:30:32

AT - agree. Wording is key.

appropriatelytrained Mon 17-Oct-11 10:30:40

I would also place clear restrictions on the use of the power to insist parents attend, e.g. head teacher's authorisation after discussion with parents, discussions with LA inclusion team etc.

The child's right to be included is the key thing to focus on and not any difficulties with parents.

How do you make sure a policy doesn't detrimentally disadvantage the child - not how do you make sure parents are forced on a trip.

It's about emphasis

Ben10WasTheSpawnNowWeLoveLego Mon 17-Oct-11 10:33:45

To me it feels right. At the most drastic, no teacher wants to be in charge if a child lacks the control even with a 1:1 not to jump off the platform at Oxford Circus...

appropriatelytrained Mon 17-Oct-11 10:34:55

I know from your previous posts that your school sounds very helpful and inclusive and so I appreciate that it must be a genuine problem.

Is that true about GBs not discussing individual children? A member of the GB attended the interview for DS's TA.

The SEN Governor also attended meetings with the head and us.

At the end of last term, before we left, the head demanded I attend a meeting with her and her Chair of Govs (wanting to tell me off/bully me to back off for pointing out they were failing to put DS's provision in place).

silverfrog Mon 17-Oct-11 10:40:31

I am unsure about this.

I have a fairly (at times) non-compliant child. I would not want to go on school trips as a matter of course (or hav the school able to exclude her if I did not go).

what would the parent be adding to the situation that no one else could? I know a parent knows the child best etc etc, but the policy would be saying, essentially that only the parent can control the child. and I do not agree with that.

in the case of Ben's example - what would a parnt do to stop a child jumping off the platform, that a TA (or 2) couldn't? because if a parent going along makes it ok, and the child can be controlled (for want of a better expression) - why can the TAs not manage this?

there are, of course, situations where a child may never be controlled - eg if dd1's school had a trip to Crufts, then she would go wild (literally) - it would make no difference if there were several tutors with her, or me, or me and dh - the trip is not suitable for her, and for her safety (and sanity!) she should not go. but if a situation can be envisaged where the child will be ok if the parent is there, I am struggling to see (with a cooperative, inclusive school) why the school could not recreate that situation.

IndigoBell Mon 17-Oct-11 10:42:35

GBs are never allowed to discuss individual children or staff - unless it's a formal complaint or grievance or a child being expelled.

Govs are allowed to interview staff - although normally they'd only interview HTs or deptuy HTs. They should not really be interviewing TAs.

And you can certainly request the SEN governor attend a meeting with you - but I don't think they can attend without your permission.

I don't think a HT can demand you meet with the chair of govs (but I'm not sure)

IndigoBell Mon 17-Oct-11 10:44:32

SilverFrog - this is actually my feeling, and I will be questioning very carefully why a TA cannot control the child.

silverfrog Mon 17-Oct-11 10:54:41

it would also make me question the school's ability to deal with my child genrally, tbh.

dd1 is off on a trip today, and I have no qualms whatsoever. she's only been at the school for 5 weeks, nd of course the trip means a total break of routine, but I trust that ehr tutors, and the class leader, know what they are doing in including her.

if I had to question her safety, or if I was asked ot come along to keep her safe, I would absolutely be questioning whether:

they knew dd1 well enough to know whether she should go on trips
they knew dd1 well enough to keep her safe in unpredictable situations at school
I trusted their judgement on the above.

and I would probably therefore end up looking ot improve her provision in some way - tighten up a statement, make sure TAs had appropriate (professional, not LA 2-hour induction stuff) training etc.

becasue, overall, if a school is not confidant that they can handle my dd1, then they need to do some more learning and training themselves.

Ben10WasTheSpawnNowWeLoveLego Mon 17-Oct-11 10:56:09

Silverfrog You are right. I think I was thinking more that if the parent was there then the teachers might consider that an incident wasn't "on their watch" so to speak.

IndigoBell Mon 17-Oct-11 10:57:59

Thanks SilverFrog. I think you're 100% right.

silverfrog Mon 17-Oct-11 11:07:01

oh, btw - none of the above applies if eg the school know what to do, but for whatever reason are short staffed.

in that case, i would be happy to be asked along as a parent helper, but to help with another set of children, not just be handed my child to contain while everyone else goes about their business... but as you say that it is not a case of not being able to find the staff, then that would not necessarily apply.

r3dh3d Mon 17-Oct-11 11:07:31

Yes, I'm agreeing with SF.

It sounds to me as if school are in a difficult position here and trying to use "writing a policy document" as a band-aid, with the aim of fixing this particular situation and not with the aim of producing a good policy.

I can see there's a problem if there's one kid who can't access a particular activity safely and the majority of kids can access it and would benefit from it. And I don't know what the right answer is, except that maybe sometimes it IS ok and it is NOT discriminatory to say a child can't go on a particular trip. DD1's school participates in annual ski trips. Though they are trying to widen the accessibility of the trip, I don't believe DD1 will ever go on it. That's OK with me. I mean, I would like her to go, but I think it's so obviously going to be a nightmare to take her that it's not realistic.

If a kid is properly unsafe loose in London, he shouldn't go to London. And I think it's only discriminatory not to take him if eg there was a way of making it safe for him, or if all/frequent trips were to places not safe for him. Palming the evident risk off on the parents may cover the school's arse, legally, but it makes a crap policy and it doesn't solve the real problem. School are clearly hoping the parents can't come and so they get out of both the risk of taking him and the risk of being seen to discriminate. But what if the parents come along on this ill-advised jaunt and he chucks himself under a tube? Will the trip organiser really just think complacently: "well, it's not my problem, it was the parents' responsibility to keep him safe"? No. They'd be devastated because they would know it was still morally their responsibility. Because the child should not have been there and the policy didn't fix that.

IndigoBell Mon 17-Oct-11 11:18:32

School are clearly hoping the parents can't come - No, school want the parent to come.

There may well be more going on here, for example the parent may not realise how bad the child is at school and won't let the child be seen by the EP which is stopping the kid from getting a statement.

Or it may be for a child who is half way through the statementing process so that they're anticipating getting a dedicated TA (who the child is comfortable with) but don't have one yet.

Or it may be that 5 weeks into term the kids isn't yet comfortable with any of the staff.

Or it may be that the child is obsessed with tubes.

So there may be a reason which I consider valid.

It's got to be something out of the ordinary to be brought up at a govs meeting. Because it's never been brought up before.

silverfrog Mon 17-Oct-11 11:24:14

maybe you need a policy that reads something like:

school will try XYZ to include the child on a trip, but if all else fails, and in extraordinary situations where there is no other solution, parents may be asked to accompany their child on the trip

where XYZ is stuff like dedicated 1:1; extra TA; extra training; differentiated travel plans (where feasible) etc.

I owuld not mind a policy like that as much - as long as I trusted the school to do XYZ, and not just fall back on the "extra ordinary situation" clause all the time.

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