Introduction to Teaching

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All children are a precious gift, teachers have a legal and ethical responsibility to protect the most valuable asset entrusted into their charge. The Government of Western Australia Department of Education (WA DoE) has seen a clear necessitation for policies, documents which provide a guide of roles and responsibilities to provide knowledge and tools to the teacher on what is expected so that the teacher can strategise and implement acceptable action plans for the best interest of the child. A School Excursion, an off school site learning activity, is an opportunity to broaden learning and social horizons whilst adding substance to the curriculum and achieving educational goals. The WA DoE has recognized that school excursions can provide opportunities that expand knowledge, abilities and attitudes, however, learning must be in a safe environment and with off school site activity there is increased risk and it has provided a policy as a support text for its teachers, it provides a platform for the very minimum care expected. In this report, through examination of the WA DoE Excursions: Off School Site Activities (WA Excursions Policy) it is examined why it is important and how it’s creation provided clear procedures to be adhered to in the planning and management of Excursions. Also following is an analysis of three scenarios that may arise on an excursion identifying issues and determination of specific action plans in accordance to the WA Excursions Policy to ensure the best outcome for all parties. The WA Excursions Policy became effective 1 July 2003 and it is applicable to all WA DoE employees as well as the circumstance where volunteers, helpers and external providers are caregivers. The aim of the policy is to ensure that all adults involved with the supervision of children know that the safety and welfare of the participants is of paramount importance and awareness of possible hazards gives the ability to avoid them or have strategies to act on them appropriately. The secondary aim for the WA Excursions Policy is; to assist schools achieve their legal requirements as having clear procedural guidelines in place minimises potential for litigation. The WA Excursions Policy requires that careful advance planning of the excursion is undertaken and an Excursion Management Plan in place, there must be a teacher-in-charge and the very minimum to give approval for the school excursion is the School Principal. There must be assessment of risk potential in relation to; the environment, transport arrangements, supervision, emergency response planning, communication strategies and student identification methods, they must determine the student’s capacity in relation to the activities and venue and evaluate the skill level and roles of the teachers, helpers and external providers. Prior to the excursion, detailed information including cost and transport arrangements must be provided to parents/guardians and consent granted. The policy also identifies circumstances of non-attending students and possible alternatives for these students. A secondary aim to have a policy is to address legal and ethical safety for the school as well as personal wellbeing for the child. Unfortunately, there is a litigious undercurrent in school communities; people are quick to lay blame and pursue their rights legally. The policy provides the opportunity to have clear guidelines with which its implementation, appropriate risk assessments undertaken and well considered action plans promotes uniformity and reduces the opportunity for negligence; “policy has been created so that with an active implementation of a risk management plan a school can successfully resist litigation” (Tronc, 2004). Whilst WA DoE can provide policies, they have to be actively implemented by the schools to be effective. The Excursions Policy has been provided by WA DoE to highlight the necessitation of risk assessment in the higher risk opportunity of a school excursion. It...
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