WA Excursion Policy: Off school site activities document analysis
This intention of this report is to analyse the Western Australian (WA) Excursions: Off school site activities policy document and discuss action plans for three potential scenarios. Effective 1 July 2003, (Western Australian Department of Education, (WA DoE), 2003) the rationale behind the policy is to set out and provide principals, teachers, and supervisors from both government and privately run schools with consistent, comprehensive standards and expectations whilst being off school grounds. The WA school excursion policy, written by the Western Australian Department of Education recognises that a well planned, properly managed and curriculum aligned off site school excursion can contribute to the educational benefits for a student. (WA DoE, 2003, p.4 2.1)
With an excursion not being a regular occurrence in a school year, and therefore a variation to the routine of a typical school day. It is essential to note that with any variation to a routine and environment, that there is an increase in the potential of risks and hazards. (WA DoE, 2003, p.4 2.1) Especially, when students are in the public arena and the actions of others cannot be determined. In addition, schools have a moral obligation to provide a ‘duty of care’ to their students on and offsite school grounds. The care provided by the teacher/s-in-charge essentially needs to be increased in relation to these newfound potential risks. (Department of Education, Training, and Employment, (DETE), 2013) Hence, the importance of using such a policy in today’s teaching environment.
With the education and safety of students being paramount, schools are bound by common law to protect students, teachers, and others. (DETE, 2013). It is therefore not only health and safety concerns of students’, but a legal requirement to demonstrate that an excursion’s are planned efficiently, managed and risk assessed. (Tronc, K. 2004) In the event of an emergency, effective planning minimises the risk of confusion and empowers teachers to make informed decisions. Furthermore, by adhering to the key points in the WA school excursion policy, the school is thus reducing the chances of a costly and lengthy litigation if a court deems that the school has not breached its duties. (Tronc, K. 2004).
Key points of the policy include information on assessing risks in relation to; the environment of the excursion, transportation of participants, a students’ capacity; in relation to health, skill level and cultural requirements, establishing the skills of the supervisor/supervisory team and competency levels of involvement by external providers. The policy then provides guidelines on; establishing supervision strategies, providing information and seeking consent from parents, developing communication strategies, emergency response planning, briefing students and supervisors, records that need to be retained, gaining approvals for excursions; whether it be interstate or international and then makes note on privately arranged activities.
The parents of a student are experiencing financial difficulties and cannot afford to pay for their child to participate in the excursion.
Whilst the policy does not give advise pertaining to financial hardship, the policy does clearly state, “Where financial hardship is understood to be the reason for a student’s non-participation, schools should endeavour to provide financial assistance”. (WA DoE, 2003, p.11) It would be fair however to assume, that before an excursion is planned that the related costs would have already been deemed as reasonable and affordable and approved by the principal to allow students to participate. (NSW Government, Education & Communities, 2009). Hence, it would stand to reason that if a parent was under financial burden due to the excursion, then the appropriate course of action would be to discuss their...