A sensible approach to adventure training
IOSH awards 2010
Bedford Girl's School in Bedford is an independent day school educating girls aged between 7 and 18 years. The school comprises a Junior School and a Senior School with approximately 850 girls in total.
The school runs, on average, 250 educational visits and trips per year. These trips range from one day trips to a museum right through to overseas, residential, adventure trips such as skiing and World Challenge type trips.
TripSafely approached the school to run a pilot scheme to help develop our online school trip management system. Jean-Marc Hodgkin, Bedford Girls School's Bursar said. "TripSafely's proposal looked ideal. We were finding that although we felt our educational visits were being run safely, the existing system was unwieldy and involved a lot of time and paperwork. The online system will make it easier for staff to plan and manage trips."
The TripSafely system was originally based on the British Standard for adventurous overseas activities, BS 8848. This standard was developed to enable organisations planning this type of trip to effectively consider all of the factors necessary for ensuring a trip could be undertaken safely in a cost effective and structured way.
TripSafely conducted a gap analysis of the school's systems compared with BS 8848 and identified where improved processes could be introduced. We then developed a management system based on the gap analysis, and other publicly available guidance on operating schools trips i.e. DCSF Guidance. This formed the basis of the pilot scheme.
"Whilst in the planning stages, we quickly identified that BS 8848 only covered about five percent of the trips that we organised." Jean-Marc added. "We sat down with Mark Rastrick of TripSafely and worked through the types of trip we operated and came up with 6 basic types."
TripSafely took the relevant sections of BS 8848 and combined this with the DCSF guidance to ensure that the management system complied with both. The necessary templates were created for users to complete. These were designed to be relevant to the type of trip being run, thereby reducing unnecessary paperwork and time spent completing them.
All of the information from the pilot scheme was then used by TripSafely's designer to produce the online system. Only the relevant sections were used for each type of trip making the online system much more user friendly. When working through the online system, the user completes necessary fields and at various stages has to seek approval from the Head Teacher. Approval cannot be sought until all the necessary fields have been completed and the user cannot progress through the system until approval has been given. This gives the user, school leadership team and parents the confidence that trips are being planned effectively. Additional benefits are that information can be scanned into the system and stored, because the system is online and it can be accessed from any computer with internet access anywhere in the world, even via mobile and satellite phones with internet access. This reduces the amount of paperwork that has to be taken on the trip, however all information is available within the system to download and print. The system also has contingency plans to help the user and their home contacts work through emergency situations.
"Teachers no longer need to take masses of paper with them on the trips and as one of the home contacts for emergency situations. I don't have to take a huge folder with details of every trip that is away from school with me everywhere I go." said Jean-Marc. "Our Educational Visits Coordinator (EVC) can now spend more time helping teachers plan trips, rather than chasing them for paperwork.
TripSafely provides full training in the use of the system and funding is currently available to cover the cost of this training, which is included in the price of the system.
"We now have the confidence that we can access the system at any time to monitor what trips are being planned, by whom and at what stage of the planning process they are at without wading through mountains of paperwork." concluded Jean-Marc.