3 Ways to Make Your Next Overseas School Trip Safer

Posted on: 7 July 2016

The logistics of organising a school trip abroad can be so hectic that many schools neglect the importance of safety in favour of seemingly more pressing issues, such as budgeting and bookings. In reality, as with any situation involving children, security and safety are paramount on these trips. Extra care should be taken to ensure that students aren't exposed to the unique hazards and dangers that come with travelling. Here are 3 ways to make your next overseas school trip safer.

First Aid Training for All Supervisors

On day trips or residential trips that don't involve leaving Australia, it's common to ensure there are one or two supervisors or chaperones who are trained in first aid. Some schools apply this rule to trips abroad too, but this is a very risky practice. Injury is the leading cause of death in Australian children, and many injuries can be dealt with using basic first aid procedures. While injuries can happen anywhere, remember that foreign medical systems can be difficult to make sense of, especially if you don't speak the local language. Plus, what if your class splits up into smaller groups? What if there is an accident involving multiple pupils who all need first aid at once? Booking first aid courses for every staff member who will be supervising students on the trip is the best way to ensure everyone will have immediate access to basic medical care.

Information Packs for Staff and Students

Many school trips begin with the head of the trip relaying the rules and regulations to staff and students. The assumption is that everyone will remember what they've been told, but this isn't always the case. Many people -- especially children -- don't have great memories and can forget crucial pieces of information. To avoid this, print out info packs for both staff and students on the trip. In the student packs, include information about the culture and customs of the country, specific precautions they should take in the area, emergency phone numbers, behaviour expectations, and what to do in the event of certain crises (such as being separated from the rest of the class). In the staff packs, remind supervisors of the timetables, room assignments, rules on lights out and gender segregation, emergency procedures, disciplinary procedures, and any other relevant info. Make sure you print spares, as some people are bound to lose theirs.

Carefully Chosen Room Assignments

Room assignments can cause a lot of commotion on residential trips abroad. Some kids want to stay with their friends. Others have feuds with the people they've been assigned to stay with. The most important thing is that you have safety in mind when choosing rooms. Think carefully about the layout. The first thing to note is that ground floor rooms are not an ideal choice, as these allow easier access to intruders (or students sneaking out). However, don't forget that rooms on higher floors may have balconies or may lack fire exits, and this requires extra safety instruction. You should also take care to keep boys' and girls' sleep areas as separate as possible, especially for pubescent and post-pubescent students. Remember that staff rooms should be spaced evenly throughout groups of student rooms. It's best that any student who requires extra care (for example, those with illnesses or night terrors) is placed in a room close to a staff member's so they can easily get help if need be.