Leading article: Accidents will happen

The fact that children are missing out on adventurous school trips because of teachers' fears of being sued if students are injured is a sad indictment of our society. A report by the education watchdog Ofsted this week warned that too many schools were failing to take pupils on trips despite the obvious social and physical benefits to young people. Activities such as caving, rock climbing and canoeing are ideal ways to teach children teamwork and leadership as well as getting them to test their physical skills in new and challenging situations. But fear of litigation is making teachers extremely reluctant to take children on such excursions. The result is a "marked narrowing" of the curriculum and the creation of a generation that is forced to spend school days doing "safe" activities in the classroom.

David Bell, the chief inspector of schools in England, says that teachers have nothing to fear so long as they obey government safety guidelines. In his defence he cites figures from a government taskforce showing that compensation claims have fallen over the past school year. But the second biggest teaching union disagrees. The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers is advising all its members never to take children on trips, claiming that it deals with many cases every year where teachers face terrifying legal claims because of accidents. The reason may be that a number of high-profile cases have struck fear into the hearts of school staff.

There is no question that safety guidelines are vital and must always be followed. But, however carefully a trip is organised, accidents can always happen. Perhaps in a world in which people are much more aware of their rights we should not be surprised that more and more staff are reluctant to take the risk.

But if we as a nation we want our children to have the kind of "memorable journeys" described in Bell's report, then we need to readdress the balance between safety and adventure. The number of compensation claims may have dropped over the past year, but fear among teachers of being sued has not. More must be down to allay teachers' fears. But parents must trust teachers, and all must accept that sometimes accidents do happen. Sometimes nobody is to blame.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
Life and Style
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day supply

£110 - £130 per day + Competitve rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Yea...

Year 4 Teachers needed for day to day supply across the region

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Nursery Teachers needed for supply roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Nu...

Maths Teachers needed for roles across Berkshire

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ar...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits