Educational School Trips are on the cards again

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Young people queuing for a plane

Since the Department of Education changed their advice in July 2021, educational trips abroad can once again be planned for English schools. They do however remain subject to prevailing travel advice and as such plans can still change at relatively short notice as was evidenced with the pre-Christmas changes to entry requirements to France.

School trips can include the traditional ski trip during Spring half term or Easter holidays and summer activity trips later in the school year.

According to School Travel Forum it can take between 9-12 months to plan and organise a successful school trip.

What considerations do I need to bear in mind if a school trip is on the cards?

Schools will generally use one of a number of tour companies that specialise in school trips. Looking at their websites, many are conscious of the current situation and additional concerns that both schools and parents may have when considering whether such trips are appropriate.

The School Travel Forum, Welcome to the School Travel Forum, a non-profit professional trade association promotes school travel and works with ABTA, the School Travel sector Stakeholder Group and the Foreign Office to provide accurate information to members.

It is fair to say that everyone is keen for life to return to normal and this includes giving children the opportunity to travel and experience another culture, expand their horizons and of course put their foreign language skills into practice.

Many specialist tour operators are offering financial protection should the trip need to change due to changes in Covid restrictions.

Finding the right insurance for a school trip

Suitable travel insurance is also vitally important and many of the insurance policies offered alongside the trips have enhanced protection in respect of cancellation and medical expenses due to Covid.

It is important that any insurance policy also covers needs of parents of those travelling, the school itself and teachers and students. For example, the policy should cover a parent who is required to travel to resort as a result of accident or illness. This can be required if a child is unable to return with the school group and teachers are required to return with the group as planned. The school will also require cover if they need to find a replacement leading member of staff to travel for any reason.

Policies proposed with the trip should provide suitable cover for all activities that are to be undertaken. This is particularly important with activity holidays where a standard family policy that may already be in place with an individual family may not provide sufficient cover for certain activities that are included with the trip.

It is also worth checking with the school itself whether they have any other insurance cover in place, such as under a commercial policy.

Whilst it is important to have sufficient travel insurance, it is also important to ensure that your child has either an existing valid EHIC or UK Global Health Insurance Card which can be applied for on the NHS website free of charge.

Electrical items have increased in value and replacement costs can be high. Therefore, check the limit on individual items that is in place either on your own policy or on the policy provided with the trip. Review the terms of your own travel insurance policy to establish whether any child will be covered if they are travelling on their own on a school trip rather than with adults in the household covered under the policy.

You should also check passport validity given the issues that have been reported in the press recently regarding airlines taking an enthusiastic interpretation on entry requirements to the EU. If a new passport is required, waiting times are exceptionally long at the moment and it would be wise to make any application sooner rather than later.

Covid testing requirements

Covid is still very much with us and you must bear in mind any Covid test requirements that may be in place in the destination and on return to the UK. These requirements are constantly changing and the school and / or travel organiser should provide up to date information in this respect. If the trip is not until later this year or even indeed next year, it is almost certain that different requirements will be in place then than now. Requirements in respect of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may vary and should be checked separately.

The cost of PCR tests can vary enormously and depending on the number of siblings travelling can add hundreds of pounds to the cost of the trip and should be factored into any plans.

Helpful sources of information

Other sources of information to consider are the Department of Education and their guidance which can be found here.

The FCDO website is also worth reviewing as it contains useful and up to date information in light of Covid-19 and other issues that may arise from time to time.

Travel abroad from England during coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

School trips should be a fun learning experience however accidents can happen. If you or a member of your family has sustained injury whilst on a school trip one of our legal experts will be happy to speak with you and discuss how we may be able to assist.

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