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NZSTA says don’t ban school camps

NZSTA says don’t ban school camps

Boards of trustees are being urged to stay positive about offering outdoor education opportunities to their students and not to wrap them up in cotton wool.

NZSTA President Chris France says he is concerned at reports that some principals are saying they are pulling back on outdoor education because they are worried about liability if something should go wrong.

“People are citing changes in the legislation as a reason to ban the camps but in reality nothing at all has changed. If schools are careful and take all reasonable steps to ensure safety, they can still offer these important experiences to their students without putting themselves at legal risk.

“Boards know they must plan these events carefully and make risk assessments – not just to satisfy the rules but because these are their children and they want to ensure they are kept safe.”

He says there is no way to totally eliminate a risk and even in the most cossetted environment children may experience injury. Schools follow well-tested procedures to plan these activities and would only face legal liability if shown to have been negligent in identifying a risk and then not doing anything about it.

“Keeping students safe should not mean eliminating completely the challenges of experiencing the outdoors – camping, tramping, kayaking – all those opportunities available to us as New Zealanders.”

Chris France says outdoor education is an important part of a school’s curriculum.

“For some students, it may be the only time they experience the bush or other outdoor activities.”

Chris France says guidelines for education outside the classroom have been sent to all schools. The guidelines provide a good practice guide for schools.

“Activities like school camps and museum trips are part of our school life. We need to keep the issue in perspective for the sake of our students.”

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