Re: ‘When death is corporate fault’ by Georgina Fuller. TES April 4th 2008
We are writing to express our deep concern about your misleading and inaccurate article on corporate manslaughter (TES 4th April).
In particular we wish to protest about the negative and alarmist view of school trips that was presented in the piece.
The writer asserted that school trips are ‘potentially hazardous’. This is a nonsensical statement; all human activity is potentially hazardous. The evidence is that school trips are safe. The few fatal accidents that occur are newsworthy not only because of the tragedy, but because they are so rare; the statistics show that children are actually at more risk at home in their beds.
In contrast the value of learning outside the classroom has been demonstrated time and time again, with a wealth of academic research to support the need for more young people to participate.
Your article was also deeply misleading about the new legal situation. The new legislation brings in new sanctions, but there are no new duties, no new requirements on schools. Schools can ensure safe practice simply by following existing legislation and guidance.
A prosecution under the new legislation would follow only if a school were guilty of gross ignorance or inattention, or acted recklessly, with a complete disregard to the risk. And vicarious liability does not apply; a rogue employee would not land a governing body or local authority in court; a prosecution would have to show that senior managers or governors had been complicit in the risk, and had condoned or even promoted unsafe practices.
The inaccurate but widely held perception that school trips are in some way exceptionally dangerous is one of the barriers to wider pupil participation in out of classroom learning. We are deeply disappointed that The TES has seen fit to run the kind of scaremongering copy that will inevitably reinforce that inaccurate perception.
Phil Revell – Chief Executive National Governors’ Association