I was listening to a phone-in on the radio this week concerning school outings. The question posed was: 'Would you allow your child to go on a school field trip?' Almost all the parents said they would providing the school prepared for 'every eventuality.'
One caller stated she would expect the staff to 'guarantee' the safety of her child and I wondered just how she thought this could be done.
Later in the week I discussed this with a teacher friend of mine who showed me a 17-page risk assessment she must complete before taking her class outside the school grounds. One slip or omission and she could find herself defending a damaging lawsuit.
Another caller on the show said, "I think it is an important part of my child's education to go on field trips and I would be prepared to give the school my consent on a number of conditions.'
She was 'prepared to give the school her consent' wasn't that generous of her? It obviously didn't occur to any of these parents that maybe the teachers would withhold 'their consent' and refuse to take their kids anywhere.
As a child I loved school trips, they were a great opportunity to run around in woods and fields or try some new activity. The teachers kept a strict eye on things but if you fell in a stream or banged your head it was just part of the experience.
This was where we, as children learned to make our own risk assessments. Of course there were cuts and bruises and I recall the odd broken arm but relationships between staff and pupils were always greatly enhanced by these outings.
But why would any teacher volunteer to take a class on an excursion today? With parental expectations so high, no extra pay and lots of legal complications it's a no win situation.
Given the compensation culture, opportunistic parents and greedy solicitors can you honestly see any good reason for teachers to jeopardise their careers by supervising school trips? With every cut and bruise scrutinised for a negligence claim and a myriad of rules and regulations to observe it's a thankless task.
Of course no one expects kids to be taken out to sea without life jackets or left dangling on a rock face without qualified supervision but today even a game of conkers is regarded as a high-risk activity.
If schools are expected to cover and 'guarantee' every eventuality maybe they should leave it to the parents to organise their own trips?
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of wilmslow.co.uk.