CAMP’S OUT FOR KIDS

Red tape forces schools to end ex­cur­sions

The Courier-Mail - - FRONT PAGE - LAU­REN MARTYN-JONES

QUEENS­LAND kids are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly deskbound as schools cut back on ex­cur­sions and out­door ac­tiv­i­ties be­cause of red tape and cur­ricu­lum pres­sures. Prin­ci­pals say risk as­sess­ment de­mands have be­come too com­pli­cated.

Some pri­vate schools are even pur­chas­ing spe­cially de­signed soft­ware prod­ucts to help them man­age the com­plex­i­ties of their ex­cur­sion pa­per­work.

Les­lie Sin­gle, the pres­i­dent of the Queens­land As­so­ci­a­tion of State School Prin­ci­pals, has called for the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion to look at stream­lin­ing the ex­cur­sion ap­proval process that is man­aged through the gov­ern­ment’s One School por­tal.

“I am not say­ing for one mo­ment we don’t need to keep stu­dents safe, that is our ut­most re­spon­si­bil­ity, but it has be­come very dif­fi­cult to get stu­dents out of the class­room and this has the po­ten­tial to nar­row or limit their learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Ms Sin­gle said.

Queens­land Sec­ondary Prin­ci­pals As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Mark Breck­en­ridge said the over­crowded school cur­ricu­lum was also mak­ing teach­ers think twice about spend­ing a day on an ex­cur­sion.

“The re­al­ity is ex­cur­sions are im­por­tant be­cause not all learn­ing is done in­side the school grounds,” he said.

Queens­land Teach­ers Union pres­i­dent Kevin Bates said the con­stant up­dat­ing and broad­en­ing of the cur­ricu­lum is squeez­ing out ex­cur­sion time.

“If we con­tinue to add all of th­ese things into the cur­ricu­lum the space for th­ese en­rich­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties can al­most be im­pos­si­ble to find,” he said.

Ed­u­ca­tion aca­demic Kevin Don­nelly said teach­ers, par­tic­u­larly in pri­mary school, had been scared off ex­cur­sions be­cause of red tape and the fear of lit­i­ga­tion.

Pri­vate com­pa­nies are also jump­ing in, of­fer­ing prod­ucts to help them nav­i­gate the risk as­sess­ment process.

Richard McFad­den said he cre­ated Con­sen­t2Go af­ter he saw the num­ber of ex­cur­sions plum­met n the UK be­cause of OH&S is­sues. The prod­uct is cur­rently be­ing used at Catholic girls’ board­ing school Stu­ar­tholme, and al­lows par­ents to up­date their child’s med­i­cal, di­etary or con­tact de­tails at any time. “One of the key ben­e­fits is that forms are pre­filled with the lat­est in­for­ma­tion, (par­ents) do not need to con­stantly up­date in­for­ma­tion un­less they need to make amend­ments,” the school’s act­ing prin­ci­pal Deanne John­ston said.

Pic­ture: Liam Kid­ston

RE-THINK: Stu­ar­tholme se­niors Grace Gas­ton, SitharaAnne French, So­phie Bau­man, and So­phie Mar­riott.

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