CAMP’S OUT FOR KIDS
Red tape forces schools to end excursions
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.
RE-THINK: Stuartholme seniors Grace Gaston, SitharaAnne French, Sophie Bauman, and Sophie Marriott.