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Lessons for school trips

19 April 2013

Fourteen-year-old Charlotte Shaw drowned while on a school expedition to Dartmoor in 2007. Proceedings were brought against the teacher responsible for the expedition and her school for being vicariously responsible.

The Court of Appeal yesterday rejected the claim for damages on the basis that while one of the teachers involved had been negligent in failing to meet the group at a check point, it was the "well meant but ill-advised intervention" of a scoutmaster who attempted to help the unaccompanied group cross a swollen brook, contrary to the instructions given by the expedition leader.

In December 2012 the Department for Education issued revised health & safety guidance which stressed teachers must not be discouraged from taking children on school trips because of misplaced health and safety concerns. This case is a reminder that health and safety is there to ensure these tragic events do not happen and that you can never plan too much for such an event, particularly when pupils’ lives are at risk.

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