Festival News: reflections on a session about educational visits

Published: 25 September 2020
Molly Dolman (Learn Sheffield) reflects on the session by Martin Clist on 'Building Confidence for Educational Visits'.

Martin Clist – Building Confidence for Educational Visits

Martin Clist from Thornbridge Outdoors delivered a really helpful and informative session as part of the COVID Recovery Festival, discussing how schools and teachers may be able to reintroduce educational visits into school life.

Why should we do educational visits

Educational visits are proven to be good for our mental health! There is evidence to show that throughout lockdown children may have been cooped up with electronic devices and so now is the time to get them outdoors! It is also easier to social distance outdoors, COVID transmits less easily and so in theory, outdoor educational visits are actually safer than being in the classroom!

Risk factors and how to address them


The best way to reduce risk in this area is to stick to trips that are either on school site (E.G. if there are some woods attached to your school), or very nearby (walking distance). The other option would be to use school specific transport, or if you are using a travel company, discuss with them how often they are cleaning their buses (to minimise risk this should ideally be after each use). Public transport would be advised against. The lowest risk option here would be to consider ways to get children outdoors on the school site, for example taking normal lessons outside!

Other people

Again, the best way to reduce risk here is to stay on school site. However, another way to manage this would be to find a place that could be used exclusively – for example you might have a local outdoor space owned by an estate that would be willing to give your class exclusive use of this for a period of time. The greatest risk here would be using an enclosed public space with lots of other users.

Minimising virus transmission

In this instance you should always include risk factors that are individual to your school, however the most generic measures to take would be always wash your hands before and after the visit, take hand sanitiser, minimise touching objects E.G a teacher could hold open a gate as opposed to every pupil touching it, and minimise contact with toilets where possible.

Other risks

During educational visits there are a number of every day risks – it’s important not to forget about these in light of COVID. For example, volunteers are still allowed so always take enough people to manage the children. You could consider meeting the volunteers off school site so they aren’t classed as a visitor to the school and encourage social distancing where possible. Make sure to set clear boundaries with the children about where they’re allowed to go, for example take cones and say you can’t go outside this area. There is also a financial risk to trips getting cancelled at present, so make sure to check contracts and terms of cancellation.

To summarise – keep it simple! You don’t need to rewrite your risk assessment or school policy – just follow your existing one! Take this opportunity to integrate outdoor learning into everyday life!


Thank you Martin for a really positive, reassuring and informative session!

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