Excursions and tours have educational value, and are considered to be important features in the school’s wider extra-curricular programme. Sports tours motivate players and stimulate improvement in our sport. Cultural tours enrich the curricular programme. Both types of tours have valuable social benefits and promote school spirit. In terms of the South African Schools Act of 1996, the governing body of a public school must determine the Tours and Excursion policy of that school.
2 CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK
The following constitutional and legislative frameworks underpin these guidelines:
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996;
The South African Schools Act, 1996 (Act 84 of 1996);
The Regulations on Safety Measures at Public Schools, Government Gazette No. 29376, dated 10 November 2006;
‘Guidelines For The Management Of School Excursions’, as published by the Western Cape Education Department: Directorate: Institutional Management and Governance Planning.
3 SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
For the purposes of these guidelines, school activities are classified into two categories:
Category 1 activities: parallel, but voluntary, enrichment activities;
Category 2 activities: tours, camps and excursions.
The rules, arrangements and expectations regarding excursions, or outings related to these activities, are as follows:
3.1 Category 1 activities: Co-curricular, but voluntary, enrichment activities
Schools offer a variety of co-curricular, but voluntary, activities aimed at enriching and/or extending the curriculum. These activities include, for example, attendance at a film show, a theatre production, a concert or choir, or visits to places of interest during which the knowledge gained by learners during lessons will be extended to matters beyond, though related to, the curriculum. The following procedures should apply to such activities:
3.1.1 attendance at these activities is not compulsory, and learners who do not participate are not academically disadvantaged as a result of their absence;
3.1.2 the activities take place on or off the school premises, and after school hours;
3.1.3 the school may levy a charge on those learners attending, in order to cover transport costs and entrance fees;
3.1.4 if the activity unavoidably occurs at such time that attendance breaks into the academic programme, permission must be sought by the principal from the district director or his or her delegate, at least two weeks before the proposed activity takes place.
3.2 Category 2 activities: Tours, camps and excursions
3.2.1 These activities take place off the school premises and require participants to sleep over somewhere other than in their homes.
3.2.2 Costs will be borne by the parents of participating learners.
3.2.3 In respect of such an event, the following permissions are required:
(a) in respect of any activity taking place outside of the borders of South Africa:
(i) initial provisional approval for the proposed activity must be obtained from the governing body in the form of a minuted decision of a quorate meeting of the governing body;
(ii) after governing body approval has been granted, the principal will approach the Head of Department for permission to proceed;
(iii) such application must reach the District Director at least six (6) months before the proposed departure date;
(iv) based on the submission from the school, which will include sufficient detail (e.g. purpose of activity, full itinerary, accommodation and safety arrangements, for an informed decision to be made, the District Director will consider the application and then either reject the proposal or grant provisional permission to proceed. The District Director may require additional information if submitted information does not assist him or her to arrive at an appropriate decision;
(v) the decision of the District Director must reach the principal within 30 days of the receipt thereof;
(vi) if provisional permission is granted by the District Director, the school will proceed to obtain approval from the parents of likely participants, at a formal meeting, where the proposed itinerary, programme and projected costs are clearly explained and enumerated;
(vii) the proposal to proceed must be put to the meeting, discussed, voted upon and the decision minuted;
(viii) if a decision to proceed is passed, the governing body must formally accept the decision of the parent meeting at a meeting of its own;
(ix) the minutes of these two meetings must be sent to the District Director at least three (3) months before the proposed departure date, at which stage the department will either confirm or withdraw its permission to proceed.
(b) For any activity which takes place within the borders of South Africa, but during which the participants are required to sleep over or away from their normal place of residence, the following will apply:
(i) the activity will be included on the school’s normal year plan or programme of activities.
(ii) these activities will be discussed and approved in advance by the governing body.
(iii) they will be submitted in writing to the district director or his or her delegate before the end of the school year preceding that in which the activities are due to take place.
(iv) he or she will consider the application and either grant or withhold permission for each activity, individually.
(v) the district director or his or her delegate will respond to the application before the start of the new school year.
3.2.6 As part of the preparations for any of the above Category 2 activities, the school will present relevant details of the activity, including costs, to the parents of likely or prospective participants, and obtain written permission from parents for their children to participate.
3.2.7 Such written permission will, where relevant, also include the details of any medical conditions, medicines, permission for accompanying adults to act in loco parentis in an emergency, contact numbers and other such details as the principal may deem necessary.
3.2.8 Where Category 2 activities within the borders of the country are added to the programme during the year, they will be formally approved by the governing body and permission will be requested from the district director or his or her delegate before the end of the school term prior to that in which the activities are to take place.3.2.9 The district director or his or her delegate will respond to the application before the start of the new term.
4 GENERAL PRINCIPLES
4.1 All school activities are organised in accordance with the relevant national and provincial legislative requirements.
4.2 A risk assessment must be conducted prior to all school excursions. This assessment must consider, among other things, the following:
4.2.1 financial affordability to learners;
4.2.2 relevance to the curriculum or subject;
4.2.3 safety, e.g. type of transport to be used, possible weather conditions and environmental risks, such as terrain, snakes, wild animals, water, etc.;
4.2.4 health and age of educators and learners;
4.2.5 extent of supervision required and the planning thereof
4.3 Because excursions fall within the context of the definition of a school activity, the same standard of conduct that is required by the school’s code of conduct, as well as the obligation to report learner or educator misconduct or child abuse, applies equally and throughout any tour, camp or excursion, in the same manner as it would in the school context.
5 SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS
5.1 Prior to any excursion taking place, the school governing body and the parents of the learners concerned must be informed in writing in advance of
5.1.1 the full details of the planned excursion, including the destination, purpose, costs involved, date and time of departure, transportation and eating arrangements, estimated time of return, and the excursion itinerary or programme; and
5.1.2 whether the excursion will include travelling through areas where there is a risk of disease or violence.
5.2 Signed indemnity and parental consent forms, granting permission for a learner to participate in Category 2 activities, must be obtained from the relevant parents.
5.3 Learners should not be refused participation based on the parent’s refusal to sign an indemnity form.
5.4 If some parents do not allow their children to participate in a school excursion which occurs during school hours, the school must arrange an alternative educational programme, which could be normal classes at school.
6 DUTIES, RESPONSIBILITIES AND EXPECTATIONS OF EDUCATORS IN CHARGE OF SCHOOL EXCURSIONS
6.1 Principals are responsible for ensuring that the necessary permission is obtained, depending on the category of activity, and must, where relevant, complete the application form contemplated in Schedule 1 to the Regulations on Safety Measures at Public Schools, published in terms of the SASA, and submit it to the official designated in these guidelines.
6.2 For excursions or tours where permission is required from the Head of Department or district director or their delegate, the following must be included with the application:
6.2.1 a written description of the arrangements to ensure that learners and staff members not going on tour, for whatever reasons, will continue with their normal school duties and activities;
6.2.2 the excursion or tour programme, with details of proposed dates, routes, places to be visited, duration of the excursion or tour and arrangements for transport and accommodation;
6.2.3 a written statement indicating the number and grade(s) of learners that will be going on the excursion or tour, and the approximate number of male and/or female supervising staff accompanying the excursion or tour party;
6.2.4 a written indication of how lost teaching time will be made up, if not completely covered by the excursion or tour programme.
6.3 The school must make every reasonable effort to ensure the safety of learners during the excursion or tour, including, but not limited to, the following:
6.3.1 the school must ensure that the learners are under the supervision of a responsible adult at all times, taking into account the gender composition of the learner group;
6.3.2 the educator: learner ratio is at least 1 educator or parent or other adult for every 20 primary school learners, or at least 1 educator, parent or other adult for every 30 secondary school learners;
6.3.3 the principal must take all reasonable measures to ensure that those allowed to accompany and supervise learners are suitable for the task.
6.4 Should any learner be on medication while participating in the excursion or tour, the following precautions must be taken:
6.4.1 parents of such learners must report to the school, in writing, the medical condition of their child before the excursion;
6.4.2 the principal must provide the supervising educator with a report on the medical conditions of such learners;
6.4.3 sufficient quantities of medication must be provided by parents for learners who require medication during school excursions;
6.4.4 certified copies of doctors’ prescriptions for those medications must be provided by the parents of the learners concerned;
6.5 If a learner is injured or falls ill during the course of an excursion, and requires medical treatment, the supervising educator must do the following:
6.5.1 contact the parent of the learner concerned to obtain written consent for such medical treatment;
6.5.2 determine whether or not to consent to such medical treatment, if he or she is unable to contact the parent of the learner.
7 SUPERVISION OF LEARNERS DURING AN EXCURSION
Before the planned excursion is undertaken, principals must ensure that, in addition to the requirements stated in paragraph 7 above,
7.1 reasonable precautionary measures have been taken in relation to the safety of the participating learners, educators and parents, and that the supervision will be adequate in relation to the number of learners, their maturity, anticipated behaviour and the planned activities;
7.2 in cases of extended excursions, supervising educators and accompanying educators recognise their duty to care for the safety and welfare of learners;
7.3 the supervising educator and accompanying educators are made aware that they retain the ultimate responsibility for supervision, care and welfare of learners and cannot transfer the responsibility to parents, volunteers or employees of external organisations, such as hotel staff or bus drivers;
7.4 in the case of overnight or extended excursions, supervisory and accommodation arrangements are such that no educator or parent is placed in a position where there is a potential for allegations of improper conduct to be made, or where the propriety of their behaviour can be questioned;
7.5 any excursions involving swimming, water-based activities or overnight stays are accompanied by an educator who possesses some qualification or training in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and emergency care;
7.6 where possible, that the area or place of the proposed excursion is assessed beforehand to identify potential problems or dangers, and to determine the level of supervision necessary to avoid the risk of injury; and
7.7 unscheduled alternative activities by participating learners, which were not originally part of the programme and for which parental consent would normally have beennecessary, must not be permitted.
8 TRANSPORT AND TRANSPORT FILE
Arrangements and expectations regarding the transport of learners are subject to a set of regulations of their own. The following indicates the manner in which the regulations can be effectively applied by schools in respect of excursions, tours and normal day-today transport arranged by or for the school:
8.1 Every school which transports or arranges transport for its learners will keep a transport file.
8.2 This file must be inspected and signed by the district director or his or her delegate at least once every academic year, preferably during his or her first visit to the school each year. The school may elect to invite the district director or his or her delegate to the school for this purpose.
8.3 The file will contain the following:
8.3.1 In the case of a school which has its own vehicles which are driven by staff members:
(a) a valid roadworthy certificate for every vehicle owned or used by the school to transport learners (The certificate to be renewed annually and replaced by the newly updated document.);
(b) a copy of a valid professional driving permit for every person who is at any time allowed to drive a school vehicle transporting passengers (This must, likewise, be renewed annually and the latest version filed.);
(c) proof that the vehicle is appropriately insured.
8.3.2 In the case of a school which uses an outside transport service provider to transport learners, a certificate similar to Addendum A must be completed and signed annually by every transport service provider used by the school.
8.3.3 Whenever a vehicle is used for transporting learners, the staff member in charge of arranging the transport or driving a vehicle transporting learners will carry out a cursory inspection of the vehicle to determine whether it appears to be in sound condition and suitable for transporting the number of learners in the group. This can be done by considering matters such as the following:
(a) the general appearance of the vehicle
(b) whether the windscreen wipers, head-, tail- and brake lights and hand-brake are in working order (Ask for a demonstration before allowing learners to get onto or into the vehicle)
(c) whether the brakes of the vehicle are in sound working order (A brief demonstration can be arranged on or immediately outside the school premises.)
(d) the condition of the tyres
(e) the condition of the windows
(f) the operation of the entrance and exit doors
(g) the condition of the seating in the vehicle
8.3.4 Every vehicle must be equipped with a fire extinguisher.
8.3.5 If the excursion is for more than one day, the transport company or the owner of the vehicle(s) must provide (a) substitute driver(s) and a transport support system en route.
8.3.6 The principal, supervising educator or member of the school governing body must liaise with the driver or owner of a bus if an accident must be reported to the police, and must report the accident him- or herself within 48 hours if the driver or the owner fails to do so.
8.3.7 Transport companies or owners must, in addition to the above, comply with the requirements for scholar transport set out in the Regulations for the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Regulations, 2008, in particular Chapter 6, and any other notice which may, from time to time, be published in terms of such Regulations.
9 ELIGIBILITY TO PARTICIPATE
It must be noted that participation in activities such as contemplated above is a privilege. As a consequence, the school will not allow learners to participate where any one or more of the following scenarios pertain:
9.1 being involved in any activity which leads to a withdrawal of privileges as described in Section 5.2 of the Code of Conduct and Uniform Policy;
9.2 the school fees are not up to date or paid on a regular basis.
10.1 Where funds are raised to finance or part-finance an excursion, it is expected of all participants to be fully involved. If prospective participants in an excursion withdraw their participation subsequent to fundraising activities in which they have been involved, they are not entitled to any share of the funds raised.
10.2 If parents of prospective participants pay a deposit which the organisation needs to secure tickets, accommodation, etc., but subsequently withdraw their children, they will not be entitled to a refund.
10.3 Parents of learners who wish to raise funds on behalf of their children may do so, but only after receipt of a letter of authorisation from the school.
10.4 Educators in charge of organising excursions or trips must keep strict financial control, and must submit financial statements to the Finance Officer on a monthly basis. If no fundraising has taken place in a particular month, the Finance Officer is to be informed.
10.5 All fundraising activities must comply with all national and local laws and regulations.