It’s getting to that time of year again where schools up and down the country are planning trips. Trips are something the kids might love, but can be a headache for the staff. In school, a teacher can easily look after a class of 30. Some may have the assistance of a classroom helper. Ratios of adults to children will depend on the age of the kids involved. Most schools work on a basic of 1 adult per 6 children in the early years or Primary, rising to 1 per 8 as they get older. Few schools have enough paid staff to cover the numbers needed. So one common tactic is to rope in parents, grandparents or other helpers. But do helpers on school trips need disclosure checks?  

Disclosure Checks for Ad-Hoc Helpers

Everyone knows that in general terms, people who want to work with children need to have enhanced disclosure checks. There are very good reasons for this policy. As parents, we need to know that the people looking after our kids are trustworthy, honest, and haven’t committed crimes against children in the past. Anyone wanting to work as a teacher or classroom assistant, or even in the school office, needs their certificate before starting work. These rules also apply to people who are volunteering on a regular basis. The DBS defines regular as at least once a week, or 4 times within any 30 day period. Less frequently than that, and you don’t need a DBS check. As most parents are only asked to help on a school trip once a year, then the school doesn’t have to go through the process of checking on them first. The only exception to this is when the trip is overnight. In those situations, all adults with the party need an enhanced disclosure check.  

Parents and School Trips

Schools are accustomed to having extra helpers on school trips, and will usually have planned extensively for the visit. Looking after the children is always the main concern, and parents shouldn’t be asked to do anything which puts children at risk. If you’ve been asked to help out, then the teacher should be clear about what you’re expected to do. For most trips, this will mean putting up with bad singing on the bus and performing constant head counts. Parents who are not DBS checked shouldn’t be expected to escort individual children to the toilet. This is the sort of duty which the teacher does.  

How do teachers choose who they want to help out?

In the unlikely event that teachers are deluged with dozens of parents all wanting to help out on a trip to the local museum, they might have to select just a few to help. There are no hard and fast rules. Teachers might pick people who have helped in school before. They might want to choose a mix of mums and dads. Other teachers might just pull names out of a hat. If you’re not picked this year then don’t worry. There will be plenty of other opportunities to get involved in the future.