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1.5.1 Activities and Transporting Children

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all children.

This procedure provides general advice on the planning and organisation of holidays, outdoor activities, such as educational visits, holidays or days out. The generic term 'Activity' is used to cover all these situations. It does not provide procedures or guidance for specified activities, such as hill walking. Staff must refer to other relevant procedures and guidance where necessary (also see Section 1.6, Adventurous Activities). 

However, the principles of this procedure apply to other types of holiday, outdoor or 'off site' activities such as home visits or transporting children to and from court.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Lincolnshire's Health and Safety Information Pages

Child Car Seats: the law - GOV.UK

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Holidays and School/Organisational Trips Outside the UK Procedure

Holidays and School/Organisational Trips Inside the UK Procedure

AMENDMENT

Section 2.2, Seat Belts and Child Restraints has been updated in December 2016 to include a new link to the Governments guidance on child car seat safety and standards.


Contents

  1. Activities and Holidays 
  2. Transport Arrangements


1. Activities and Holidays 

For Transporting arrangements please see Section 2, Transport Arrangements.

1.1 Planning and Authorisation

The following should be read/applied 'as appropriate', depending on the type of activity/trip. The general principle is that activities and trips must be properly planned and authorised, even 'short trips' to the shops. However, it is not suggested that it is necessary to fulfil all the arrangements listed, unless they are appropriate to the activity/trip. The principles, which apply to all activities/trips, are highlighted in this way.

If in doubt, staff should consult a manager.

It is acknowledged that there is a wide variation in the type of activities undertaken with children and young people. The overall principle for any activity is that staff must conduct Risk Assessments (see Section 1.4, Risk Assessment). The following is provided as guidance, which should be adopted as necessary to each activity undertaken.

1.1.1

The manager or someone delegated to act on the manager's behalf, must oversee and authorise all activities/trips. As soon as it is known an activity or series of activities are likely, the manager must be consulted and should oversee and approve all arrangements, or delegate another person to act on the manager's behalf. All arrangements must be recorded and signed off by the manager in consultation with relevant social workers, carers and parents.

Appropriate written consents must be obtained. Where parental consent is not given, the social worker may need to seek legal advice as to whether the activity can go ahead. 

If the child is travelling overnight, a copy of the consent should be carried by staff.
1.1.2 Where a series or range of activities are necessary (the transporting of children to and from school, a series of supervised contacts or the undertaking of routine activities), the arrangements should be agreed with the manager in advance, and a date set for the review of the arrangements.
1.1.3 A member of staff should be designated as 'in charge' or as the Group Leader. The Group Leader (person in charge) must prepare and produce a route, timetable or schedule for the activity, including dates, times of travel, vehicle(s) to be used, the location of planned breaks, places/locations to be visited and people to be visited.
1.1.4 The Group Leader should ensure that a mobile 'phone is carried or that arrangements are in place to communicate with the manager.
1.1.5 It is recommended that the Group Leader arrange for 'on board' activities (such as games or magazines) to be carried for the child(ren), as well as refreshments.
1.1.6

Consideration must be given to children's needs and interests, including any medical or healthcare needs. The Group Leader must identify the children who will be taking part in the activity and consider what arrangements or plans must be made, taking account of:

  1. Care Plan, Placement Plan, Risk Assessment or other relevant plans;
  2. Recent/relevant events/Incidents;
  3. Group dynamics, staff/child relationships;
  4. Child Protection Issues;
  5. Violent or other offending behaviour;
  6. The healthcare or mental health needs of the children;
  7. Level associated with Drug/Alcohol etc. misuse;
  8. Level of disability and associated special needs;
  9. Insurance arrangement suitable to the activity.
1.1.7 Unless otherwise agreed with a manager, children must be supervised by staff with appropriate levels of experience and qualifications. A list of staff or other responsible adults who are likely to take part must be drawn up. If possible, at least one member of staff should be known to the child(ren) and there must be one member of staff from each gender. Where this is not possible the manager must approve the alternative arrangements, ensuring that the best interests of the children are accounted for; in these circumstances the staff/adults taking responsibility for the child must be provided with relevant information about the child to enable the activity to be undertaken safely.
1.1.8 The Group Leader must ensure the child/staff ratios are adequate to meet the needs of the children and the risks posed. For example, where there is a risk of violence, hazardous activities are undertaken, or remote locations are used.
1.1.9 Where there is a risk of confrontational or violent behaviour, the Group Leader/Manager must ensure that staff/carers undertaking the activity are suitably trained and are familiar with relevant procedures and guidelines contained in this manual relating to the use of Physical Intervention and Searching (see Physical Intervention Procedure).
1.1.10 If the child is being moved or transferred to a placement/home, the Group Leader must ensure that the child's belongings/valuables are packed/carried, with an Inventory. If this is not possible, the Group Leader should check that arrangements are in place and reassure the child.
1.1.11 The Group Leader should ascertain whether the child will require medication whilst travelling on away from the home, and make suitable arrangements for obtaining, storing, administering and recording the medication. 
1.1.12 All staff/carers must carry ID cards or a means of identity.

1.2 Insurance

The Authority maintain suitable Public Liability Insurance. It is important that the staff take the necessary precautions not to invalidate that insurance.

Normally, children's holidays are insured fully under this insurance for any holiday within the United Kingdom. Where children are undertaking adventurous or hazardous activities provided by a centre or supervised by another company, the Group Leader must ensure they carry suitable insurance cover, and that staff who may have unsupervised contact with children have had DBS Checks.

Holidays outside of the United Kingdom may require additional insurance for travel.

A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) needs to be applied for prior to the holiday taking place if travelling outside the United Kingdom.

1.3 Financial Arrangements and Meals

The Group Leader must ensure that suitable funds are available and that arrangements are in place for meals and accommodation.

1.4 Risk Assessment

A Risk assessment is a systematic approach to hazard identification and control. It should be seen as a process that helps you to identify what elements of an activity cause injury and to introduce control measures that will reduce the risk of injury to an acceptable level. 

It is not necessary to undertake a separate Risk Assessment for a repeated activity/trip. Where a range or series of activities may be undertaken (the transporting of children to and from school, a series of supervised contacts, the undertaking of routine activities), the Manager may approve a Risk Assessment and associated arrangements such as staffing levels for a period; the Risk Assessment should then be reviewed if circumstances change.

Generic Risk Assessments are managed and recorded locally. Should you require any further information or guidance on completing a generic risk assessment; Children's Services Health and Safety have produced a Generic Risk Assessment Tool and guidance document that can be located on www.lincolnshirechildren.net. Examples of competed risk assessments can also be located here which can be adapted to suit your particular activity if required.

Otherwise for locally managed Risk Assessments, the following steps should be followed: 

1.4.1 The Manager or person delegated to oversee the activity must approve a completed risk assessment in advance.
1.4.2 A risk assessment for a visit need not be complex but it should be comprehensive. It does not generally require technical formulae or professional health and safety expertise, but specialised information for some visits may be necessary and managers must ensure that the person assessing is competent to do so.
1.4.3 A formal assessment of the risks that might be met on an activity should have the aim of preventing the risks or reducing them. Children must not be placed in situations which expose them to an unacceptable level of risk. If the risks cannot be contained or managed, the activity must not take place.
1.4.4

The risk assessment should be based on the following considerations as well as those described in Section 1.1, Planning and Authorisation.

  1. What are the hazards?
  2. Whom might they affect?
  3. What safety measures need to be in place to reduce the risk to an acceptable level?
  4. Can the designated Group Leader put the safety measures in place?
  5. What steps will be taken in an emergency?
1.4.5 In undertaking the risk assessment, the Group Leader must consult all other staff taking part and children who are capable of making informed decisions, record the risk assessment, arrange for it to be seen and signed off by the manager and then provide copies for all staff/carers taking part. One copy must be left with the manager.
1.4.6 Frequent activities/visits to local venues such as swimming baths, or where a child is transported to and from school, may not need a risk assessment for each trip; but the manager must ensure that an initial risk assessment is completed for the series/range of activities/visits or for locations used frequently. The Risk Assessment should be updated if there are significant changes to circumstances (e.g. for children with special needs).
1.4.7 Alternatively, a risk assessment which has been agreed for a series or range of activities/visits must be reviewed immediately after any information comes to light, or any event/incident occurs which compromises the safety of the children/staff. In such circumstances, the activities/visits must be suspended until a review has taken place and the manager is satisfied that a suitable new risk assessment has been completed.
1.4.8

The Group Leader should take the following factors into consideration when assessing the risks:

  1. The type of visit/activity and the level at which it is being undertaken;
  2. The location, routes and modes of transport;
  3. The competence, experience and qualifications of the staff;
  4. Ratios of children to staff;
  5. The group members' age competence, fitness, and temperament, and the suitability of the activity;
  6. The healthcare needs of the children;
  7. The quality and suitability of available equipment;
  8. Seasonal conditions, weather and timing;
  9. Emergency procedures;
  10. The need to monitor risks throughout the activity;
  11. The children's backgrounds. i.e. offending, mental health issues, disabilities, risk of self harming or suicidal behaviour, health, absconding, child protection, drugs.

When approving the Risk Assessment and subsequent plan for the activity, the Manager should determine what latitude the Group Leader has to change the plan, the need for a contingency plan; an 'on call' or backup procedure to provide support, advice or direction to the Group Leader once the activity has started.

1.4.9 The Risk Assessments must be monitored quarterly by the line manager.

1.5 Prepare the Children

As soon as practicable before the activity is due to start, the children should be notified of the following:

  1. The intention to involve the children in the planning;
  2. An explanation of the proposed activity, including its aims and objectives;
  3. Expectations about their behaviour and the implications of poor behaviour;
  4. Appropriate and inappropriate personal contact including sexual activity;
  5. Emergency procedures and safety precautions;
  6. Rendezvous procedures;
  7. Dangers e.g. coastal visits, mountain walking;
  8. What clothing they will require.

1.6 Adventurous Activities

If an activity holiday is proposed, the name, address and phone number of the organisation, activities involved and type of accommodation should be obtained.

There are a number of checks which must be made on activity holidays.

These must be undertaken by the social worker/Group Leader with the following exception:

  • If the holiday has been arranged by the child’s school the school should be asked to confirm that these checks have been made and that sufficient staff or subcontracted staff will be present to supervise the children. Schools will follow their own procedures and forward Risk Assessments to the Outdoor Education Adviser.

For further information on the Risk Assessment Process for Adventurous Activities, please refer to Children's Services Generic Risk Assessment and Guidance Document for reference.

1.6.1 Organisations Registered with the Adventure Activity Licensing Authority

Workers considering activities under the AALA should firstly get the approval of their line manager. Workers should confirm that the organisation is licensed with the Adventure Activity Licensing Authority. The licence registers the organisation for sports in 4 categories (caving, trekking, mountaineering, water sports) and the conditions in which it is licensed to provide them. For more information on particular activities or guidance please refer to Education Visits and Adventurous Activities Guidance.

The Social Worker/Group Leader should look for:

  • Licence number. This will be a double number e.g.: L1234/R5678;
  • You should verify the licence by ringing the Licensing Authority (see link above);
  • What sports and conditions it is licensed for.

The licence is an indication of the standard of health and safety the organisation achieves. It also indicates that police checks and references have been taken up for staff.

1.6.2 Organisations not Registered with the Adventure Activity Licensing Authority

Some activities, which contain an element of risk, fall below or outside of the licensing level and requirements. For organisations not licensed with the Adventure Activity Licensing Authority, the following checks should be carried out:

Ask for the following:

  • A list of staff and their qualifications for the activities offered;
  • Whether all staff and volunteers are police/DBS checked;
  • Whether references are taken up on all staff and volunteers;
  • Whether the organisation undertakes formal risk assessments on the activities; ask to be sent copy/copies of the risk assessment(s). These should identify risks as well as measures and procedures by which the risks are controlled.

1.7 Accommodation

1.7.1 Accommodation (Indoors)

  1. The immediate accommodation area should be exclusively for the group's use;
  2. There should be heating and appropriate ventilation;
  3. The accommodation must be safe i.e. locks on doors;
  4. The accommodation must have adequate fire precautions, procedures including fire exits and alarms;
  5. The whole group must be made aware of the layout of the accommodation;
  6. There must be adequate space for storing clothing;
  7. There must be adequate lighting (take a torch);
  8. There should be recreational accommodation/facilities wherever possible;
  9. The accommodation must be suitable to the gender mix of all parties present, allowing for privacy of toilet/bathing areas;
  10. Each child should have a separate bedroom;
  11. There should be adequate first aid facilities.

1.7.2 Accommodation (Outdoors)

The above should be taken into consideration. For camping, there are numerous additional considerations to be taken into account, e.g. safety issues, security, cooking safety, fire. All concerns should be part of the risk assessment. 

1.7.3 Sleeping Arrangements

Wherever possible, there should be separate male and female sleeping/bathroom facilities for children and staff. If this is not possible, a rota system must be implemented.

Staff should supervise the children at night and remain in the immediate vicinity. A rota should be devised to enable the maximum supervision possible. The on call person should not retire until the children have been settled for one hour.

Individual/group needs must be taken into consideration at night e.g. a child may prefer not to sleep in a dormitory setting. 

Sleeping arrangements must reflect the fact that staff have considered the individual needs of and associated risks to children on the activity. Sleeping arrangements must be detailed in the plan and approved by the manager.

Security arrangements must be implemented at night. Wherever possible, a child should be prevented from absconding.

1.7.4 Absence whilst Away

If a child becomes Absent (Absent Child is the generic term for children who are missing, whose absence is Unauthorised or who have Absconded), it will be necessary to follow the procedures set out in the Absent Children Procedures.


2. Transport Arrangements

This section must be read in conjunction with Section 1, Activities and Holidays, which sets out the arrangements for planning and organising activities including day trips, educational visits, home visits and the escorting of children to and from Court, Secure or other placements. 

2.1 General Arrangements

All staff should be aware that transporting of children whose behaviour regardless of age can be unpredictable, needs to be carefully planned and risk assessed (see Section 1.4, Risk Assessment) before occurring. Consideration must be given to the likelihood of predictable problems during any journey.

The following must be taken into account:

  1. Passenger safety;
  2. Please note that under the Children and Families Act 2014 smoking in a vehicle with a child (i.e. anyone under the age of 18 yrs) is prohibited;
  3. Competence of the driver;
  4. Awareness of driver's hours;
  5. Traffic conditions;
  6. Contingency funds and arrangements in case of breakdown/emergency;
  7. Weather;
  8. Journey time and distance;
  9. Stopping off points for long journeys and toilet breaks - 20 minutes every 2 hours;
  10. Appropriate seat belts or restraints must be used and fastened (see end of this section, below, for requirements);
  11. The transport must have a first aid kit;
  12. A mobile telephone should be taken/carried by the Group Leader and each member of staff likely to be separated from the Group Leader. If mobile 'phones are not carried, suitable arrangements should be made to enable communication between staff undertaking the activity. The mobile should be checked to ensure the battery is operational, that necessary numbers are available and that the phone works;
  13. Before starting any journey, the Group Leader must undertake the following checks of the vehicle:
    • Ensure the vehicle is clean externally and internally, and does not contain any items which may be hazardous;
    • Check of water, fuel, engine oil and brake fluid;
    • Check brakes;
    • Check of tyre pressures (including the spare);
    • Check of jack and wheel brace;
    • Check fire extinguishers;
    • Where they are fitted, ensure that childproof lock is activated, thereby preventing the rear door being opened from inside the vehicle;
    • Check that tax disc is correct/in place at both ends of journey.

2.2 Seat Belts and Child Restraints

It is essential to ensure that a child travels in an appropriate child restraint that meets the correct safety standards and is suitable in relation to their weight and height as outlined in the Department of Transport Legislation. The Law requires all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any car, van or goods vehicle must use the correct child car seat until they are either 135 cm in height or 12 years old (which ever they reach first). After this they must use an adult seat belt. There are very few exceptions.

It is the driver's responsibility to ensure that children under the age of 14 years are restrained correctly in accordance with the law. For up to date guidance see Child Car Seats: the law - GOV.UK.

End