How to make school excursions safe – and fun – for everyone

ParentPaperwork’s Business Development Manager, Sam Sapuppo – a 30-year school veteran in roles such as Deputy Head, Director of Boarding and Director of Community Relations – explains the workings of our Activity Care Module in a practical school context…

Excursions, activities and field trips are an important part of the academic and cultural life of every school. That’s undeniable.

However, every one of us who has been in the position of organising an excursion or an activity understands that it is a multifaceted, logistical, legal compliance and communications management juggling act. Excursions demand an enormous amount of time from our teaching and administration staff – and that is just the paperwork.

Not much fun (for something that really should be enjoyable).

When push comes to shove, many of us will admit we have primarily used ‘whatever we did last year’ or ‘what the person before us in the role did’ to organise a school activity. We are secretly aware there must be a SIMPLER, SMARTER, BETTER way of organising excursions and activities but time rarely allows us to think this through.

I’m pleased to report ParentPaperwork’s Activity Care Module is the SIMPLER, SMARTER, BETTER way I always dreamed of as a School Deputy Head.

The planning of school excursions and activities generally involves four pre-activity steps that are of equal importance in safeguarding the integrity of the activity, and ensuring all legal and school requirements are fulfilled. They are:

1. Book and justify the educational purpose of the activity, as well as negotiate an appropriate date (otherwise known as the Event Booking form);
2. Risk assessment and ‘the multi-page tome’ (Risk Assessment form);
3. Staffing and resource application and approvals (Staff and Resource Booking form); and
4. Permission letter to parents (Excursion and Activity Permission form).

As every good educationalist knows, reflection and review are integral components in the learning cycle so there are also post-activity steps that need to be accommodated. Accordingly, ParentPaperwork’s Activity Care Module enables schools to send reflection/survey forms to students, staff and parents (Excursion/Activity Reflection Survey form) on the completion of the activity.

Not only are these forms digitised through the ParentPaperwork suite but so is the process, which enables workflow and communication to be automated. We estimate 90% of the administration task surrounding an excursion or activity is removed by using our Activity Care Module. For example, a pre-filled digital form delivered on the personal device of the parent/student/staff has proven to be a real winner.

Building on the best practice for which ParentPaperwork has become known, we have designed this Activity Care Module with the following principle in mind: The student experience is of primary importance.

So how do we support this?

Working with hundreds of schools in our ParentPaperwork Community, we developed the Activity Care Module to be an essential tool from the start to finish of an activity and in the event of an emergency.

Here is what makes it SIMPLER, SMARTER, BETTER:

  • Automated pre-activity emails provide key care information (photographs, emergency contacts/medical/dietary notes, etc.) about students participating in an activity or excursion;
  • Student care information is available in both an easy offline and online format, highlighting and colour-coding students at high risk;
  • Notes can be added to all ParentPaperwork forms to inform and keep staff up-to-date as events unfold or alerting them to key considerations that need to be kept front of mind;
  • Easy viewing of a child’s existing care information by parents (data read from your student management system) via your parent portal (such as Schoolbox, SEQTA or custom integration to your portal);
  • Student attendance can be recorded for an activity or excursion via a new mobile-specific page;
  • Privacy, security and accountability is assured via access and audit controls, and logs;

With the Activity Care Module, ParentPaperwork completely closes the loop in terms of the forms administration of any activity. This effectively frees staff to concentrate on the excursion and/or activity itself, while reassuring parents that the school is in control of its activities, and their child is safe to experience and learn.

Yes, I can put my hand on my heart and say I wished I had the option of ParentPaperwork’s Activity Care Module when I was helping lead a school. At the very least, I get the satisfaction of offering it to you.

Read here for more information about the functionality of ParentPaperwork’s Activity Care Module. Or contact us at info@parentpaperwork.com