Safer school trips abroad? British Standards Institution invites teachers to have their say

Press release

26 October 2006

Today the British Standards Institution (BSI) holds a public meeting at the Royal Geographical Society on a new standard - BS 8848 - in response to increasing public calls to make overseas educational trips safer for children.

BSI surveyed British parents and found that one in three* are not aware of who is in charge of their children’s safety when they are abroad. The survey also highlighted that 82 per cent think trips overseas for their kids should comply with a national safety standard. The new standard being drafted by BSI seeks to address these concerns by pulling together a wide range of expertise and experience into an easily recognised and trusted national standard.

For one parent, Mr. Peter Eisenegger, the new standard is long overdue:

“Our daughter died of heat stroke on an expedition in 1999. Any parent who has been through something similar wants to help prevent the same thing happening again. As a member of BSI’s consumer committee, working on this safety standard has allowed me to do that.

“The standard is not about stopping anyone being adventurous. It is about making sure the avoidable risks are managed so they are negligible. Based on the analysis of years of well managed ventures the level of risk should be not much more than we experience in everyday life.”

BS 8848 is being developed for adventurous educational activities abroad with the aim of reducing the risk of injury, illnesses or even worse. It sets out best practice processes for anyone involved with the organisation of expeditions. It will ensure that for every trip someone will be charged with overall responsibility and everyone involved will have clear accountability and defined roles. The standard will also act as an invaluable guide to schools, travel operators and other organisers, helping them to apply the principles of good management, ensuring risks are kept to a minimum.

Paul Rose, explorer, BBC TV presenter and ex Council Vice President and Chair of Expeditions at the Royal Geographical Society, wholeheartedly supports this standard, stating:

"I've spent my life leading expeditions in the world’s most remote and challenging locations including the Antarctic, Greenland and Indian Ocean. It's been a way of life for me, but I've feared for some time that future generations won't get the opportunity to experience the exhilaration, and learning, of such ventures, because of the way some people have approached the associated risks.

“This standard, and the way it's been put together, not only enables a true line of accountability but also encourages people to undertake the training and detailed planning to give them the confidence to go out and see the world".

Mike Low, Director of BSI British Standards says the public’s point of view is essential:

“Historically, travel safety procedures for young people on adventurous holidays abroad have been patchy. BSI has been working closely with parents, teachers and travel operators to develop this new standard, designed to meet the increasingly complex health and safety regulations facing young people travelling abroad. The public’s input is invaluable which is why we’re inviting people to feed their opinions into the draft standard before it is finalised.”

- Ends -

Media information

BSI Group Press Office, London, UK
Tel:             +44 (0)20 8996 6330       (24 hours)

Notes to editors

  1. The public consultation meeting on the new 'Adventure Venture' standard BS 8848 is hosted by the Royal Geographical Society and is part of the Draft for Public Comment (DPC) stage of the standard's development. The feedback will be used to produce a final version of the standard due for publication early in 2007.
  2. *Research was carried out for BSI between 15 and 25 September 2006 amongst a representative sample of 729 UK adults aged 16+ who have children.
  3. BSI British Standards is the UK’s national standards body, working with government, businesses and consumers to represent UK interests and facilitate the production of British, European and international standards to meet economic and social needs.
  4. Paul Rose and Peter Eisenegger are available for comment, as is a travel industry spokesperson.
  5. BS 8848 gets its number from the height of Mount Everest. The standard is designed to apply to all educational trips e.g. those organised by schools and universities.
  6. Members of the BSI Technical Committee responsible for developing this standard include ABTA, Year Out Group, School Travel Forum, LEA Outdoor Education Advisers Panel and Girlguiding UK.