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Wells Field Study Centre safety accolade

PUBLISHED: 05:06 20 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:40 07 July 2010

Teachers are on course to be freed from the “cotton wool culture” after two Norfolk venues, including Wells Field Study Centre, were named among the first in the country to be declared safe for school trips.

Teachers are on course to be freed from the “cotton wool culture” after two Norfolk venues, including Wells Field Study Centre, were named among the first in the country to be declared safe for school trips.

Health and safety rules and the fear of being sued have put many schools off from organising outdoor excursions in recent years.

Now the government has stepped in to announce the first 65 organisations to get a new quality badge that identifies places that are officially “school trip safe”.

The venues, which include Easton College Farm and Wells Field Study Centre, can display the badge to prove their credentials - and visiting schools will not need to carry out their own checks and risk assessments.

Other places listed include Cadbury World, the National Coal Mining Museum, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic music venue.

The quality badge scheme was announced by schools secretary Ed Balls in October as part of proposals to cut red tape surrounding school trips.

The initiative brings health and safety standards under one kitemark and identifies organisations that provide high-quality experiences and manage safety effectively.

Mr Balls said no pupil should miss out on school trips because of a “cotton wool culture” that discouraged risk.

He said: “Quality badges offer teachers a guarantee that not only is a venue providing the sort of educational value that they can build on in class long after the visit but they also have the appropriate risk management structures in place.

“I am pleased that the quality badge scheme has been welcomed by a wide range of organisations, including local authorities and teacher unions.

“It is a significant victory in our battle to move away from the misguided perception that learning outside the classroom is a potential minefield for teachers.”

To be awarded the mark, venues such as museums must complete an online assessment and face spot checks, while organisations such as adventure activity centres must be checked by independent assessors.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: “No activity is ever risk free. However, the integrity of the quality badge means that providers holding the badge must be those that manage risk properly, comply with good practice and statutory provisions on health and safety, and are committed to working constructively with schools to give every pupil the best possible educational experience.”

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