49 Steps to Safer, Improved School Trips


Climb for Leaders is delighted to announce that it has completed self-assessment against the toughest expedition standard, BS 8848, developed by the Royal Geographical Society in the UK. There is currently no equivalent Canadian or US Standard.

The new standard aims to reduce risk from injury or illness and provides those that comply with the standard, with a way of being able to demonstrate that they are following good practice to manage the venture/expedition safely.  BS 8848 specifies operational requirements for organizers of adventurous and educational activities abroad including university and academic fieldwork, gap year experiences, adventure holidays, charity challenges and research expeditions.

BS8848 is designed to provide  a comprehensive but simple system to ensure that all participants are aware of the need to conduct risk assessments; are adequately trained and prepared; and are aware of the scope of measures to protect their well-being. BS 8848 helps minimize risk through:

  • Guidance on how to run a safe and well organized overseas venture;
  • Establishing best practice for organizers;
  • Helping students, parents and a school recognize whether a venture has well developed safety standards;
  • Preparing participants for the risks involved;
  • Aiming to reduce risk of injury and “near misses”;
  • Providing clear accountability and defined roles for everyone involved.

“While we have carried out many complex expeditions using our in-depth experience of the area, the deep knowledge and experience of our carefully selected local tour operators, and common sense, we had not necessarily documented everything to the extent required by a standard like BS 8848,” said Karim H. Ismail, co-founder of the Climb for Leaders. “This assessment therefore gave us the opportunity to take a second look at each of our practices and policies, step by step and from ground up, and make revisions where we felt it would improve our expeditions.”

He adds: “Overall, we have identified 49 key steps to undertaking an expedition like what we offer through Climb for Leaders. Schools that undertake only service trips, or cultural trips, or only trekking trips may find that they need a few less steps. But nonetheless, at a time when there is growing concern about safety and the strong possibility of litigation in the event there is a mishap, compliance with a standard like BS8848 would demonstrate that a school or venture provider had exercised a high standard of care in planning and undertaking such trips,” he adds.

“The process of defining and undertaking all 49 steps was challenging and very time consuming. To help all schools that undertake trips with increased safety and better outcomes, Climb for Leaders is pleased to share its knowledge by showcasing these steps in an online video presentation and transcript that any school can access,” he continues. “It is our hope that school faculty and staff, heads of school and school boards will find this step-by-step guide useful to improving their own practices as they either adopt such a standard, or partner with organizations that can offer compliance with such a standard for school trips.”

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