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trips and outings

Term time services might be either limited in the number and scope of trips and outings or, conversely, make it a regular feature of their weekly programme to take children out for walks or trips to the park and outdoor playgrounds, especially if their premises do not have facilities for outdoor play. Where there are far more trips and outings are usually during holiday care at Easter, October week, mid-term and the longer summer holiday break. Trips and outings as part of the holiday programmes are often very popular, so parents should check how much advance booking is needed, and if regular users take priority. A good quality service will arrange a number of different types of trips and outings in holiday periods. These need not be costly, depending on the access the service has to parks, forests, beaches and the countryside. For outings to places of interest with entry fees the service might have to ask for that to be met by parents, or charge a higher rate for that day. Services often fundraise for special trips; even term time only services will likely hold an end of term summer trip or visit to the theatre, pantomime, cinema etc. for the winter festive season.

The service should have a policy on trips and outings outlining the staff child ratios as agreed by the Care Inspectorate. These ratios might vary according to the children's needs, e.g. a service catering for a larger number of children with disabilities will need more staff per child. They should be able to describe the first aid and emergency procedures on outings, ensure any transport used meets required legal and safety standards; ask for parental permission in advance of the trip (services with frequent outings may ask for "block permission"); take into account any permission needed for including children in photographs or short films of the trip; follow procedures for applying sun cream or administration of medication; ensure parents are given guidance on children's clothing appropriate for the trip and weather conditions; ensure any additional needs, disabilities are catered for so all children are included, and carry out a risk assessment for the trip or outing.

Services should listen to the children's ideas and have evidence their opinions are taken into account when devising a trips schedule or choosing an outing. Some children might be with a service for five or more years so, while perhaps still enjoying going to a familiar venue with more excited younger oneswho have not been there before, equally the older children may be bored with going to the same place year after year. A good quality service should show they address such concerns from the children and offer a varied programme.

It is necessarily the case that for trips and outings children might be away all day, or for a longer time than your usual pick up time in the early evening. While this can inconvenience parents in terms of pick up arrangements, children undoubtedly enjoy the fun of going out in a group and having their horizons stretched by doing something new and different , therefore, we recommend parents and services do work together to ensure children do not miss out on such opportunities.

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