Newly released Department for Educaton's Schools COVID-19 operational guidance

Statement from Gill Harvey, CEO School Travel Forum, in response to the newly released Department for Educaton's Schools COVID-19 operational guidance (applies from Step 4)

We very much welcome the updated Schools Guidance from Department for Education giving the greenlight to schools and teachers to start planning their overseas educational visits in the Autumn Term. The guidance, which is scheduled to come into place on 19 July, will be in line with that of the FCDO and will remove any confusion for schools. We have campaigned long and hard for teachers to be trusted and for guidance from different government departments to be aligned. 

Research tells us, our members tell us, schools tell us and young people themselves tell us - educational visits can change lives. They broaden horizons, build understanding of a subject and a country and culture, and improve academic attainment, confidence and behaviour. 

These experiences are woven into the fabric of school life, and we are delighted that young people will soon be able to benefit from these experiences once more. Our members are very much looking forward to welcoming and supporting school groups during the 2021/22 academic year.  

Read the full guidance here:

Judicial Review

Legal challenge launched against Department for Education travel advice

A pre-action protocol letter has been sent to the Department for Education (DfE) on behalf of School Travel Forum (STF), the leading association for companies providing overseas educational visits, and the Expedition Provider’s Association. The two organisations are challenging the failure of DfE to give the greenlight to schools to plan and book International educational visits for 2022 and beyond, citing the advice as ‘irrational’ and are seeking a Judicial Review to overturn this guidance.

Gill Harvey, chief executive of STF, said: “It takes schools 12 months and upwards to plan a successful and safe educational visit overseas. This gives families time to save and teachers time to build the trip into their yearly plans and to prepare students.

“We aren’t talking about schools planning to travel in the next six months, schools want to start planning for next year, but the conflicting advice given by DfE and FCDO is preventing schools from going ahead. “

“It is unprecedented for the DfE to give travel advice or advice that contradicts other government departments. Our members have been unable to operate or even take advance bookings since March 2020. There is a real risk with the current restrictions from the DfE that once we emerge from this pandemic there will be far fewer specialist accredited travel companies available to schools. Our members are the only companies that hold the DfE-backed LOtC Quality Badge which ensures stringent health and safety measure specific to educational visits are in place. The loss of these companies could put pupils at risk if schools are forced to use non-accredited companies.

Jon Clarke, school visits champion and shadow headteacher at a Midlands-school based in an area of high deprivation, said “Residential trips change lives. They make learning real and are essential to helping students understand the world around them. To make sure our trips are affordable for everyone, we apply to trusts and grants for funds and our students frequently fundraise to cover costs. Being unable to plan ahead means we won’t have time to start our fundraising activities for next year.

“This will be a third cohort of young people missing out on these experiences. Young people who, without the opportunities that our school provide, will not get the chance to venture beyond their home area.

“Before their first trip in Year 7, many of our students have never been to the beach or paddled in the sea before. Ordinarily, during their time with the school, they would have the opportunity to practice language skills in France, Spain or Germany, visit battlefields and experience trips further afield. These visits are a catalyst for students get the confidence to go out and explore the world beyond their local area. They are an opportunity to discover new places and have an amazing collective experience with their peers.”

Each year more than 560,000 students undertake an educational visit overseas. Members of the School Travel Forum have been contacting their MPs to highlight the plight facing schools and students.

Gill Harvey said: “Educational visits have a transformative impact on young people. They broaden horizons, build understanding, bring a subject to life and have been proven to improve academic attainment, confidence and behaviour. If these opportunities become the preserve of the well-off it will further widen the education and social mobility gap.

“Schools need to be able to make their own decisions about future travel plans. Being able to plan ahead will mean they can secure the best price for their group, so all students have access to the same benefits and opportunities.”


Media queries:

Justine Lee

Marketing & Communications Manager, School Travel Forum

T: 07917 804550


Covid and re-starting educational trips

Re-starting School & Youth Travel

Over 2 million young people benefit from an overnight educational visit every year. These experiences build confidence, enhance relationships and improve attainment. On 17 March 2020 the Department for Education (DfE) halted all overseas educational visits in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Overnight stays for schools remain banned at present, and the advice is expected to remain in force for overseas travel until the start of the new academic 2021/2022. This is preventing schools from being able to plan any school visits, regardless of departure date.

What does this mean?

It takes approximately 9-12 months for schools and youth groups to plan an overnight educational visit, it is therefore very likely that schools and their specialist accredited companies that support and help deliver these experiences safely will not have been able to send children overseas for over two years.

In its December report, The Global Travel Taskforce recognised the importance of the school educational travel sector and committed to working with the industry to establish the conditions that need to be met to support future planning for a positive restart.

What we have been doing

School Travel Forum has been working with the DfE through the School Travel Taskforce Stakeholder Group to develop a roadmap for re-starting overnight educational visits. We have presented a report to the Secretary of State, Gavin Williamson outlining how this can be done in line with Government guidance on travel for educational settings:

  • Step 1b/2 – 29 March / 12 April: day educational visits are permitted
  • Step 3 – 17 May: UK residential educational visits are permitted with specific COVID-secure measures in place
  • Step 4 – 21 June: All educational visits can take place with revised COVID-secure measures, in line with Government requirements.

We need your help to make sure that accredited travel providers can continue supporting schools

Please tweet your support to @grantshapps, @OliverDowden, you can use the following messages in your tweets

  • @transportgovuk - Global Travel Taskforce: Don’t forget children and young people when setting up travel protocols with other countries
  • @DCMS specialist school travel companies need financial support so staff can return from furlough and ensure operations are Covid & Brexit ready before schools travel.

Roadmap to Re-starting Overnight Educational Visits Submitted to Department for Education - Press Release 10th Feb 2021


  •          Covid-safe protocols developed to support safe reopening of domestic sector after Easter and international travel in the 2021/22 academic year
  •          1 million children will have missed out on an overseas educational visit since these experiences were halted
  •          £50m financial support package requested to safeguard £700m overnight educational visits sector
  •          Government-backed insurance scheme requested to enable future school bookings

For full press release  please click here


Please click on the image above to view the video


CLOtC Consortium of Associations - Statement for Government to Action

Please see below link to statement from CLOtC & Cconsortium of Associations regarding what we are asking the government to action.


CLOtC Consortium of Associations  - Statement for Government to Action

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