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  • Demystifying Risk Assessments

    We are pleased to share our guide to effective risk management on excursions, visits and non-adventurous activities. The purpose of this guide is to help explain the responsibilities of risk assessments for schools and tour operators. It also seeks to illustrate, in non-technical terms, common basic risk assessment principles that group leaders can use to benefit their own group management plans when undertaking educational visits. Download the guide below.

  • Greater flexibility for School Travel Forum members

    Specialist travel industry body, School Travel Forum changes Membership rules to recognise ABTOT’s government-approved financial protection scheme and professional services. New changes from School Travel Forum have increased flexibility for its members whilst retaining protection for schools. Membership rules for School Travel Forum, the not-for-profit industry body for specialist school travel and tour operators, now recognise ABTOT’s government-approved financial protection scheme and professional services meaning its members can now choose the most appropriate scheme for their operations. ABTOT has demonstrated that it can support School Travel Forum members by providing: Robust financial protection: ABTOT is an approved govt body and was awarded an ATOL franchise in 2017 enabling it to cover flight and non-flight bookings for approved Members and offers 3 Merchant Acquiring Schemes, whereby Members enjoy beneficial acquiring rates and a streamlined application process. Professional arbitration services A code of conduct that refers to professional trading standards. School Travel Forum is an association run by its members. Central to its focus is the promoting and upholding best practice health and safety within the school travel sector to enable schools to book with a School Travel Forum member knowing their safety management systems are effective and financial protection is in place. School Travel Forum also has added responsibilities as an awarding body for the LOtC Quality Badge to ensure that members have robust financial protection, access to a professional complaints arbitration service, and adhere to a code of conduct that refers to professional trading standards. Until now, School Travel Forum has relied solely on ABTA to cover these aspects. Going forward this strategic decision allows School Travel Forum members to customise their financial protection solutions as ABTOT provides a personable, straightforward and cost-effective approach to insolvency protection, accepting insurance backed bonds and an easy-to-manage financial failure insurance from its sister company t&g as well as accepting bank bonds. Richard Watson MD ABTOT says “ABTOT has been operating for 30 years as a government-approved body and we welcome this change from School Travel Forum for its members. We understand the Travel industry and are proud to bring our expertise and all our services to School Travel Forum Members” The new offering is a testament to School Travel Forum's commitment to continuously enhancing its services and adapting to the changing demands of the school travel industry. By allowing members the choice of their bonding provider, STF seeks to address the diverse needs of its members and provide a comprehensive range of options to further strengthen membership. Gill Harvey CEO School Travel Forum says “By partnering with ABTOT, School Travel Forum can provide its members with bonding arrangements that align with their business needs while maintaining the additional professional arbitration services and professional trading standards that we uphold.”

  • STF, UKInbound and ABTA call for new digital youth visa

    School Travel Forum, UKInbound and ABTA have written to the Prime Minister to draw attention to the disruption faced by school and youth group travel operators as a result of recent UK border policy changes. The decision to end the acceptance of EU ID cards for entry to the UK, the UK’s exit from the Listed Travellers Scheme, and the decision to no longer accept collective passports are making it increasingly challenging for student groups to travel from the UK into Europe and from the EU into the UK. In a letter sent to the Prime Minister, the three organisations highlight how these policy decisions have presented considerable barriers to group travel and have increased time taken to process groups at the border. The UK travel and tourism industry has called for the establishment of a new youth-group visa application process that is fully digitalised, works in collaboration with ETAs and supports the 2025 UK Border Strategy. This would allow students under the age of 18 that have an ID Card, and therefore the right to live in the EU, and third country nationals that have settled in the EU to travel to the UK as part of an educational or cultural group if accompanied by a teacher of supervisor over 18 years old that is travelling on a passport. The group supports similar measures for young British nationals to facilitate outbound trips. You can read a full copy of the letter here:

  • 21 years of helping schools travel with confidence

    In the early 2000s a how we arranged holidays and trips was changing. The internet and the world wide web was opening up new opportunities. Ferries and flights could be booked in just a few clicks. Same too for hotels. We were becoming our own travel agents. The incentive to 'do it yourself' was very appealing and there was the chance to save some money along the way. But many were entering this world oblivious to the potential pitfalls and problems, especially when organising a trip for a large group. Giving teachers confidence to organise school trips In 2002 a small group of specialist tour and travel operators came together united in the desire to support schools and ensure children and young people enjoyed the transformational benefits that school trips could provide. Their focus was to look at how the process of organising a school trip could be made easier, how the burden of bureaucracy could be reduced and how the sector could provide assurance as to standards of health and safety so teachers, and pupils, could travel with confidence. Setting the standards for school trips The group created a set of standards that worked across the sector, whether it was a sports tour, languages trip, historical tour, geography, arts, music...These guidelines set agreed minimum standards for each aspect of a school trip, from the transport to the accommodation to activities offered. Creating a school trip community Wanting all companies in the sector to benefit from these developments, the group formalised and became known as the School Travel Forum. A forum open to anyone working in the educational travel sector. Run by its members, for its members, for 21 years the School Travel Forum has been safeguarding standards in educational travel. In 2008 when government introduced the LOtC Quality Badge, STF adopted this award as the benchmark for safety and standards. Supporting schools and the sector Over the years, STF has grown and now represents the leading providers of educational travel opportunities for schools and groups. Our members benefit from a range of support including guidance and access to a dedicated member helpline. While teachers know that when they see the School Travel Forum logo they can be assured that their travel operator has passed a detailed and independent audit of their safety management processes and the quality of the educational experience. We are delighted to have reached this milestone and look forward to celebrating with our members and partners at our national conference in London on Friday 24 November. Be part of our 21st conference Celebrate with us and align your brand with the best in educational travel - join us as sponsor of our 21st anniversary conference. We have a range of sponsorship opportunities, get in touch to reserve the best slot for your company.

  • What to consider when planning an overseas educational visit

    Planning an overseas educational visit It can take up to 12 months to organise a successful overseas educational visit so whilst the pandemic continues to have an effect on international travel, many school and youth groups are already planning future trips for the multitude of benefits that these experiences bring and the impact they have on young people’s learning and personal development. What to consider when planning an overseas trip Most countries have clear policies regarding the entry requirements for vaccinated and non-vaccinated adults. For children, entry requirements are often based on the country’s own vaccination policy for children and whether children are travelling with a fully vaccinated adult. If you are travelling with young people under the age of 18 it is important to do your research so that you are clear on the details and have all the information you need. Once you have decided on the destination for your school or group trip, there are a number of things to check including: The latest Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice for the country you are planning to visit. The FCDO has a wealth of information including entry requirements, health advice and other mandatory requirements. You can also find links to the relevant destination authority website for your visit, here you can find specific information relating to that country. Read the TravelHealthPro fact sheet for travelling with children Is your travel or tour provider a School Travel Forum member? As well as holding the LOtC Quality Badge, as advised by the Department for Education, our members are also members of ABTA, giving you extra assurance regarding safety management, financial protection and quality of learning. Check your travel insurance and make sure you understand what is and what is not covered What you need to check Are children permitted to enter the country when travelling with a fully vaccinated adult or are they only permitted to enter the country with a fully vaccinated parent? Are children required to take PCR or lateral flow before travel or are they exempt from pre-departure tests? Are children required to take PCR or lateral flow on arrival in the destination or are they exempt from tests? What COVID tests do you need to book – based on the ages of children within your party. Do you and other group leaders need to provide proof of being fully vaccinated? Do children over the age of 12 need to provide proof of part-vaccinated status? As you approach your departure date Keep up to date with the latest information from the FCDO on travelling with children Check the Department for Education for their latest guidance See the National Guidance from the Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel, the OEAP provide guidance for schools and colleges regarding educational visits and learning outside the classroom Read all the literature provided to you by your travel provider Remember to check the current rules for returning to the UK for children – based on the ages of the children within your party. When returning to the UK. Each national has their own advice: England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland If you have any questions, your STF / ABTA travel provider will be able to point you in the right direction. At the time of writing the information available for schools, colleges, youth groups on travelling with unvaccinated or single dose vaccination children is minimal. Information for parents Benefits of using a School Travel Forum member If your school is using a School Travel Forum member for their trip, you can have confidence that their tour organiser is operating to the highest of standards. All School Travel Forum members hold the LOtC Quality Badge. Backed by the Department for Education, this accreditation recognises safety management, including infection control, and the quality of learning provided. STF members are also ABTA members, giving you extra confidence about the security of your child’s school trip. If you have any questions about your child’s educational visit do talk to your school and/or the group leader. What to do in the lead up to your child’s trip The group leader and travel provider organising your child’s trip will be keeping up to date with the latest FCDO advice and guidance from the chosen destination country. You can support the group leader by ensuring all documentation is up to date and ready – e.g passports and proof of your child’s vaccination status. Your group leader will contact you in good time with exact details of what is needed. Useful links: See the FCDO for advice on travelling with children The Department for Education also has updates and specific information relating to school or youth group trips. Remember, if you have any questions do talk to the group leader.

  • Legal challenge launched against Department for Education travel advice

    Press Release: 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 measures 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 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 the 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. 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 to 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.”

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