School trips can resume from April 12 as organisers say they will boost children’s mental health
School day trips can resume from April 12 and residential visits can begin from May 17, the Department for Education has announced, as organisers suggested they will help students’ mental health recovery. New Government guidance published on Friday says schools can begin booking trips for the summer term, in line with steps two and three of the coronavirus roadmap. Teachers and outdoor education bosses said the trips would help students’ mental health recover after a punishing year of home learning and social isolation. Simon Beardall, Headteacher of Deer Park Primary School in Chesterfield, told the Telegraph the “fantastic” move would give pupils an “opportunity to socialise and grow and learn and experience things with their friends”. “A lot of the learning they have been doing has been remote, and this allows them to do it for real as opposed to virtually,” he said. “This is actually giving them an experience to challenge themselves for real both physically and mentally, that has got to be a good thing.” Organisers of residential visits for schools have been lobbying ministers to update the guidance with information about school trips since the roadmap was revealed earlier this year. Bosses argue that outdoor education visits can take place within classroom “bubbles” and point out that the roadmap allows hotels to operate from step three in May. Anthony Jones, the CEO of the largest provider, PGL, said the coronavirus lockdown had “disproportionately affected the nation’s children”. “Over the last year, so many children and young people have been locked down in cities and towns with restricted opportunities to connect with each other or with nature,” he said. “We are delighted to play our role in helping them recover from this awful pandemic.” In January NHS figures showed children being referred with serious mental health problems had reached a record high – up nearly 20 per cent on the previous year. The Royal College of Psychiatrists said school closures risked mental health problems becoming a “lifelong” illness for the current generation of students. Friday’s guidance hinted that the Treasury would underwrite the cost of trips booked before the summer term, giving schools confidence to book visits. Many commercial insurance policies will not cover Covid-related cancellations if the booking was made after the beginning of the pandemic. The Department of Education said more details on the plans would be released “as soon as they are available”. The guidance also confirms that international school trips will not be allowed to take place until the conclusion of a wider Government review into foreign travel.