SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to holidays and school/organisational trips within the UK for all children in care.
- Holidays in England/Wales
- School / Organisational Trips of up to 4 days Away
- School / Organisational Trips of More than 4 days
1. Holidays in England/Wales
Where there is a proposal for a looked after child to go on holiday in England or Wales, the child's social worker must obtain full information about the holiday, and seek the views of the child and parent as soon as possible.
If the parents consent, their consent must be obtained in writing.
Where the social worker, parent and staff/carer agree to the proposed holiday, the holiday can be approved and should be included in the child's Placement Plan.
For children who are in a long term placement and there is agreement with the Children's Services that the carers have Delegated Authority (see Delegation of Authority to Foster Carers and Residential Workers Procedure), depending upon the nature of the delegation agreed it may be the case that the carers are able to make such decisions themselves. However, good practice should ensure that decisions by the carers are shared in a timely way with the Foster Carer's Social Worker and / or child's social worker.
Children must not be taken on holiday during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances that would be approved by the Social Worker's Manager for the child and the Head of School. Requests must be made in writing. (Note that under the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, the previous ability of headteachers to grant leave of absence for the purpose of a holiday during term time in 'special circumstances' of up to ten school days leave per year has been removed. The 2013 Regulations make clear that headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are 'exceptional circumstances')
Where the social worker considers that the holiday should go ahead despite the parents' opposition and legal advice supports this, the approval of the social worker's manager to the holiday should be sought. The request for such approval should include the legal advice given.
Written confirmation of the manager's decision, together with the reasons, should be provided to the parent.
Where the holiday will involve additional costs, the social worker should obtain approval for the costs from the relevant manager before the holiday can be agreed.
If approved, the holiday should be included in the child's Placement Plan.
Where the holiday will interrupt contact arrangements between the child and parents, consideration should also be given to arranging additional contacts before and or/after the holiday.
2. School / Organisational Trips of up to 4 days Away
The social worker should ensure risk assessments have been conducted.
The child's participation in school/organisational trips should be considered at the time of the placement, and the consultation required before they can be agreed should be included in the Placement Plan.
Where a child is placed with the parents, the Placement Plan will usually provide that a school trip of up to 4 days can be agreed by the social worker in consultation with the school and the parent.
Where a child is placed in foster care or residential care, the Placement Plan will usually authorise the carer to agree to the child going on school or other organisational trips of up to 4 days away without prior consultation with the social worker or the parent - see Social Visits (Including Overnight Stays) Procedure. If the staff/carer have not been so authorised, the child's social worker and parents must be consulted before agreement can be given.
Where parental consent is not given, the social worker should consult their team manager and obtain legal advice as necessary. Where the team manager agrees to the child going on the trip despite parental opposition, the reasons must be recorded and explained to the parent.
3. School / Organisational Trips of More than 4 days
Where the child expresses a wish to go on a school/organisational trip that is for more than 4 days, the following procedure should be followed.
To obtain approval for the trip, the social worker must first obtain full details of the arrangements for the trip including how many staff will be present, and whether all the adults on the trip including volunteers have had the necessary checks.
Social workers should ensure the appropriate procedure has been followed for risk assessments.
The child's social worker must seek the views of the parent, staff/carer and school as soon as possible and decide whether it is appropriate to recommend that the child be allowed to go.
If the social worker considers that it would be appropriate for the child to go on the trip, the social worker must seek the consent of his/her team manager.
The written request for such approval should explain the purpose and length of the trip; the wishes of the child; the views of the parent; the views of the staff/carer (unless the child is placed at home), the views of the school; arrangements for adult supervision on the trip, whether the adults are well known to the child and vice versa and the likely cost and how it is to be funded. The request for approval may be accompanied by a request for financial support.
Where parental consent is not given, the social worker should obtain legal advice and the request to the social worker's team manager should refer to the legal advice given. Where the team manager agrees to the child going on the trip despite parental opposition, the reasons must be recorded and a written explanation should be provided to the parent.