Karate Issues - Advice and Guidance on Trips Away from the Club or Dojo

Many Karate clubs take their students to compete nationally and internationally and this may involve overnight stays.

It is essential that the club has health and safety and child protection policies in place before this happens and that they are adhered to at all times. Safety and child protection should never be compromised.
Taking groups of students out of the Dojo is one of the most potentially hazardous things that any instructor may be called upon to do. All clubs have a responsibility to produce guidelines on the procedures for trips, transport and outside activities relating to the age and grade of the students.
Consider travel and out of Dojo arrangements as part of your whole club’s approach to health and safety so that you can do the following:

  • Understand the importance of carrying out risk assessment for competitions both nationally and internationally.
  • Provide the best protection for instructors and students when they are away from the club.
  • Ensure that identified procedures are correctly followed.
  • Provide parents with reassurance that one of the prime interests of the club is for the health and safety of the students
  • Cover yourself legally and enable your club to consider legal requirements in relation to best practice.
  • Ensure successful, enjoyable and stress-free trips and competitions.
  • Ensure your club has clear aims and objectives in relation to the trip.
  • Ensure adequate preparation.
  • Clarify procedures and lines of responsibility.
  • Consider arrangements for children travelling safely to and from venues.
  • Identify the additional training needs of instructors.
  • Identify resource needs.
  • Enable all costs to be evaluated and taken into account.

All trips to competitions require meticulous planning and organisation. Assess the potential dangers and plan to avoid them.

Your club’s policy should include the following:

  • A statement of what kinds of competitions are acceptable; to whom they should and should not be accessible; and the code of conduct expected of instructors and students while away from the Dojo.
  • The consultation requirements (National Governing Body, Governing Body, Instructors, Parents, etc.).
  • Planning and organisation procedures.
  • Financial procedures. (includes which activities can be organised by the club without having to enter into new arrangements for the protection of moneys paid. Seek advice about the Foreign Travel and EC Directive on Package Travel).
  • Insurance requirements.
  • Safety and discipline codes.

Clubs have a duty of care towards students and in an activity where there is an element of risk, you will need to show that you have considered, and as a result taken "all reasonable precautions". As part of your legal health and safety duties, your club will need to show that there is effective communication at all levels.

The following is just a guideline of responsible practice.

The Governing Body

  • Is responsible for the negligence of any instructor which arises in the course of their employment.
  • Should provide guidelines for procedures on trips, including instructor to student ratio.
  • Should offer advice on insurance.

Clubs

  • Are responsible for the general conduct of their clubs.
  • Can modify Governing Body policy for the clubs activities.
  • Must ensure that arrangements are in accordance with Governing Body guidelines and regulations.
  • Must ensure that the club can run efficiently in absence of anyone on the trip.

Chief Instructor

  • Is responsible for seeing that the Governing Body's and club’s Policy is implemented (in accordance with own conditions of employment).
  • Has a responsibility to ensure that all club trips comply with Governing Body and club regulations in every respect; and if this responsibility is delegated, it must be to a "competent" person.
  • Must ensure that the trip is properly planned and supervised and that the students safety is paramount.

Instructors

  • Have a common law duty to act as a "reasonable parent".
  • Must ensure the meticulous planning and preparation of the trip including a risk assessment of all activities.
  • Are responsible for all students in their care throughout the entire trip.
  • Must safeguard the health and safety of students at all times.
  • Must maintain good order and discipline at all times.

Child to Responsible Adult Ratios

Many questions are asked about child to responsible adult ratios for trips both nationally and internationally and there is no definitive answer to be given. The ratio will depend on a number of factors:

  • The age, sex and ability of the students.
  • The number of students involved.
  • Students with special educational or medical needs.
  • Their previous experiences of being away from the club and of the activities involved.
  • The degree of responsibility and discipline shown by the group.
  • The type of trip and the nature of the activities involved.
  • The amount of risk.
  • The location and travel arrangements.
  • The time of year.
  • The experience and quality of the supervisory instructors available.
  • Requirements of the organisation or location to be visited.
  • First aid cover.

If any of the students have special educational needs, there should be a higher instructor to student ratio.
Ratios in themselves do not guarantee safety. In all cases, the duty remains with the Chief Instructor or Coach to ensure adequate supervision for the particular group and for the particular activity.
A judgment can only be made when all the risks have been assessed if in doubt, increase the number of adult supervisors and in mixed groups have at least one male and one female instructor.

Planning a Trip
Preparation and planning are the key to a successful and safe trip. This depends to a large extent on the coach’s ability to carry out an accurate risk assessment; to foresee all the dangers and difficulties and to make plans to avoid them. Advance planning could reveal that to allow a particular activity or the whole trip could expose children to unacceptable levels of risk. Although it is very disappointing to cancel a trip, it is the only responsible course of action to take.

Trip Checklist

  • What is the purpose of the trip or visit?
  • Where are you going and for how long?
  • Do you need the club’s consent? Have you got it?
  • How big a group do you want to take? Who do you want to take?
  • Do you know all the students you will be taking? Who has special needs? Who suffers from travel sickness? Who can take responsibility? Who has special skills (e.g. first aid)?
  • Do you have the Governing Body's and other guidance on trips? Do you need any further advice?
  • Who are the Chief Instructor and Coach of the trip? Are they competent people?
  • Do you need to make a preliminary visit? Have you been before? Do you know anyone else who has been to the same place?
  • What activity/activities will be involved? Make a list.
  • Have you done a risk assessment for all the activities? What are the significant hazards and risks? Have you planned to avoid them? Can you avoid them? Do you need professional advice?
  • What are the travel arrangements? Have you done a risk assessment for them? Have you planned food and rest stops?
  • What supervision levels (instructor to student ratio) do you need and why? Have you recorded all details of your decision with regard to this?
  • Have you got parental consent for each child? Have you given parents all the essential information? What, if anything, do you need to know from the parents?
  • Is your communication network in place (now and for the duration of the trip)? Who will keep copies of all the details? Where will they be kept?
  • Do you have adequate insurance to cover the trip?
  • Are the financial arrangements in order? What protection of payments is in place? Do you need advice?
  • What is the First Aid provision? Is the first aid kit in good working order? Who will look after the first aid kit? Is there a first-aid trained adult on the trip?
  • Do any of the students require medication? Who will look after it? Who will administer it? Take advice.
  • What are the emergency procedures if anything should go wrong? Does everyone know them? Have they been understood and practised?
  • Is the programme for the trip now agreed by all relevant parties?

Information to parents
For trips the club will require written consent of parents and in order for parents to give consent, they need all the available information - suitable for their own needs. Parents should also be given full details of the insurance cover you have in place to protect their children.
Parents are also a source of information for the club when a trip is being organised. Exchanges of information should, ideally, be done in writing. Where this is not possible, keep written records of details given orally. Sign and date them.

Insurance
No trip can go ahead unless there is adequate insurance. The National Governing Body or Governing Body should advise you on this crucial element of a trip.

your insurance should cover:

  • Personal injury - covers death, major injury, loss of limbs or eyes, permanent or partial disability. Check that insurance covers students as well as instructors.
  • Public liability - covers against the risk of an award of compensation where a legal claim is made against the organisers/supervisors of the trip for the death, injury or illness of a person.
  • Medical and related expenses - covers expenses following an injury or illness.
  • Extra expenses - covers expenses reasonably incurred because of enforced extension or abbreviation of the trip - e.g. strike, civil commotion.
  • Personal effects - covers loss or damage to luggage, clothing, personal effects and loss of money.
  • Hired equipment - if you have hired any equipment for the trip, check under the terms of hire agreement whether you are required to arrange insurance cover for the equipment for the period of hire.
  • Special activities - separate insurance will be necessary when the trip includes high risk activities. Check your policy.
  • Cancellations - covers loss caused by the cancellation of the trip.

Check List
Purpose of trip

  • Competition, training, social, combination.

Communication with parents

  • Pick up times.
  • Destination and venue.
  • Competition details.
  • Kit and equipment list.
  • Emergency procedures, home contact.
  • Consent form.
  • Code of conduct.

Accommodation

  • What type?
  • Catering, special diets, allergies.
  • Suitability for group, accessibility.
  • Room lists.

Hosting or being hosted

  • Hosts vetted.
  • Hosts aware of special requirements.
  • Transport arrangements.
  • Telephone contact.
  • Local map and information.

Transport

  • Journey time and stopping points.
  • Supervision.
  • Suitability and access.
  • Drivers checked.
  • Insurance.
  • Seat Belts.

Supervision / staffing

  • Ratio of staff to athletes.
  • Male/female.
  • Specialist carers.
  • Responsibilities.

Emergency procedures

  • First aid.
  • Special medical information.
  • Medications.
  • E111 form (EU visits).

Insurance

  • Liability.
  • Accident.
  • Travel.
  • Medical.

Costs

  • For trip.
  • Payment schedule deposit, staged payments.
  • Extra meals, refreshments.
  • Spending money.
  • Security.

Documentation

  • Travel tickets.
  • Passports, visas.
  • Check non EU nationals.

Preparing athletes

  • Local culture, language.
  • Food and drink.
  • Currency.
  • Telephones.
  • Maps of area.

Arrival

  • Check rooms, meal times, phones, valuables.
  • Check sporting venue.
  • Collect money, valuables.
  • Information on medications.
  • Arrange group meeting(s).
  • Confirm care and child protection procedures with group/staff.
  • Rules, curfews.

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