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#1 Posted : 04 December 2000 11:16:00(UTC)
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Posted By Jerry Sanderson
We are currently in the process of preparing new work experience guidelines for schools within our LEA to reflect our new vetting arrangements.We have always been very clear that no pupil should be allowed to attend a work experience placement within this country unless it has been vetted and approved by a competent person.Guidance relating to work experience abroad however has always been far more sketchy.I have suggested to our management that we should not be supporting work experience placements abroad as their is no way we can ensure the safety of the placement and thus the pupil.One of our Senior Managers however thinks this conflicts with some recent DFEE guidance on "twinning" which encourages work experience as a method of setting up links with overseas schools.
I would therefore welcome any comments on this issue.I would particularly welcome information from colleagues in other LEAs as to what position they have adopted as regards work experience abroad.

Regards.

Jerry.
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#2 Posted : 04 December 2000 16:19:00(UTC)
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Posted By MALCOLM HAMILTON
I would make some suggestion with regards to your problem.

Have a look at the IOSH technical data sheet that deals with employment abroad

The Scottish Further Education Unit has published guidence on general work placements it is a excelent document if you contact them I am sure they will send you a copy. They might also be able to help specifically with placements abroad.

These two publications put together should give you adequate information to argue a good case against workplacements abroad.
As lets face it school trips abroad are bad enought.

Hope this helps
Malcolm

SFEU
01786 892000
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#3 Posted : 04 December 2000 16:37:00(UTC)
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Posted By Lisa Fowlie
Forgive me for the comment but I was always under the impression that health and safety was an 'enabler' ie you can do things - like have work placements abroad - but this is the 'safe' way to do it, as a pose to a 'preventer' ie we would really like to let you go on a work placement abroad but 'health and safety' says you can't.
Negative attitudes can make individuals jobs easier but doesn't help produce a positive result for the image of the safety profession as a whole.
Regards,
Lisa.
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#4 Posted : 04 December 2000 22:43:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ken Taylor
Here's a response from the independent sector.
Presumably you have the various publications from the DfEE and the HSE on work experience.
We would only want to support work experience abroad for pupils who have attained the age of 16 years. In addition to the usual procedures for school trips abroad, we require parents to sign to the effect that: they are willing for their son or daughter to undertake work experience if offered or supported by a host family (engaged through our normal procedures); they accept that this is an arrangement entered into by the pupil and not by us and that we cannot attest to the suitability of the employment or work conditions and that we will not, therefore be held liable or responsible for the arrangement and anything arising therefrom; and that they believe their son/daughter to be sufficiently mature and confident to cease the work experience if they believe the working environment to be inadequate or unsafe and to report this to the host family and to the representative of the school.
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#5 Posted : 05 December 2000 08:08:00(UTC)
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Posted By Bob Howden
While I fear that I might be starting to sound like a worn out record, I would suggest that you ask your local TEC for some advice.

I used to work for a TEC in the East Midlands and know that we had a booklet on trainees working abroad, some of the points would apply equally to school work experience.

In the past I found the book "Work Experience & The Law" by Tony Johns very useful. It has a whole chapter about placing students abroad.

Your Government Office in Nottingham may also be able to provide advice.

I would also suggest that you find out what the new Learning and Skills Councils are going to be doing before you firm up your guidelines. My understanding is that the DfEE would like to see an all encompassing database of placements, with all interested organisations sharing information. One vetting visit to suit all types of placement.

Email me at bob.howden@edinburgh.gov.uk if you would like more detailed information contacts, etc.

Regards


Bob Howden

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#6 Posted : 05 December 2000 10:13:00(UTC)
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Posted By Jerry Sanderson
In response to the message posted by Lisa, I am sorry if this appears petty but I felt that your comments required an answer.Far from being the easy option saying "no"is often more difficult as it requires detailed and comprehensive explanation to justify why you are preventing something from happening.
It must be great to work in an environment where positive promotion of the safety profession is the overriding concern.Unfortunately in the real world this is secondary to the role of the safety professional namely ensuring that the Employer complies with legislation and is therefore protected from prosecution or civil actions.This can generally best be achieved by ensuring the employer has systems in place to protect the health and safety of employees and non employees affected by their undertaking.
Where no resonably practicable method of ensuring this can be devised then it may mean saying no.This appeared to be the case with this issue which is why I asked for comments from colleagues.
Forgive me if my comments appear negative but as an experienced safety professinal I was asking colleagues for constructive advice on this issue,not for someone to tell me about self promotion.

Regards.

Jerry
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#7 Posted : 06 December 2000 13:20:00(UTC)
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Posted By Stuart Nagle
Firstly, I am sorry to say that I think Ken Taylors comments above are a cop out.

mearly to try and ensure you are passing the buck for responsibility is not the way forward, and as far as health and safety is concerned, english case has shown that responsibility for ensuring this cannot be delegated.

I would suggest that work experience abroad, in the short term, should be limited to other member states of the EU, who are intrinsically required to have the same standards as the UK for safety and health where regulations or orders have been given by the EU itself.

Following on from this, a select list of companies could be drawn up which have a single European standard for health and safety for employees and others (probably the larger commercial companies) working within their organisation. There are, I am sure, many of these judging by the pan european nature of businesses practicing in the UK.

Of course Schools get parents to sign consent forms for trips overseas on holiday. However working and employment are an entirely different beast.

Stuart Nagle
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#8 Posted : 06 December 2000 16:06:00(UTC)
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Posted By Richard
I agree with Stuart. You are the professional and you cannot transfer responsibility to the parent(s), or worse to the student.

Does anyone seriously believe that a young person would refuse to go on a work placement abroad because they thought it was, or might become, dangerous?

Come on, this is the real world. Young people believe themselves to be totally invincible and invulnerable, and long may that continue.

A placement is an employee in virtually all respects, and a risk assesment should be carried out just as for any other employee working abroad, using all the knowledge and prebvious experience available.

A reasoned and professional decision should then be made, not forgetting to inform the parents of the result where applicable

Richard
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#9 Posted : 06 December 2000 21:14:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ken Taylor
Stuart. I think you are missing the point of the position we are taking. We allow work experience abroad as part of exchange visits whereby pupils live with host families in France, Spain, Germany, etc. Even then the work experience has to be either offered by the host family themselves or agreed by them. The exchange visits are organised through all the usual checks using tried and tested agencies. We cannot, however, carry out visits to these employers and make all the usual checks that we do for UK work experience - it isn't reasonably practicable to do so and protracted correspondence and exchange of paperwork would be likely to fail or result in the offer being withdrawn or running out of time. We, therefore, also restrict work experience to pupils of 16 and over (ie of an age when they could start work on their own in this country. It is also important for the parent to accept the arrangement on this basis and to fully realise the position. As the host parent is also acting in loco parentis they too must assent to the situation. We see practical experience of work whilst using another language as valuable experience to the pupil and do not want to take the easy option of not allowing it. We must, however, also protect ourselves in law and make it clear that this is a person of working age taking a short term job with the approval of their parents and those who are looking after them abroad. In effect, the jobs are usually connected with the employment of one of the host parents (eg in their shop or office) or a close friend of their family. The question of approved lists and regularly used employers does not arise as they tend to be different people each time. Please be assured that we follow the DfEE guidance for UK work experience - but this is a very different situation.

Incidentally, I'm still waiting to hear what Education Authorities have to offer in response to this thread!
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#10 Posted : 07 December 2000 09:28:00(UTC)
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Posted By Stuart Nagle
Ken.

I read your reply with interest. A few points:

1)Why is it that an organisations such as the education sector, with the amount of clout you have, have not insisted that the agencies you use perform better in respect of;

planning, H&S checks, ensuring conditions ? I would suggest that if they are acting as your agents for employment is it reasonably practicable for them to have done this !!

2) The fact that the pupils are 16 or a little over has nothing to do with. In fact, legally (as you state) there is an legal duty of care to ensure the health, safety and welfare of young people at work !! over and above the requirements for more mature workers.

3) Parents of children should be assured that these things are done, not expected to accept responsibility that you have not checked, your agents have not checked, and the testimony of another person is relied upon to say it's all OK !!

Obviously, as you state, if many of the 'host' parents are running their own businesses, then information on their health and safety provisions should be available to yourselves (even through your agents), as they must also comply with the EU H&S regulations and orders...!!

4) through protection your pupils you will be protecting yourselves. If you are not doing everything so far as reasonably practicable, then you will also be found at fault in the event of an incident !!

5) given that (I assume) reasonably large amounts of cash are directed into these schemes, basic checks, pre-palnning, approved lists and audits, should, I would have thought, been part of the process. If this is not being done by yourselves or your agents or the Dpt for Education, it would appear there is rather large hole in the system that any accomplished Barrister/Lawer may be able to drive a bus through.

I would urge serious consideration of reviewing the system and putting some basic checks in place. At present, to assume all is Ok is neither satisfactory or reasonably practicable !!

Regards...

Stuart Nagle
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#11 Posted : 07 December 2000 10:34:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ken Taylor
Stuart. Work experience can be generally considered under 4 categories:

1. Where organised by the school.
DfEE guidance is to be followed here. This involves pre-visits, monitoring visits, information exchange, records, etc, etc. There are some agencies who will provide work experience abroad here - but this has not arisen with us.

2. Where the parents make recommendations for their child's work experience and the school accepts these.
DfEE guidance is to be followed here as above.

3. Where the parents wish to make their own arrangements and the school agrees.
Here the parents are informed of the needs of health and safety and sign disclaimers. We have had a few pupils working abroad under this arrangement in our schools over the past few years.

4. Where work experience arises as part of language/cultural exchange trips abroad.
This can arise suddenly and on an ad hoc basis. There is a need for the parent to have agreed to this eventuality before an offer is made either by or through the host family. This is why we use the disclaimer to which I referred which has been worded so as only to allow the work if both the parents and the host family have agreed.

We do not limit the arrangements to the EEC as we have exchanges beyond this and a number of our pupils have parents and relatives in other countries with whom they wish work experience to take place (USA, Hong Kong, etc).

Work experience abroad presents difficulties in terms of health and safety assessment and monitoring. Some will look at this and conclude its not worth doing - as suggested by the originator of this thread. Others may feel that they can organise this adequately (I am waiting to hear from them). We feel that it is worthwhile and, whilst we are not in a position to organise it ourselves, we allow it to take place with the necessary consents and disclaimers. Are there others organising it without assessments and controls?
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#12 Posted : 07 December 2000 18:59:00(UTC)
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Posted By Stuart Nagle
Ken.

From your responses, I feel that you are satisfied that those you may represent within the education sector are protected adequately against prosecution in the event of an incident arising. Having directions which advise.

Whilst I fully understand the arguments you put forward, they seem purely to argue for protection of the establishment, and do not seem to seek improvements for those the establishment may be responsible for, the students, which seems to show a nonchalant attitude by the establishment, albeit I am sure, untrue.

I for one, as a parent of teenage children, would be concerned with the stance taken and comments, as it appears that regardless of the potential outcomes and knowing that potential for improvements could be made, certainly by the agents, (after all, they should provide a service level that is acceptable, and obviously there is room for improvement in the system.) that maintenance of the status quo protectionist stance is taken rather than looking to seek improvement.

I am aware that many, such as yourself perhaps, may have work within guidlines laid down elsewhere, but this surely does not prevent or preclude individual establishments or elements going the extra mile to demand or make increased efforts to produce improved systems.

I do not wish to make comparisons, but one's mind is draw to the situation in recent times concerning student deaths on organised holidays with schools. Whilst ghastly, one should reflect that disclaimers sure to have been signed for these persuits did not prevent litigation being persued through the courts.

I am sure that evidentially, if an establishment had known or was aware that improvements could have been made, and not investigated, recommended, taken or warned of the inadequacies, will not go far in assisting in any subsequent legal defence should an incident occur.

I know the task may be onerous, however, I am sure that parents would welcome any organisations efforts, which, I am sure in the long term would provide dividends.

Stuart Nagle

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#13 Posted : 07 December 2000 21:56:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ken Taylor
Stuart. This seems to have turned into a two-way conversation.

For the ideal world we would be following your altruistic approach but, as is sometimes the case, we have to do what can be done whilst seeking to keep the employer within the requirements of legislation. Teachers are very busy people these days and time is very precious. At the end of the day those in our schools who want work experience abroad do get it and benefit considerably. Many more get very good work experience in the UK with all the support we can give. Our parents and pupils are satisfied and extremely good examination results are achieved. I feel it would be a great pity if others are put off by the problems of assessing and monitoring at great distances in other languages and cultures and go for the easy option of not allowing it.

Like the originator of this thread, I really would like to hear what others in this field are doing in this respect
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#14 Posted : 08 December 2000 14:38:00(UTC)
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Posted By Jerry Hill
I am currently employed by Sussex Enterprise, the Training Enterprise Council for Sussex and part of my brief is to manage the Health and Safety for Work Experience students in East and West Sussex. Email me direct and I'll give you whatever assistance I can

Regards
Jerry
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