So Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary of State, wants teachers to ignore the country’s rampant blame culture and mustn’t let it prevent them taking children away on school trips. Oh yes? This to teachers who have had to endure the aftermath of school trips which have gone wrong and the ensuing nightmare of local and national government enquiries, antagonistic parents and hand-rubbing lawyers intent on screwing them to the wall.
Some of us have recollections of a bygone age in the 1950s when life was a lot less grabbing, and much less materialistic. When, if you tripped over a raised paving stone, you would shrug and vow to open your eyes in future, and when kids fell off swings onto concrete without running home to copy down the accident lawyer’s telephone number from the telly. The picture of teachers these days voluntarily and cheerfully escorting children into thrilling adventurous escapades ….. forget it, mate! Disasters happen and always have, and if a teacher is to blame, they should be held to account, but in this day and age, it appears that teachers are automatically guilty until they are proved innocent.
The same scenario applies to care workers taking children on trips and on holiday. Fewer and fewer teachers and care workers are prepared to do this. Risk assessment forms have to be completed on everything from the possibility of breaking fingernails to proof of a degree in sailing if the children are to be allowed anywhere near water. As far as I am concerned, nobody in their right mind would volunteer for this task.
In a sense, who can blame the cash chasers? – everything has its price. Loss of a toe – £20,000. Lose your big toe – £30,000. Lose your virginity – think of a number! And who carries the can? – the accompanying care worker or teacher. It’s like winning the lottery. All you have to do is find someone to blame and instruct the disaster-chaser lawyer to make your claim.
There’s no turning back from this compensation culture society now. It’s too late to say, “Accidents will happen. Learn to live with it, just like we used to.”
The Education Secretary is living in cloud-cuckoo-land if he thinks that governmental pleas will carry any weight with those who care for children, when they are asked to take all the risks in the game, and when the odds are stacked so much against them. Speaking personally, I’m glad I’m out of the game, and these days, I wouldn’t even babysit unless I had a couple of independent witnesses with me at all times.