One very important part of effective field trip planning requires that parents be informed and give permission for their child to participate in the activity.
The type of Permission/Acknowledgment Form that is widely used by Ontario School Boards and that we feel is most effective is an Informed Consent.
The purpose of an Informed Consent demonstrates that the school (or school board) acted as “a reasonable and prudent person” in informing the participant and his/her parents that there were inherent risks associated with specific activities, and that certain injuries may result if the student participated.
The Informed Consent does not relinquish rights to sue or absolve legal liability for negligent acts – in other words, the right to sue remains if a student is injured due to a negligent act.
Elements of Risk
The “Elements of Risk” section is especially important. Parents should be aware of the risks of an activity. The more specific and extensive, the better.
Appendix 1b (page 13) of the OSBIE/OSRA Ski Package. Under the heading of “Inherent Risks” the form states:
“Skiing is a sport with physical demands and inherent risks which are beyond the control of (name of school board). Falls, collisions and other incidents may occur and cause injury. Skiers must assume the risks and dangers”.
- Informed Consent with Blank Elements of Risk
We believe this type of form eliminates the probable contention by parents of an injured child that the child would not have been allowed to participate in the sport/activity, if the parent had known about the dangers and risks associated with it.
There is also a sample of a Release and Indemnification Form that may be used for students 18 and over. These students are considered adults and can sign binding release forms.
School boards should also recognize that English or French are not always spoken in all households, and that parents in these households may need special notification that these documents are very important and may require them to get an explanation in their own language.
Appendix 1a (page 12) from the OSBIE/OSRA Ski Package provide a sample of a Multi-lingual notice.