Francesca Breeze's article on school outdoor activity educational visits ("Educating the educators",

6 November, Legal Report) highlights the gulf between the 60% of head teachers and school gover …

Francesca Breeze's article on school outdoor activity educational visits ("Educating the educators", 6 November, Legal Report) highlights the gulf between the 60% of head teachers and school governors identified by the Hull University survey.They are apparently overwhelmed by a "top down" health and safety regulatory culture. Then there is the Portslade Primary head teacher who takes the "bottom up" competence-based approach with a designated trained staff member and a second undergoing the same training to lead school visits.While insurers have a role in helping to implement a robust risk assessment and management programme for outdoor activities, in reality this is a grass roots responsibility - don't train health and safety personnel in local education authorities in risk assessment, train the teachers. The four key factors that the head has to know about a school visit are:

Who is leading it?

Are they competent?

Have they been before?

Do they have alternative plans if conditions require an activity to be cancelled? The role of the insurer, once satisfied with the client's competence and management procedures, is to provide appropriate cover and also advise the client and staff on how to be properly prepared for possible compensation culture claims. Having recently carried out a risk assessment survey of all outdoor activity centres licensed by the AALA, we believe that there is currently room for improvement in both the management of the provision of outdoor activities by centres and schools and the provision of appropriate cover and client education and advice by insurers. The following examples are products of "top down" document-based thinking, rather than a grass roots competence based approach. First, blanket exclusions by insurers of certain activities are not always supported by industry-wide evidence of past accidents and claims and take no account of management competence. Second, there is scope for a greater involvement of the client in the decision making of whether or not a claim should be resisted. Finally, have the relative merits of a 'claims made' or a 'losses occurring' policy wording been clearly explained to the client?James Murray WillisCTBS Insurance SolutionsSend letters to: Insurance Times, 30 Cannon Street, London, EC4M 6YJ or email letters@instimes.co.uk or fax : 020 7618 3499