Safe in India with The School Travel Company
(formerly iDiscover India)
The School Travel Company’s India programmes conform to BS 8848: 2014. Self Declared, as iDiscover India, on 11th September 2014
The School Travel Company established, and will maintain, a system for managing safety which is based on detailed risk assessments and the operating procedures to minimise the likelihood and severity of the risks. This system is updated every trip by senior staff. Party leaders will also get the chance to check the risk assessments themselves on the free inspection visit. We also have in place an emergency response procedure which includes 24/7 backup both in Delhi and in our UK office.
We have chosen the accommodation we offer with care. Some of it is very basic but we do check to make sure that it is suitably safe. We audit the accommodation in the same way we would in Europe and if we do not think somewhere is safe to stay in we wouldn’t use it. We choose accommodation carefully, on the basis of safety, hygiene, location, comfort and suitability for school, college and youth groups and families. We can provide you with risk assessments and audit reports to ensure that you know in advance exactly what facilities are provided.
Our programmes are designed specifically for groups: schools; colleges; youth groups; families. The adventurous activities element is tightly controlled and is provided in conjunction with two leading adventure companies in India. The adventurous activities included in some of our programmes are not expeditions, they do not require participants to train in advance, nor do they require a mountain leader to travel from the UK with the group. Our groups do not travel independently. They trek and travel only on routes and in areas which we have already prepared and risk assessed.
But it is not just the adventurous element which needs to be properly managed and led. All parts of the programme require participants to be closely supported and supervised.
Travel is a very rewarding part of the India trips and is at times challenging. Certainly you have to be able to get up early and to travel by train overnight. You may be travelling by coach stopping at remote villages, or travelling by train pitching up at railway stations teeming with life. You will find yourself inching your way through traffic jams in an auto rickshaw or travelling by taxi through crowded market places – what better way to soak up the spirit of real India. We do all we reasonably can to get the most appropriate transport arrangements in place for you. Where they can, our vehicles travel in convoy.
SUPERVISION & CONTROL
A key responsibility for the leaders of any trip is to ensure that all participants are supervised appropriately. In practical terms for our programmes in India all groups are divided into sub groups of around 11 each led by a School Travel Company Guide Leader and a responsible adult appointed by the Party Leader. Together with the Party Leader we finalise the arrangements for safety to ensure that they take into account the needs of the group and each of its members. Having qualified Indian guide leaders, fluent in local languages and able to speak English and armed with local knowledge and information is the first step.
For each and every trip we employ a Senior Guide Leader who is appropriately qualified and experienced. The Senior Guide Leader works with the Party Leader to manage the trip from arrival in the airport through to airport departure. Each group is sub divided into sub groups or cells, each with one responsible adult provided by the group, and one guide leader provided by us. Cell size is usually 10-12 + responsible adult + guide leader. The qualifications and experience of our guide leaders is impressive; please ask us to send you copies.
The second step we take to manage safety is to provide The School Travel Company’s Guide Leaders and the party leader with our detailed Risk Management System and train them in its use. In addition all participants are briefed regularly to ensure that they play their part in protecting themselves and others. We send party leaders notes to help prepare their group. On arrival in India the guide leaders provide initial training to ensure that everyone knows that they must follow best practice, and observe key rules to keep safe and healthy. This is followed by a short, written test to identify any group member who is unaware of the measures they need to take.
OUR LOCAL PARTNERS
The third step we take to managing safety is the choice of partners to work with in India. We have formed close links with three outstanding providers, professional and expert in the taking responsibility for young people in the outdoors. They have the expertise and the resources to support our programmes. This gives us huge strength and confidence in its operations in India.
STRENGTH IN DEPTH
You will see from the documents we send when you book that our strength goes deep. We regularly use the same destinations and so offer trips which have been rehearsed. For all programmes we know the local area and we have immediate backup when required. We have links with local hospitals and GP’s surgeries throughout, and know how best to call upon the emergency services when necessary.
All party leaders should join an inspection visit where The School Travel Company’s safety management and risk assessments are audited and where party leaders are trained.
All accommodation is risk assessed and audited by us and restricted to venues suitable for groups of young people.
Trekking routes are restricted to those we have risk assessed and approved.
OFFICE IN DELHI
We have an office in New Delhi with UK & local staff on hand 24/7. You will be accompanied throughout by a School Travel Company Guide Leader.
Our senior technical advisor oversees the programmes to ensure that that all activities conform where possible to UK governing body guidelines.
BENCHMARKING AND ACCREDITATION
We use as our benchmarks: the standards of learning and safety as required by The Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC), the Code of Practice and Safety Management Standards required by The School Travel Forum and British Activity Providers’ Association’s Code of Practice.
For your financial protection we are fully bonded members of ABTA and have an ATOL from the CAA.