IICA-R1: Field Studies Planning and Implementation

I: Instructions


Student field studies are to be directly related to the curriculum and undertaken only to provide superior and/or supplemental opportunities for learning beyond that which are available in the classroom. 

Specific educational objectives for the learning experience are to be clearly in mind prior to planning the field study and subsequently, all activities should be directed to achieve these ends.

Students should be exposed to a sequential and expanding pattern of field studies as they progress through their school years. 

Evaluation of field studies is recommended to occur at two levels: 

  1. Student learning evaluation, when applicable, in order to determine if educational objectives have been met.
  2. The field study as a whole, to ascertain the quality of the total experience and to share the conclusions with other appropriate members of staff.


Eligibility criteria must be established to define the students who may participate in field study. Eligibility criteria may include definition by grade, class, subject, team or other characteristics related to the delivery of an education program.  Eligibility criteria may also include school code of conduct expectations. 

Parents and guardians may, in whole or in part, financially support supplemental field studies, and will be advised of the Board’s financial hardship policy and procedures.  As outlined in Board policy JN Student Fees, Fines and Financial Hardship no fees shall be charged for field studies during instructional hours where attendance is mandatory and/or assessment will take place (ie. field studies for swimming or hiking need to meet the criteria of Board policy JN).  Information about the Board’s financial hardship policy must be included on the parent consent form.


Preliminary Approval. Educators-in-Charge will obtain the preliminary approval of the Principal for field studies before communication with parents and students, before making commitments, and before commencing fundraising.

Educational Rationale. Educators-in-Charge will submit an educational rationale for the Principal’s approval that explicitly describes how the field study is expected to provide significant educational value related to the school program and curriculum.

School-Wide Impact. Before approving a student field study, the Principal must consider the school-wide effect arising from the absence of Educators-in-Charge and students, and the financial impact of fundraising on the total school community.

Policy Adherence.  The Educator-in-Charge will plan the field study in compliance of Board policies, related regulations and the VSB Field Studies Guidebook.  Before approving the field study the Principal will ensure that the Educator-in-Charge has planned the excursion in compliance of applicable Board policies, related regulations, and the VSB Field Studies Guidebook. 


Field studies approval is dependent on the adherence to Board policies.  No field study activity may proceed unless it has received the appropriate approval, as defined by the applicable field study category.

Category 1: Day Field Studies

  • approval of the Principal 

Category 2: Overnight and Outside the Lower- Mainland Field Studies

  • approval of the Principal
  • approval of the Associate Superintendent-Area no less than 3 weeks before trip commences 
  • approval of the Associate Superintendent must be sought before the field studies plan is presented to or communicated with students and parents and before any funds are collected.

Category 3:  Higher Risk Outdoor Field Studies

  • approval of the Principal
  • approval of the Associate Superintendent-Area no less than 3 weeks before trip commences. 
  • approval of the Associate Superintendent must be sought before the field studies plan is presented to or communicated with students and parents and before any funds are collected

Category 4:  Out of Province Field Studies (Canada and Continental USA)

  • approval of the Principal
  • approval of the Associate Superintendent-Area no less than 6 weeks before trip commences 
  • approval of the Associate Superintendent must be sought before the field studies plan is presented to or communicated with students and parents and before any funds are collected

Category 5:  Extended Off-Continent Field Studies

  • subject to additional approval requirements as outlined in IICA-R2

Obtaining Associate Superintendent Approval: VSB Request For Field Trip form

To secure the approval of the Associate Superintendent for Category 2, 3, 4 and 5 field studies a VSB Request for Field Trip form (REQ-SC-015) must be submitted. 

Attached must be copies of the draft parent information letter, draft parent consent form, and proposed trip Itinerary.  A full disclosure of risks must be included in these documents.  Field Studies Regulation IICA-R2 outlines additional approval requirements for Category 5 field studies.


In all cases, parents must be informed, and provide consent when students are to be absent from school premises through a customized field studies parent consent form.

The information conveyed to parents through the field studies consent form must appropriately disclose all details of the field studies, and provide information on the Board’s financial hardship policy.  The parent signature serves as verification of parental consent and documentation that the parent/guardian received the notice and that the parent/guardian is requesting to have the student participate in the activity.

There are some circumstances where one parent consent form, or an annual consent, may be appropriate for a series of common activities.  For example, a Basketball team travelling to a series of local tournaments, or an elementary class partaking in regular nature walking trips in the local neighbourhood may be covered by one consent form.   

An annual consent (i.e., one form for the whole year) provides the parent or guardian the opportunity to list the activities from which the student is to be excluded, but the onus of responsibility is on the Educator-in-Charge to see that the student does not participate in those activities for the remainder of the school year.

Contents of Parent Permission and Consent Forms

The contents of the parent consent letter must include:

Educational Rationale and Curricular Objectives

Description of the educational purpose and learning objectives of the field study.   

Trip Details

Full disclosure of all activities to be undertaken during the duration of the field study.  Supervision and travel arrangements must also be disclosed through the trip consent form.

Known Risks

The parent consent form must clearly outline all potential known risks of the field study to ensure informed consent is being obtained from the parent/guardian.

Safety Plan

Consent forms must provide indication to parents/guardians that an appropriate safety plan is in place, and the particulars of the safety plan should be made available to parents/guardians for higher-risk outdoor pursuits. 

Behaviour Expectations

All students participating in field studies are expected to comply with the school’s expectation for students and the school’s code of conduct, cooperate fully with all supervisors of a field study, and participate in a responsible and cooperative manner at all times during the field study.

Both parents/guardians and students should be advised of behavioural expectations for any field study.  This includes specific consequences for series behavioural breaches.  For example, if a student will be sent home, at parent expense, from a field study this consequence must be communicated on the parent consent form.  Consent forms should be used to outline student conduct expectations and consequences or, at minimum, must require parent acknowledgment that their child has been informed that he/she is to abide by the rules and regulations of the field study.

For overnight field studies teachers should consider having students, especially those in the senior grades, sign a field studies specific behaviour contract.

Medical Consent

A specific parent emergency medical consent form must be collected in addition to the school-based parent consent form for all Category 2, 3, 4, and 5 field studies.  Medical information about each participant on the field study should also be obtained.


School-based parent consent forms are not considered waivers that release teachers from legal responsibility.

Legally, parents or guardians cannot waive the rights of a minor (the student).   As such, the Board discourages the use of industries/commercial enterprises that require parents to sign student waivers as a condition of participation in field studies.  An industry/commercial enterprise may request signed informed consent of the parent/guardian, in addition to the signed informed consent obtained through the school-based parent consent form. 

If an industry or commercial enterprise insists on a waiver of liability the Educator-in-Charge must, in consultation with the Principal, consider whether the proposed activity and the risks associated with the activity should be pursued.  If it is decided that the activity will go forward, parents must be informed of their legal rights with the following inclusion on the consent form:

_____________ (name of organization) requires a parental waiver for your child

to participate in this activity.  Please be advised that the parental waiver does not

legally waive the rights of a minor (the student) in case of accident or injury.  


Field Studies planning and preparation must include a supervision plan with consideration of: special supervision risk factors affecting the ratio of students to supervisors, needs for specialized skills and qualifications, and the need for female and male supervisors, and students with special needs.

The degree of supervision depends on:

  • the age and maturity of the student,
  • the needs of the students,
  • the inherent danger of the activity,
  • the circumstances of the particular activity (e.g., a trip to the museum would not need as many supervisors as a higher risk outdoor trip).

The Educator-in-Charge is responsible for vigilant supervision of students at all times, and must always be in charge although the Educator-in-Charge may be assisted by volunteer supervisors. Volunteer supervisors must be selected, oriented and supervised to effectively perform their roles.  All supervisors must be knowledgeable of and abide by the Vancouver Board of Education Guidelines for Adults Interacting with Students.

The Educator-In-Charge must ensure that supervision is provided at all times and the volunteer supervisors are informed and competent to deal with emergencies that might arise.

The minimum acceptable standard of supervision for all student field studies, unless specifically required and adjusted by the Principal, or involving Category 3 (Higher Risk Outdoor activities) activities are:


Category 1

 Day Studies

Category 2* Overnight/Outside


Category 3


Category 4*

Out of Province but within Canada & Continental U.S.



2 supervisors

per class

1 supervisor for 8 students


1 supervisor for

 8 students



1 supervisor per class, with additional supervision support required dependent on the activity.


1 supervisor for

10 students

Activity Dependent

1 supervisor for

10 students



1 supervisor per class


1 supervisor for

15 students

Activity Dependent

1 supervisor for

15 students

 Policy IICA-R2 outlines supervision ratios for Category 5 field studies.

Additional supervision is required when:

  • There is an increased risk (see Category 3 requirements).
  • There is participation of students with special needs.
  • There are crowded venues.

Additional supervision requirements will be determined by the Educator-In-Charge of planning the field study, and agreed to by the Principal.  This will be done prior to initiating the required field study approval process.

Gender Specifications for Supervision*

For all overnight excursions, it is recommended that there should be at least two (2) supervisors, no matter the size or age of the group.  For co-educational excursions, supervision must include both male and female adult supervisors

For all higher-risk outdoor pursuits (Category 3), and day field studies where travel extends beyond the Lower-Mainland (Category 2) it is recommended that supervision include both male and female adult supervisors, but it is not required.


Category 3 based field studies entail a level of risk that is higher than activities in which students are normally engaged in at school and must prescribe to the additional following expectations. 

The same planning and preparation criteria as outlined in this policy apply to higher-risk outdoor pursuits.  The fact that higher-risk pursuits are more extensive means that other additional factors must be considered and Educators-in-Charge must consider whether they have the capacity to provide for the safety of their students within the context of the activity. 

Supervision for Higher-Risk (Category 3) Field Studies

For increased risk activities, competent instruction and vigilant supervision is mandatory. Competence may be established by virtue of a certificate from a governing body, such as a Canoeing Instructor’s Certificate from Canoe Sport B.C. In areas where certificates are not issued, competency may be that recognized by the leader’s peers by virtue of experience and demonstrated expertise in the activity.

The Principal and Associate Superintendent-Area must be satisfied that the Educator-in-Charge will provide adequate supervision, competent instruction, and follow recognized

safety procedures for the planned activities, and that supervision meets the level of competence required for the activity. 

Situational factors must be considered when determining the appropriate number of supervisors for a higher-risk activity.  Generally, outdoor pursuits include risks that mandate more supervisors than a regular field studies excursion.  In determining the appropriate number of supervisors required for an outdoor pursuit, assess:

  1. Industry standards for supervision (the ratios set by specific industries/ organizations that govern the outdoor pursuit/activity);
  2. Leadership factors (knowledge, skills, experience of the supervisors);
  3. Student factors (age, grade, knowledge, fitness, skill, experience, behaviour, social needs); and
  4. Trip factors (nature of activity, nature of environment, duration of outing, season, communication capacity, time/distance from emergency response)

Appropriate supervision of a higher-risk outdoor pursuit must take into account the ability to maintain adequate supervision during the execution of a safety plan/emergency response plan.   

In approving a higher-risk outdoor pursuit trip proposal the Principal must be satisfied that the Educator-in-Charge will provide adequate supervision and competent instruction, and follow recognized safety procedures for the planned activities. As such, it is imperative that those Educators who involve themselves in higher-risk outdoor pursuits have the required certification and/or competence.  YouthSafe Outdoors (2005) includes detailed checklists for determining teacher and student readiness and program suitability.  A copy of this checklist is also available in the Vancouver Board of Education’s Field Studies Guidebook (2008). 

Safety Equipment

Safety helmets must be worn by all participants, including supervisors/chaperones involved in cycling, skating, downhill skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, skateboarding, rollerblading, and whitewater activities. 

It is recommended that snowboarders wear wrist guards. 

Safety vest and/or red or yellow pinnies must be worn by all participants cycling on any public road.

For boating activities, students must be wearing Ministry of Transport (M.O.T.) Approved Lifejackets or Type I Approved Personal Flotation Devices) life jacket, or be following the specific rules for competition (e.g. rowing).

Protocols for Ski Trip/Winter Activities

The Educator-in-Charge must ensure suitable attendance records are maintained and shared with supervisors. Additionally, a cell phone or communication device for supervisors should be available for use throughout the trip.

Attendance must be taken prior to the departure and made available to the school office.

Upon arrival, all students must remain together while mountain personnel provide instructions, lessons and designate appropriate ski areas based on skill level observed. The Educator-in-Charge of the ski/snowboard activity shall be responsible for coordinating with on-hill resort personnel/instructors.

Supervisors shall provide designated “on hill” minimum supervisory rations of 1:8 for elementary and 1:10 for secondary students.  Supervisors may include mountain staff when students are involved in a prescribed ski/snowboard program

Supervision shall involve movement around different slopes at set times designated by the Educator-in-Charge.

Each supervisor shall have responsibility for a specific group of students and shall take attendance at designated times throughout the day.

Supervisors will actively monitor and enforce areas of use on the hill re: out-of-bounds areas, and ensure runs are appropriate for the level of the skier.

Attendance must be taken before departing from the ski area.

The Educator-in-Charge must check with mountain personnel for messages or complaints about on hill infractions before leaving the site.


A paramount consideration on selecting, planning, organizing and conducting student field studies is to minimize risk to everyone as all field studies entail some added element of risk. Risk cannot be eliminated; but it can be managed. Careful consideration of the management of risks is an expectation of all staff involved in student field studies.

Student field studies involve different degrees of risk and accordingly call for different levels of care, conduct, communication and consent.

When planning field studies, opportunities within the district should not be overlooked. All other factors being equal, local field studies may eliminate many of the negative factors and risks often associated with travel outside the community.

In order to minimize risk and maximize safety, the following measures apply:

  • Student group characteristics of age, developmental level, area of study, skills and self-discipline are to be considered in selecting appropriate field studies.
  • Parent/guardian information is to be provided on field study opportunities to enable them to decline those which they believe may be inappropriate for their child or exceed their risk tolerance.
  • Parental permission is to include the opportunity for parents to advise of their child’s unique medical, dietary and other special considerations.
  • Safety assessment must be addressed before plans are finalized for all new field studies. This will vary from informal information gathering on routine or repeat field studies to systematic review of more complex field studies.
  • Specialized resources needed are to be identified and incorporated into the program. These resources may include:
    • safety equipment;
    • first aid kit and cell telephone;
    • qualified instructors; and/or
    • guides familiar with the area.
  • Students with special needs must be provided with appropriate safety equipment both for their transportation and their participation in activities.
  • Preparatory instruction of students will include both the development of physical skills and the self-discipline to participate.
  • Parent meetings may be organized both to provide parents/guardians with risk assessment information and to have parental reinforcement of school expectations.
  • Supervision plan is established.
  • Volunteers are selected, orientated and supervised
  • Transportation is planned to be safe and volunteer drivers are selected, orientated and supervised
  • Critical incident response plans/ safety plans are developed before travel in order to respond to emergent situations.
  • Emergency contact/health forms are accessible during the course of the field study
  • Extended field studies involving international air travel, require more extensive planning and special approvals as defined in IICA-R2: Extended Off Continent Field Studies.


A safety assessment must be conducted for all off-site activities.  A safety plan/emergency response plan must be included in the planning process for all field studies.  Supervisors must be aware of any potential student medical problems, e.g. bee sting allergies.  Students with emergency alert situations will be under the direct supervision of a supervisor.

For field studies that are safety sensitive (ie. Category 3) the Educator-in-Charge must organize for:

  • a first aid kit appropriate to the needs of the students/nature of the event
  • a chain of notification in the event of an emergency.  This chain must include the parents, the Principal, and the Associate Superintendent-Area.
  • a means of emergency communication should be available
  • a supervision plan that supports both the injured student and the remaining students participating in the activity
  • students to carry some form of personal identification

For any student injured on a field study, the Incident Report form must be completed as soon as practicable.  A copy of the form and the signed consent form must be forwarded to the Secretary Treasurers Office. 


Funds for student field studies may be raised in the context of Policy IGDFA “Fund-Raising”.

Field studies must be planned with a due regard to economy in order to be affordable.

Financial arrangements for field studies are to clearly communicated to parents including the use of “free” tickets and accruing travel benefits.

Revenues and expenditures in relation to student field studies are to be accounted for pursuant to the methodology described in District’s Guidelines and Procedures for Handling Monies outlined by the Accounting and Finance Department.

Before any personal contributions are accepted for field studies, contributors must be notified, in writing that the district is not responsible for any losses which may arise from cancellation.

Employee-On-Call expenses to replace staff absent on field studies may be factored into the study’s financial planning.

Where parents and guardians are financially contributing to extended field studies, financial arrangements for staff and volunteer travel costs must be transparent, including the use of any “free” tickets and the accruing travel benefits earned from the group’s travel.


Where a group of students is transported by a single vehicle (bus), the Educator-in-Charger is to accompany the group.  Where students are transported in several vehicles, the Educator-in-Charge will generally accompany the largest section of the group. Included in this group would be those students with exceptional needs which would be unfamiliar to volunteer supervisors.

A list of students assigned to each bus or vehicle must be completed and a copy filed at the school. The list should be utilized to account for all students before beginning the return travel of a field study. The Field Study Transportation Record form is designed for this purpose.

Where there is travel advisory issued by authorities, the Educator-in-Charge will consult with the Principal before travelling.

Public Transportation: Public buses and trains (Translink) are adequately insured for the passenger limitations for which they are licensed.

Private Vehicles: Volunteer drivers selection, orientation and supervision is addressed in Policy EEAE–“Student Transportation in Private Vehicles”.

Seat-belts: B.C. seat-belt legislation requires that: "drivers and passengers must properly use the seat-belts provided.” It is also the responsibility of the driver to see that students aged six to sixteen properly use the seat-belts provided. The Board advises that students should not be transported in private vehicles, unless there is a seat-belt provided for each one, and where required a booster seat.  No vehicle used for transporting students on field studies should ever be overloaded.

Booster Seats:  The B.C. Motor Vehicle Act requires the use of approved booster seats in vehicles for all children whose body weight is 18 – 36kg (40-80lbs) or until a height of 4’9” or age 9.

Buses: Non-District school buses may be utilized subject to vendor having a school bus permit and liability insurance of at least $10 million.  

Schools considering buying or leasing a school bus and providing their own driver must be aware of the proper driver's license required for transporting passengers in the vehicle and requirements of the Motor Carrier Act. For insurance purposes, school-owned buses/vehicles must be registered in the name of the district and the insurance must be purchased through the district office to ensure appropriate minimum coverage is met.

Societies associated with schools which provide school bus services are subject to the same requirements as other non-district school bus operators.

Vans: Educators-in-Charge contracting vans must be knowledgeable of applicable licensing and safety requirements.  Any vehicle that has a seating capacity of more than ten persons including the driver is defined by the Motor Vehicle Act as a “bus”. A “bus” used to transport students is required to have a Valid School Bus Permit and MUST carry Third Party Liability Limits of $10,000,000. This will include volunteers’ vehicles, rental vehicles and vehicles owned, leased or contracted by the School Board for student transportation. The driver of the vehicle must carry a class 2 or 4 license depending on the vehicles seating capacity and the driver needs to complete a VSB volunteer drivers form.

DMT Responsibility: AS-LS

Cross References: 
EEAD: Special Use of School Buses; EEAE: Student Transportation in Private Vehicles; EIB: Liability Insurance; JHFA: Supervision of Students; JN: Student Fees, Fines and Financial Hardship; KI/KJ: Public Solicitations/Advertising in the Schools; IGDFA: Fund-raising; Vancouver Board of Education Guidelines for Adults Interacting with Students; Field Studies Resource Book
Adopted Date: 
Sunday January 01, 1978
Revision Date: 
Aug 1990
Dec 1995
Jan 1999
Oct 2009