IICA: Field studies

I: Instructions


The Board of Education of School District No. 39 - Vancouver (the “Board”) encourages schools to plan field studies for groups of students, to provide supplemental opportunities which enhance learning in curriculum and to expand on athletic, cultural, musical, linguistic, or other educational endeavours.  The Board further believes that in planning for any learning experience including field trips, consideration must be given to student safety, curricular relevance and the appropriateness of the activity to the student’s educational program. In all cases it is necessary for adult supervising staff to have the requisite skills and experience to provide safe and appropriate field trip experiences. 


  • The Board considers the purpose of field studies is to enable students to participate in quality off-site educational studies that:
    • are an integral part of the educational process;
    • are closely connected to curriculum and prescribed learning outcomes; and
    • are relevant, effective, affordable and accessible.
  • The Board views a field study to be an outgrowth of a school program that involves a clearly defined class or group; such as, a Grade 7 division, second language learners, band or athletic team.
  • The Board believes it is of paramount importance that student field studies are selected, planned, organized and conducted in the context of:
    • the safety and security of all participants;
    • risk assessment and management of off-site activities; and
    • protection of students, staff, volunteers and the school district.
  • Eligibility criteria to participate in field studies must be established. No eligible student may be denied access to participate in a day field study held during instructional hours due to financial hardship.  A Principal, or Board designate, may exclude a student from the activity if the student does not meet the eligibility criteria. 
  • The Board will provide free of charge to school-age students resident in the district and enrolled in an educational program at one of its schools field studies where attendance is mandatory and/or assessment will take place. The Board may charge fees for  the expenses such as transportation, accommodation, meals, entrance fees and equipment rentals for optional supplementary field studies.  Efforts to minimize costs to students/parents should be evident in all field trip planning.  Students/parents should also be advised of the Policy File JN: Students Fees, Fines and Financial Hardship with respect to field studies costs.
  • All details of fund raising activities and requirements for the proposed field study must be communicated clearly to students and parents and agreed upon at the outset of the field trip planning process.
  • The Board believes that student field studies should generally involve low risk activities.
  • Field studies should occur as close to the district as is reasonable without compromising the quality of the learning experience. 
  • All details of proposed field studies must be clearly communicated to students and parents.
  • Field studies should not seriously interfere with the education of students who remain at school nor the students who are participating on the field study.  This includes the class(es) that a teacher may miss as a result of sponsoring a field study.
  • School sponsored field studies are considered to be school program activities and as such are subject to both the regulations of the school and to all School District 39 (Vancouver) board policies. When other agencies (e.g., Rotary, Government of Canada) contact schools regarding opportunities for students to participate in activities sponsored by their organizations, parents should be made aware that such activities are not school field studies.


The Board expects all Board employees responsible for planning and authorizing field studies to be knowledgeable of the category definitions for field studies.

Category 1:  Same Day Field Studies

These may last up to a full day. Destinations and activities are determined by learning outcomes; examples of such field studies are visits to museums, law courts, art galleries, nature parks, etc.  

Note:  Local neighbourhood excursions that are based on a specific class activity/learning outcome, such as a grade 3 class going to the local park to collect leaves for an art project, or a grade 11 Physical Education class jogging in the local neighbourhood, are not considered field studies.  However, teachers must always ensure that the school Principal is aware of such neighbourhood learning activities when they are occurring.

Category 2: 

Overnight Field Studies

These may last for one or more days and take place within the province of British Columbia.  Such excursions require an additional level of approval by the Associate Superintendent - Area. 

Outside Lower Mainland Field Studies

Excursions outside the Lower-Mainland require Associate Superintendent approval because of the extensive travel required.  Field studies that extend beyond the Lower-Mainland, even if lasting only one day, are classified as Category 2.

Note: The Lower-Mainland includes two Regional Districts: Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District.  Metro Vancouver is bordered on the west by the Strait of Georgia, to the north by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, on the east by the Fraser Valley Regional District, and to the south by Whatcom County, Washington in the United States. The Fraser Valley Regional District lies east of Metro Vancouver, comprises the cities of Abbotsford and Chilliwack, the districts of Mission, Kent, and Hope, and the village of Harrison Hot Springs

Category 3:  Higher Risk Outdoor Field Studies

These are outdoor education based field studies that may last up to a full day, or may last for two days or more, and entail a level of risk that is higher than activities in which students are normally engaged in at school.  These would typically be:

Outdoor School Programs: where an outdoor setting is important and it becomes the classroom.  Examples include Outdoor Education and Physical Education Activities. 

Outdoor Pursuits: refers to activities related to self-propelled travel on land, water and snow or ice (ie. hiking, kayaking, skiing).  The definition of outdoor pursuit includes higher risk activities, such as skiing, and extended wilderness travel.  Outdoor pursuits are typically of a higher care nature and as such these environments require some more specialized awareness, planning, instruction and leadership.  Outdoor pursuit does not include local ice area activities, such as skating, hockey or curling. 

Category 4:  Out of Province (Canada and Continental Unites States)

These field studies involve travel outside of British Columbia, but within Canada or the continental United States, and last typically for 5-14 days, such as cultural and linguistic exchanges where students travel outside B.C. to be immersed in the language and culture of another area.  Examples are the annual exchanges of the French Immersion Grade 7 student exchange with Quebec.

Category 5:  Extended Off-Continent Field Studies

These comprise travel to foreign countries for the purpose of broadening students’ understanding of other cultures and of helping them to see their relationship in the world as a Canadian.  Extended Off-Continent Field Studies include excursions during Spring Break. 


Field Studies may be deemed to be inappropriate by either the school administrator, or the board designate.  Inappropriate field studies are characterized as those involving:

  • activities that have significant risk for serious injury;
  • dangers that cannot be overlooked regardless of their attention of risk and planning (such as supervision ratios, equipment, instruction and supervisors/ instructors experience and training); 
  • not age or developmentally appropriate for students, individually or as a group;
  • nvolve travel time that is excessive for the age of the children;
  • involve excessive absence from the school for both students and teachers;
  • incur inordinate expense or excessive absence from school;
  • include travel to areas where Foreign Affairs Canada has published a travel advisory; or
  • fail to comply to the policies and procedures of the Board.

EXCURSIONS DURING THE NON-INSTRUCTIONAL YEAR (school closure in June to school opening in September)

Excursions planned for the non-instructional period of the year (typically the months of July and August) will be supported as school-sponsored excursions provided all requisite field studies policies, guidelines, and approval processes have been followed.

Teachers, or other Board employees, who participate in a supervisory role during non-instructional year excursions do so as volunteers, without salary compensation or the expectation of time in lieu.  Liability insurance coverage under the School Protection Plan does extend to any Board employee or volunteer acting in a supervisory capacity during the non-instructional year provided the excursion is a school-sponsored field study and all requisite field studies policies have been followed. 


Parent/Guardian Responsibility:

Parents/Guardians are responsible to determine whether their child may participate in a student field study. In order to provide informed consent, comprehensive student field study information that clearly describes the educational benefits and safety risks must be communicated to parents and guardians.

Student Responsibility:

Students participating in a field study are responsible to comply with the school rules, Student Code of Conduct, Board policies, fulfill the preparatory requirements and cooperate with all supervisors.

Educator-in-Charge Responsibility:

The Educator-in-Charge is responsible to:

  • ensure the field study is appropriately planned, authorized and organized;
  • ensure parents have been provided with comprehensive student information that clearly describes the educational benefits and safety risks of the field study;
  • exercise supervision on a full-time basis;
  • ensure detailed contact and trip information is left with the school Principal; and
  • take whatever precautions are necessary to ensure the proper conduct, appropriate behaviour and safety of students.

Field Study Supervisor Responsibilities:

Supervisors (teachers, volunteers, contracted instructors) are responsible to supervise students 24 hours per day, to serve as role models to students, to act as ambassadors of the school district and to conduct themselves accordingly, and within the expectations of, the Board’s Guidelines for Adults Interacting with Students.  No alcohol or non-prescription drugs are to be consumed while on, or before, supervising students as supervisors must be capable of reasoned judgment in case of an unexpected emergency at all times during the field study.  This expectation includes international locations where the cultural norms may vary.


The Board assigns each Principal primary responsibility and authority to conduct student field studies, and ensure planned field studies prescribe to board policies.

The Board assigns the Superintendent or designate responsibility and authority to establish district practices and standards for the conduct of students during field studies; and provide approval for specified trip categories.

DMT Responsibility: AS-LS

Cross References: 
EEAD: Special Use of School Buses; EEAE: Student Transportation in Private Vehicles; EIB: Liability Insurance; GCEA-R: Arrangements for Professional Staff Substitutes; JHFA: Supervision of Students; JN: Student Fees, Fines and Financial Hardship; KI/KJ: Public Solicitations/Advertising in the Schools Field Studies Resource Book; Vancouver Board of Education Guidelines for Adults Interacting with Students.
Adopted Date: 
Thursday November 01, 1973
Revision Date: 
Jan 1973
Aug 1990
Dec 1995
Jan 1999
Oct 2009