Israel 5Blog

Safety, risk and RE adventures

Managing safety in 'unusual' RE trip destinations like Israel and Iran

It’s a fact that some of the places most interesting for religious studies groups are also some of the most controversial, volatile and sometimes war-torn. It’s also a fact that there’s no better way to learn about a religion than to experience and witness it first hand, embedded in its native culture. So, at the STC, how do we balance the risks of those conflicting facts?

Firstly, in the immortal words of Douglas Adams, we don’t panic. Countries like Israel and Iran get a lot of bad press – as we know, the media love to accentuate the negative. It’s important for us to dig into the detail, reach conclusions armed with evidence and embrace the positives of challenge. At the STC, we take an informed and level-headed approach to risk management. We don’t allow ourselves to be influenced by popular anxiety: that could mean missing out on experiences for no reason other than paralysing caution. Admittedly, risk is inherent everywhere in life, but we don’t use that as an excuse for being gung-ho either. Yes, we go to places that other school travel companies wouldn’t touch with a barge pole, but we do so confidently, not irresponsibly. Not everything you hear about those places is true.  And what you do hear is very unlikely to be the whole picture either. There’s often a substantial gap between ‘perceived’ risk and ‘actual’ risk.  

We know that safety is a critical consideration for teachers, students and parents, so we take it very seriously at all stages – from planning, through transit to adventure, experience and return. We do our research, very thoroughly. We find out our facts and make plans (and back-up plans) to anticipate, mitigate and keep risk at acceptable levels. We work with well-trusted local leaders who know their countries like the back of their hands – far better than an incoming leader could. We stay in constant communication when we’re away and we have well-rehearsed (but never used) crisis procedures. 

It’s important to us that groups that travel with us are reassured by the safety assurances we have in place – and it’s important that they trust we have it all covered – but we don’t want them to be weighed down by fear of risk. So we do the legwork, leaving you the headspace to enjoy your adventure, worry free.

Before EVERY trip:

  • we consider the experience and abilities of the students and teachers travelling with us, ensuring everyone is fit and healthy enough for their chosen trip.
  • we brief everyone before departure on topics such as personal safety, health and hygiene, money management and trip-specific hazards.
  • we have a formalised Safety Management System that we share openly.
  • risks are comprehensively assessed and formalised prior to departure (and leaders continually assess risks during each trip).
  • we ensure groups can communicate at any time on their adventure, however remote their location, by satellite, radio or phone.
  • we have 24-hour emergency back-up and critical incident support to deal quickly and efficiently with problems.
  • we always adhere to travel advice issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and we’re proudly British Standard 8848:2014 compliant – and we’re externally assessed as such too! 

Click here for full details of our safety policie, or get in touch if you woul dlike further information, sample risk and threat assessments or a copy of our Safety Management System.