All students must be included on field trips.

Yes, even disabled students. Yes, even students with complex support needs, challenging behaviour, physical disabilities.

Schools must provide accommodations as outlined in their IEP, and according to their support needs.

If the field trip will be unsafe for a student because their needs cannot be accommodated in the field trip setting, the field trip should not be happening.

No, parents and guardians do not have to attend in order for their child to attend. Like any other educational opportunity, supports must be provided so that these students can equitably access it.

Excluding a child from a field trip without any attempt to accommodate their disability support needs is likely discriminatory.

Exclusion from field trips in BC is often cited on reports to our Exclusion Tracker

And we tend to see it in the news around this time of year.

Closeup of a dinosaur skeleton

As a parent, you may feel a particular field trip is not the right fit for your child. You certainly have the right to not grant permission. A conversation with the teacher is always a good idea if you’re unsure.

You may also prefer to attend the field trip with your child, and this is also something you can discuss with the teacher. Just be sure you consider that allowing our kids to have independent, successful experiences is also important and weigh that against what may be very valid reasons for wanting to be there.

What to do if your child is being excluded from a field trip:

See our Advocacy and Conflict Resolution document for details on this process:

  1. If you’re informed before the field trip, you can try to change this decision. Has the teacher informed you why they’re excluding your child? If there’s enough time, start with emailing them to clarify their reasoning for the exclusion. You can also seek advocacy support from organizations like Inclusion BC, Family Support Institute, your PAC or District PAC.
  2. If the teacher has made the decision to exclude and is unwilling to change that decision, reply by email and copy the principal asking for your child to be included with the necessary supports and accommodations. You may want to use some of the language suggestions in number 5.
  3. If the principal upholds the teacher’s decision, copy in the district contact for inclusive education and make the same request. You can continue to escalate in this way up to the superintendent. And you can file a formal appeal to the school board under Section 11 of the School Act.
  4. If there’s not much time until the trip, a call to the principal and then the district if necessary, followed up with an email including the teacher, principal and district person may be required.
  5. Some potential wording:
    “Dear (name), I have been informed that my child, NAME, is not welcome on the field trip because (REASON GIVEN).
    I believe this exclusion may be discriminatory. Please contact me by (DATE) to resolve this, as they are looking forward to the learning opportunity with their classmates and should not be excluded based upon disability.”
  6. If the district upholds the decision to exclude, or, suggests that your child can go only if you go as a 1:1 support person, it can help to ask them: is my child being treated differently than their peers? Do all disabled students have to have a parent attend? (If all children with disabilities need to have a parent attend, then the entire group is being treated differently which is another issue of potential discrimination).
  7. A child’s IEP must be followed while on the field trip. If the child has a 1:1 EA, an AAC device, or any other supports and accommodations in the classroom, the same should be available on the field trip.
  8. If the exclusion has already happened, ask for the exclusion and the reasoning for the exclusion in writing. If you are told verbally, send an email summarizing your understanding of the situation, to document the exclusion. You can also consider different options such as filing a discrimination complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

Schools can ensure that field trips are planned and assessed well in advance to ensure they can be inclusive of all students in the class.

School districts and independent school authorities can ensure they have policies and procedures at the district level around field trips and the rights of disabled students, and can consider including this as part of their Accessibility Plans.

Students have many learning opportunities at school, but a relevant and well planned field trip has a lot of benefits. The ability to actively and tangibly engage creates a stronger connection to and understanding of curticulum.

Studies show that across gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, youth who take educational trips have better grades and higher graduation rates. School field trips are cited by adults as having a positive, lasting impact on their education and career because the trips made them more engaged, intellectually curious, and interested in the world. Let’s make sure ALL students have access to these educational opportunities.

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