Scenario: Guiseley Battlefields Trip

posted: Saturday, 18 February 2017

Scenario: Guiseley Battlefields Trip

From:  The Guardian – 2nd September 2015

All but four Guiseley pupils taken ill on school trip leave hospital

Group of 50 pupils and staff from school in Leeds had been taken to hospitals in Belgium, suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea.

All but four of a group of 50 children and staff from a UK school taken to hospital after they became ill on a trip to Belgium have been discharged.

The 46 pupils, aged between 15 and 16, and four staff from Guiseley school in Leeds were reported to be suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea and had been taken to seven different hospitals with assistance from the Red Cross.

They apparently became ill as they approached the Zeebrugge ferry terminal on their way home from a GCSE history trip to the battlefields of France and Belgium.

Paul Clayton, acting co-headteacher of the school, said 76 of the 80 students on the Year 11 trip were heading back to Yorkshire.

Guiseley Battlefields Trip 2015 EV 127666 - de-brief – attended by Phil Jackson  and …

Paul Clayton – Assistant Head – designated school based Emergency Contact

David Lacey – EVC – went to Belgium with colleague to support

Alex Ford – Visit Leader


Ferry Terminal

Denied boarding due to illness

Party held in a section of concourse containment area.


Belgium Authorities

Instigated their own emergency crisis protocol which involved accommodating the party in local youth hostels.

Chose not to identify the virus as ‘norovirus’ initially, thus allowing them to leave the country when fit to do so.

Norovirus – a new strain for Belgium – said that the party had brought it with them BUT this is highly unlikely.

Bogus advice from Port Authority that they could return via the Channel Tunnel as the party could be confined to the coach – pursuing this option wasted valuable time. Should have used this time to secure accommodation for 60+.


Communication in Belgium

15 different hotels obtained by Zurich

3 hospitals used to start

7 hospitals ended up being used

Pupil mobiles – Tried to manage with updates for parents emphasising that they shouldn’t panic parents.

School under the impression that they should have taken mobiles from pupils to prevent mis-information. This is not the advice in the Leeds Schools Crisis Procedures Document March 2014.


Communication with Parents

Some irate parents wanting to know all details immediately

School subscribes to “Keep Kids Safe”

Meeting with parents before return was a good idea – met at 10am, party due back at 11am…………

PC put the whole incident into context for parents with facts, the experience of the communication teams and the complexity of the situation. The disgruntled 10 or so were also diluted amongst the rest who were largely happy at how the event was managed!

Post meeting

  • Positive vibe from parents
  • Praising the school
  • Pupils thought it was a really good trip and were very appreciated  - “going again next year Sir, aren’t we ?”


Staff & children accommodation covered

Do not cover the driver and any associated travel

EHIC for treatment in national hospitals anything else picked up by Zurich

Ambulance costs picked up by them

“Not overly helpful” view of school


Media and other unidentified callers

School received 40+ fishing phone calls

Some purported from other schools wanting to know names of hotels used

PC – asking for names and said would ring back put them off

PC - Jim Hopkinson at Crisis Line informed of press contact


Coach Company – In Good Company – driver David Longbottom 

The school insists on David as their driver before booking.

David became ill too.

Problem with only having one driver per coach if the driver becomes ill for this route - Zeebrugge


Lessons Learned

Contextual lessons to be learned from communicating and managing the dispersal of pupils to 7 hospitals

Need to set up a group email / text system for a large number / consider use of Evolve ‘Gateway’ to keep parents informed

Pre trip planning to address communication with parents specifically in this sort of situation

Need to be aware of regulations for transporting sick children

Need to be aware of Ferry rules – eg.  P & O web site

Need to be aware of Port Authority rules – eg. web site


Talk to P & O immediately they are the experts.


What to do when you lose your only driver – Zeebrugge only necessitates the need for one driver


Need for a proforma for assisting in the management of children in hospitals


Pupil Mobiles – the advice to follow is what the school endeavoured to do – manage their use by enlisting pupil support in only communicating facts and avoid panicking parents.


Travelling with sick children not an option until better.