Adventure camp back after parent pressure

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 September, 2010, 12:00am

An English Schools Foundation primary school has bowed to parent pressure and reinstated an Outward Bound adventure camp for 120 pupils after trying to replace it with a four-day trip to Shenzhen.

Parents of nine and 10-year-olds at Clearwater Bay School bombarded principal David Fitzgerald with e-mails after learning of the plan to send their children to the border city.

As a result of objections from the majority of parents who responded, the Shenzhen trip was scrapped and on Friday, Mr Fitzgerald wrote to parents saying the camp at Sai Kung was being reinstated.

Parents said they were concerned about their children's safety as well as pollution and hygiene in Shenzhen, and said youngsters were upset at missing out on the Outward Bond activities Year Six pupils enjoyed in previous years.

One of the reasons given to parents by Mr Fitzgerald earlier for switching the annual Year Six trip from Outward Bound to Shenzhen was that hiking and camping, sometimes in harsh weather, was more appropriate for secondary school pupils than nine and 10 year-olds.

In his letter, the principal said changes had been made to the Outward Bound programme, indicating that the November 15-19 camp would be less tough than in previous years in response to complaints from some parents.

'As we were unable to proceed with the trip to China we are reverting to Outward Bound with some slight changes to the programme,' he wrote.

'I met with the director and workplace health and safety officer of Outward Bound to discuss a possible programme and to discuss issues such as age appropriateness of activities and duty of care provided by ourselves and the Outward Bound staff. I am confident that the slight changes we have made to the programme in terms of providing additional staff from the school and increasing the role of school staff in the evenings and on the overnight camp will ensure a challenging, age-appropriate and safe camp for all students.

Parents complained they were not consulted over the switch from Outward Bound to a four-day stay in Shenzhen.

The Shenzhen trip was to cost parents about HK$3,500 per child - around the same price as the Outward Bound camp - and was to include visits to local restaurants, a museum and art gallery, kite flying and tai chi.

One Year Six pupil's father upset at the Shenzhen plan is understood to have made a booking for 120 children at Outward Bound on the same dates in the hope that the school would change its mind.