Integrity, Service & Innovation - ‘’Group travel reimagined’’
We are focussed upon safe, high quality educational snowsport visits and we place the safety and wellbeing of students and teachers at the centre of our planning. We strive to surpass the minimum requirements and those used by traditional ski tour operators as described in this Safety Management System summary. We understand that naturally, schools will want to fully understand our safety policies and procedures before booking and we will work with you to help ensure that all the information necessary to make this important decision is made available.
Our safety management system consists of the four main components shown in the diagram which is summarised below. Our full safety management system document will be provided after booking and prior to departure.
Educational visit approval
Party leaders will need to gain formal approval for such visits before committing further and our team will provide the information necessary, including having conversations with external Educational Visits Advisers if helpful. We have elected to benchmark our safety and quality management systems against British Standard 8848 (see below for more detail) as we believe it better suits our tours and would be delighted to explain further with you, colleagues or external advisers.
Your True North Travel Leader / Rep is much more than a typical ski rep. They are your dedicated and exclusive support and resource throughout your tour. Your experienced Rep/Leader will travel with you from the UK (coach travel) or meet you at the airport (air travel) and is there to provide any logistical support and ensure you have a safe, smooth, successful and enjoyable trip.
All our Reps/Leaders are DBS checked, employed directly by True North Travel and have extensive experience of school ski travel provision. All Reps/Leaders undergo thorough training with True North Travel prior to deployment and understand all our safety policies and procedures. Party Leaders, and where possible accompanying adults, will be introduced to their Rep/Leader prior to the tour.
All our ski instructors are provided by high quality nationally recognised ski schools and are qualified in accordance with local laws, regulations and recognised safety standards. All instructors are proficient English speakers and will ensure participants are taught how to be safe whilst on the slopes. They are the expert and lead on safety decisions during the snowsport activities.
True North Travel works on a minimum ratio of 1:10 (one instructor to ten participants) which is lower than the permitted industry standard of up to 1:15 and is something we believe is important in helping ensure group safety.
True North Travel employees will be positioned in key destination hubs to provide additional support where necessary and will be contactable 24/7.
Schools will of course choose the teachers they know are right to provide pastoral care and lead each tour. Free places will be included in the package for a ratio of one free teacher place per ten students (air) and per eight students (coach). We will help teachers prior to departure and provide information that will help with in-school meetings and any other preparation. Although teachers do not need to be accomplished skiers, it helps if they have experience of leading overseas residential visits and therefore have experience of conducting dynamic risk assessments on educational visits.
Our tours cater for varied ski ability groups and although no training is required prior to departure, it helps students get the most out of the tour if they have been briefed on the basics and perhaps even visited a dry ski slope in advance.
All tour itineraries are tailored by experienced True North Travel staff with extensive experience of school ski travel and direct experience of the resort and local provisions. Resorts and activities are chosen to fit the group’s aims, objectives and skiing ability, and can be adapted to suit the school’s needs.
All accommodation is chosen to meet the needs of the group and all hotels have prior experience of hosting school ski groups are fully licensed with and meet safety standards set by the government and local councils. All bedrooms are individually lockable and room plans are arranged with the safety and security of the group in mind. Room plans will be issued to the party leader in advance.
True North Travel audits all accommodation for health and safety standards including: fire safety and evacuation procedures; security; safeguarding; key hazards; first aid; and food hygiene.
All tours include full board and/or half board provision and food safety standards are included within our health and safety audits of all properties. We will make all reasonable effort to ensure any allergies and dietary requirements can be catered for and information will be collected prior to departure regarding dietary, other medical or access adjustments necessary to help ensure a safe tour.
All our policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and we welcome external audit and scrutiny to help us to continually improve our practice. That is why we engage Pharos Response as experts to provide independent risk management advice and audit on an annual basis and have benchmarked our systems upon a British Standard.
All of our tours conform to the British Standard 8848:2014 Specification for the provision of visits, fieldwork, expeditions and adventurous activities outside the United Kingdom by self assessment at point of delivery. This standard provides a comprehensive framework of good practice not only to keep all participants safe, but also informed. True North Travel is the Venture Provider, the Rep/Leader will be the Venture Leader and school staff will be Leaders within the Leadership Team. Further information regarding the standard can be found here...
Our safeguarding policy adheres to good practice standards and includes clear principles of safer recruitment of staff, responsibilities and practice. All our employees, including your Rep/Leader undergo thorough screening including an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Schools will have access to our trained Designated Safeguarding Lead throughout. A copy of our full policy is available to schools upon request.
Detailed risk assessments are undertaken and compiled by True North Travel for each tour and provided to the school. Risk assessments will be specific for your chosen country, resort and itinerary. Further risk assessments are provided for specific adventurous or higher risk additional activities or excursions (as applicable) that form part of the chosen package/itinerary. Schools will be provided copies of these risk assessments prior to departure in order to inform the school leader’s own risk assessment.
Activities outside of the agreed package/itinerary may be undertaken at the school’s own discretion and schools must ensure that all activities are covered by their insurance.
All True North Travel tours will adhere to up to date Department for Education and other Government and travel sector Covid-19 guidance. All tours will be risk assessed against the live situation in both the UK and Europe, with all activity subject to robust and thorough infection control protocols to reduce the risk of infection. Our COVID-19 risk assessment and associated measures will be shared and discussed with schools in advance and will include up-to-date information on Covid-19 regulations in the country of destination prior to departure.
All accommodation and transportation will be assessed as Covid-secure and any specific measures will be discussed and shared with schools in advance of departure. Critical incident plans will be prepared to manage any illness or positive test on tour, including medical provision, associated quarantine procedures, and any other related travel delays.
Of course, it is essential that no one travels who is experiencing symptoms, who lives with someone with symptoms, or who has been advised to isolate by the public health authorities.
True North Travel will book air and sea (ferry) transfers with reputable and well-known providers only.
UK coach companies will be reputable organisations who will be checked and audited by True North Travel to ensure the relevant coach operator safety standards are met.
All providers will comply with appropriate national and local laws, regulations and relevant codes of practice. All vehicles will be equipped and fit for winter travel and all drivers will be suitably experienced and licensed with prior experience of working with school groups, European travel and driving on mountain roads in winter conditions.
Drivers will always adhere to local laws, speed limits and will not exceed driver hours regulations. All coaches will be fitted with seatbelts, will be modern, clean, well maintained and in good roadworthy condition.
All in-country coach providers providing local transfers will be checked by True North Travel and will comply with local laws and regulations, and hold appropriate insurances. All drivers will hold the correct licenses, be suitably experienced and skilled for the roads and routes to be travelled in winter conditions, and adhere to safe practices in accordance with local regulations. All coaches will be fitted with seatbelts, will be modern, clean, well maintained and in good roadworthy condition.
Resort road transport
Local resort transport which has not been directly booked by True North Travel, such as resort shuttle buses, may be used for short journeys within the resort. These public services meet local laws and regulations but do not always provide the same provisions as longer distance coach travel, such as seatbelts.
True North Travel works solely with local, nationally recognised ski schools that are compliant with all local laws and national governing body standards. All ski schools are required to hold appropriate insurance and apply appropriate safety standards.
True North Travel checks all ski schools for compliance with appropriate local standards.
Ski instruction will be restricted to within resort boundaries and ski runs chosen will be appropriate for the ability and experience of the group.
True North Travel uses reputable and respected local ski hire suppliers for all its ski equipment provisions.
All participants will have their equipment fitted by an experienced, competent and trained individual.
All ski equipment hire providers have been audited by True North Travel or a dedicated agent and checked for standards of equipment provision and maintenance, staff training and competence, and will hold appropriate insurances.
All equipment provided will be fit for purpose and in good working condition.
Ski helmets are provided as standard, will be correctly fitted and meet accepted UK or European safety standards.
True North Travel policy is for all students and teachers to wear helmets whilst skiing/snowboarding. Helmets meeting local safety standards will be provided for all and teachers will monitor compliance with this policy, alongside ski instructors.
All ski lifts are licensed, managed and insured in accordance with local regulations and we use those where dedicated attendants are present to monitor safe boarding and dismounting. Prior to entering the lift system, the ski school will provide advice as to how to use the particular lift type and True North Travel provides a short video on ski lifts, types and hints of use, included in the information provided to schools prior to travel.
True North Travel holds public liability insurance with cover up to £5m
Comprehensive travel insurance is also available to schools which provides full emergency response and evacuation, emergency medical care and repatriation cover. Schools may choose to opt-out of this provision and provide their own travel insurance policy which must provide emergency, evacuation, medical and repatriation cover, as well as snowsports cover.
A copy insurance certificate will be provided prior to departure.
In the event of an incident True North Travel will provide full support and assistance to help safeguard the safety and wellbeing of all students and staff. Ski school instructors are first aid trained and have access to medical kits and further support. Schools are advised to ensure at least one member of accompanying staff is also first aid trained and to provide a suitable first aid kit for the group, in order to assist students on the outward and return journeys or during downtime. 
All resorts have dedicated and highly skilled ski rescue services to provide initial emergency response and support a casualty or injured party to hospital or most appropriate local medical assistance. All ski instructors carry mobile phones or other communications devices (two-way radios) as standard and additional contact stations are accessible at each ski lift.
Your school and participants have access to our dedicated 24/7 incident support line which is managed by our experienced managers who will provide initial advice, support, and assistance.
True North Travel is further supported by Pharos Response, a professional and specialist risk and incident management organisation who will provide specialist expertise in the event of a serious incident.
True North Travel has a dedicated incident reporting process that relies upon early notification to help ensure the appropriate swift action. All incidents/near misses are taken extremely seriously and regular review is undertaken to understand possible causes and ensure that appropriate corrective action and associated improvements are implemented. All incidents/near misses will be reported to our head office by your Rep/Leader. Naturally we hope your tour passes without any issues but if you do have any concerns, please notify your Rep/Leader initially so that we can provide early resolution.
Title to be agreed by Simon/Chris
link to the consumer brochure
Simon/Chris - I've removed reps as first aiders here and reworded this sentence to include schools providing a FA kit.
We would suggest instead of advising reps not to administer help, that schools (and ski instructors) have primary responsibility for first aid provision. Just to avoid any issue where a rep or TNT may be accused of making a situation worse through inaction.