Delegated Services

Education Visits and the use of online trackers

In the past few years, the parental tracking of children has become more commonplace. In certain circles, parents could even be considered negligent not to, by other parents. The technology is affordable and compact. One 2019 survey of parents and guardians in the UK found that 40% were using some kind of GPS tracking on a daily basis.

This figure is likely higher in 2024. One of the most popular apps, Life360 has over 32 million users globally.

Many wearable trackers and apps also have the facility to remotely activate cameras and microphones. This is very likely an issue schools will increasingly face.


How does this impact on children and young people on Educational Visits?

Electronic trackers, including some phone apps, can be used for tracking the location of participants. Whilst it is appreciated that these might be appropriate in certain circumstances, such as some remote unaccompanied expeditions, they have significant disadvantages including:

  • Unreliability ‒ electronic devices can fail, batteries can go flat, and signal coverage can be lost
  • A false sense of security
    False alarms
  • Accidental or deliberate misuse
  • Safeguarding concerns, e.g., if an unauthorised person is able to track a child.

The OEAP National Guidance “4.3d Parental Consent & Informing Parents” says this on tracking:


Electronic Trackers


Sometimes parents consider providing their child with an electronic tracker, or tracking phone app, with or without the child’s or establishment’s knowledge. Although the motivation may be an understandable anxiety about the whereabouts of their child during a visit, this should normally be discouraged. 


Trackers can introduce:

  • Mistrust between parents and leaders, and tensions between parents who choose to use trackers and those who don’t
  • Safeguarding risks, e.g., if an unauthorised person is able to track a child
  • A reduction in participants’ real or perceived independence, the development of which may be an aim of the visit. 

The use (or not) of trackers by parents may need to be covered in an establishment policy and/or code of conduct to be agreed by parents and participants, in the same way as is done for mobile phones and other technology.

If you are a DS Agreement Customer and you have any queries about this, please contact us using our online form and we will be happy to provide further information and assistance.

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