Wales politics

Bid for new law for school and college trips in Wales

Glyn Summers Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Glyn Summers, 17, died on a college trip to Barcelona

A family left bereaved after their son died on a college trip to Spain in 2011 is supporting a bid by an AM to tighten rules on educational trips.

Glyn Summers died at the age of 17 on a college trip to Barcelona.

Plaid Cymru's Steffan Lewis wants to introduce a minimum ratio of supervisory staff to pupils on educational trips.

He will take part in a ballot on Wednesday, where one AM will be picked to propose a private member's bill.

If Mr Lewis' bid was picked and if the law was passed, the proposed Safety on Educational Trips bill would introduce a mechanism for independent review following injury or death during a trip.

The bill would also introduce:

  • a code of conduct for supervisory staff during trips, including a prohibition on alcohol
  • guidelines for the information that must be provided to parents and guardians before a trip
Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Glyn Summers' parents want an independent investigation into his death

Glyn, from Hengoed, Caerphilly county, was a student of the former Ystrad Mynach College when he went on the trip in October 2011.

But on the day he flew out, he fell from a hotel balcony and died a week later from his injuries.

His mother Sarah Summers said: "If they had these laws before Glyn's accident it would have made things a lot easier for us.

"It could have made a difference to the extent that Glyn would be still alive."

An internal investigation was carried out by the former college but the report has not been revealed publicly and his parents have called for an independent investigation.

"It was a language and cultural trip that was part of his coursework," said his father, Lee Summers.

"If he didn't go it would have affected his end of year pass-mark. I encouraged him to go."

The family learned from Spanish police that Glyn had consumed alcohol but it was not until a year after his death, when the college wrote to the parents in October 2012, that it emerged the 17-year old had been permitted by staff to go to a nightclub with others.

Image caption Lee and Sarah Summers have supported Steffan Lewis' bid for a new law on educational trips

"We were shut out. We were given no information whatsoever," said Mr Summers.

"There's no respite from it. You go to bed at night thinking about it and you get up in the morning thinking about it. It eats away at you."

"We're still fighting for an independent investigation," he added.

Mrs Summers said: "We want to make sure that this doesn't happen to another family because it's devastating.

"You've lost your child, you're grieving for a start. You don't know anything about the laws.

"There is nothing out there to help parents go through this minefield."

Image caption Steffan Lewis said Glyn Summers' death was an "example of what can go wrong"

Several AMs are expected to take part in the ballot on Wednesday, where one will be picked at random to propose a member's bill for a new law in the assembly.

Mr Lewis, Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales East, said: "I was inspired to propose this bill by conversations with the parents of Glyn Summers, whose tragic death on a trip in Barcelona is an example of what can go wrong when the guidelines are not properly followed.

"The law regulating school trips is in need of strengthening and updating. Children and young people benefit hugely from educational trips, and I want to ensure that they can learn and enjoy themselves in safety."

Ystrad Mynach College merged with others in South Wales in 2013 to become Coleg y Cymoedd.

A spokesman for the college said that, for legal reasons, it was unable to comment.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "The ballot is the first step in the process for a members bill.

"If this proposal is selected on Wednesday there will be an opportunity for both the assembly and Welsh Government to give it due consideration.

More on this story