IT is too early to know the exact circumstances in which 14-year-old Joseph Lister died during a school trip to the Yorkshire Dales.

But the tragedy has again opened up the debate about school trips, the potential for accidents, and the pressure placed on teachers.

Being in charge of children is a massive responsibility and we understand why the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers advises its members not to take part in such activities.

But it would be very sad indeed if the culture of blame and compensation led to school trips becoming a thing of the past. Education must be multi-layered and adventurous and that means accepting that accidents and tragedies will very, very occasionally happen.

Taking children skiing, mountaineering, abseiling, or caving will never be free from risk and every effort must be taken to ensure that those risks are minimised.

But if children are wrapped in cotton wool, they will never experience the excitement and joy of the great outdoors. It is part of growing up and we hope it always will be.

It is a time, of course, to think of the family and friends of Joseph Lister who are having to come to terms with a terrible tragedy.

But it is also time to spare a thought for teachers who take on the unenviable responsibility for school trips, the overwhelming majority of which never make the headlines because they pass without incident other than being packed with happy memories