Appropriate drone for use in an educational setting?

Hi all,
I’m Mel and I’m part of the Visual Arts team at Blackpool Sixth Form College. Way back before Covid times we began introducing drone photography to our creative students as workshops with experienced drone pilots. This proved so popular and benficial that we decided to purchase our own drone in early 2020. Unfortunately Covid lockdowns/strict health and safety measures then hit and we have been unable to deliver any practical drone sessions with our students and our drone has so far remained unused.
I’m now looking to kickstart this again but, since last year, there have been so many developments and changes to the laws that I’m struggling to see how we can deliver flying opportunities effectively and feasibly with our students. (Especially with the particular drone we purchased - the A2 legacy Mavic Air 2, which we were originally recommended for good quality photography). As I understand it, unless we are flying in wide open spaces, we would now need every student who wishes to use it to pass an A2 CofC which is really not viable for us.
Anyone out there have any advice on using a similar drone in an educational setting? It’s looking as though we may have to bite the bullet and sell our current drone in favour of a smaller one which can be flown in the A1 category but I’m hoping there may be other possibilites?

Any advice welcome!
Thanks and best wishes,

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I’m guessing everyone in the group that’s spectating will be under your control, so that side of things won’t be an issue.

Where are you flying Mel? Do you have a cordoned area of a playing field or similar?

Are other non-course students likely to be wandering around?

You are correct that something like the Mini 2 ( under 250g ) would give much more flexibility regarding flying location, albeit with a slightly less capable camera

Hi PingSpike, thanks for your response!

Previously we have flown other drones on our sports field and at the back of college which is quiet and spaced away from the main college building, however, looking at the allowed distances for this drone category, it wouldn’t leave much viable space for us to fly safely on campus as we are quite close to residential areas on each side and a busy main road on the other. The other possible options are running field trips to more appropriate areas, which would be great, but obviously this limits how much use our students will be able to get from it so it’s a matter of deciding what would be best for the students overall.


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Thanks MartG1960, yes that’s another possible option I’ve been looking into. Most of our students are working with still photography rather than video so that’s another factor in deciding which drone would give the best results whilst being appropriate and flexible for us.

Best wishes,

Have you thought of using something like a Mavic 2 (Pro or Zoom) with a dual controller setup? The teacher or person in charge could fly the drone and the student can control the camera to get the shot. The benefit is that only the teacher/person in charge needs Operator/Flyer registration as the student isn’t flying it.
Could even use a Phantom 4 with dual control I do believe (even cheaper than MA2)

Hi Hotrodspike, thanks!
I hadn’t really throught of that, but it certainly could be an option, thank you!
I think the only drawback would be that previous students have really enjoyed the flying experience itself and got loads out of it, as well as their photographic outcomes - we love being able to offer opportunities to students who otherwise may never get chance to fly a drone - it may even introduce them to something they love!
It’s definitely something I’ll have a look into though as that sounds like it would be great from a risk assessment perspective! :slight_smile:


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is absolutely right, the Mini 2 has a less capable camera, but it’s still very good, and they should still be able to learn to get excellent results with it. No-one ever went to Van Gogh and said ‘That’s a lovely sunflower you’ve done there, Vincent, you must have some really top-of-the-range brushes’.

Plus it’s cheaper, so you might be able to run to more than one, and they get the opportunity to fly as well as photograph. :slight_smile:

On a photo course this shouldn’t be an issue

All the gear isn’t worth a jot if you haven’t got an idea. :wink:

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I would think the Mini 2 is definitely the way to go, but just be conscious that although it gets rid of the mandatory separation distances, general air safety law still applies and the Pilot is still legally liable if there is a flyaway accident. The Operator (presumably college staff) could also be liable if they don’t satisfy themselves about the Pilot’s competence, or are directly supervising the Pilot during the flight. So just make sure you have appropriate insurance! It would be worth the supervising staff completing A2 CofC training regardless (it’s free if you don’t need to sit the actual test) just for the general knowledge it provides.

The Article 16 Operational Authorisation for members of model flying clubs can be applied to a recreational area where the flight is for educational purposes, and this gets you down to a 30m separation distance; but I understand the advice from FPVUK is going to be that both the Pilot and the Operator may need to be members to be covered by their insurance.

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Thanks kventner, that’s really useful to know.
We do have specific insurance and have gone through some rigorous risk assessing and putting policies in place to ensure students who wish to fly would be supervised by a trained staff member at all times and would have passed their flyer ID as well as a college-specific drone induction session. Unfortunately we have had to review all this recently due to the law changes and it has become more apparent that a smaller drone would make things quite a bit simpler based on how, when and where we would be wanting to use it.

Many thanks,

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I think it’s a great scheme so hopefully you do get it all up and running again!