Learning outside the classroom – requirements and recommendations for employers

Learning outside the classroom – requirements and recommendations for employers

: Educational visits : Leadership roles : Management and supervision : Offsite visits : Outdoor learning : Overseas visits : Risk management NewsBlog

Essential guidance for those in senior positions

3.1a Requirements and Recommendations for Employers is a National Guidance document that will specifically benefit people in senior or controlling positions in organisations that employ staff who provide outdoor learning and off-site visits.

This article is a follow up from the recently released An employer’s introduction to learning outside the classroom guidance.

The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) produces National Guidance, which provides comprehensive support for the management of high-quality outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities.

Types of relevant role:

  • Chief Executive
  • Chair
  • Company Secretary
  • Director
  • Councillor
  • Trustee
  • Governor
  • Proprietor
  • Owner

Types of relevant organisation:

  • Local authorities
  • Academies and multi-academy trusts
  • Voluntary-aided and foundation schools
  • Independent schools
  • Charities
  • Companies.

This particular document is an important signpost to a significant number of other elements of OEAP NG best practice and advice.
Guidance and training for example, are deemed as being highly important.

“Employers must ensure that their employees are provided with appropriate guidance. This can be done by formally adopting OEAP National Guidance as part of a policy for outdoor learning and off-site visits which also includes details of any specific local requirements.
“Training must be provided to support the guidance, and to ensure that it is understood.”

Categories covered in this guidance include

  • Leadership and Management
  • Legal Requirements
  • Provision of Guidance, Training and Access to Advice
  • Role-Specific Requirements and Recommendations
  • Outdoor Education Adviser
  • Notification and Approval
  • Other Issues
    • Emergency Planning and Critical Incident Support
    • Monitoring
    • Approval of Leaders
  • Further Guidance

In all cases, if an establishment is unclear about whether their employer requires notification or approval for a particular visit, they should consult their Outdoor Education Adviser.

The download also contains direct links a variety of other supporting OEAP National Guidance documents.


Download OEAP National Guidance document 3.1a Requirements and Recommendations for Employers »

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

Outdoor education guidance – the importance of the basics

Outdoor education guidance – the importance of the basics

: Adventure activities : Leadership roles : Management and supervision : Offsite visits : Outdoor learning : Policies : Residential visits : Risk management NewsBlog

How to make safety and success more likely

Good practice, in terms of what happens on any particular visit can be quite subjective, because it depends so much on the aims and the context.

“Good practice does not guarantee safety or success, but it does make them more likely.”

So begins the OEAP NG guidance document 4.3a Good practice basics, which is the perfect introduction to many of the most important principles of safe and meaningful learning outside the classroom. It’s particularly relevant for educational visit co-ordinators, heads and managers, visit leaders and assistant leaders and outdoor education advisers.

The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) produces National Guidance, which provides comprehensive support for the management of high-quality outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities.

“Good practice is fundamentally about getting the right leaders doing the right activities with the right participants in the right places at the right times” says the document, which covers the following category example of good practice:-

  • Enabling Policies and Systems
  • Clear Aims
  • Competent and Effective Leadership
  • Thorough Planning
  • Proportionate Risk Management
  • Effective Supervision
  • Sound Selection and Use of Providers
  • Preparation for Emergencies
  • Monitoring
  • Review and Evaluation

“Risk management is not about eliminating risk altogether – it is about reducing it as low as reasonably practicable and deciding if this is acceptable so as to gain the benefits.”

Further useful reading

Recommended good practice basics next steps include:-

There are also links to many other supporting OEAP National Guidance documents.

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

Essential reading for anyone involved in outdoor education

Essential reading for anyone involved in outdoor education

: Adventure activities : Management and supervision : Offsite visits : Outdoor learning : Overseas visits : Parents and carers : Policies : Residential visits NewsBlog

Guidance that is particularly useful for those about to embark on learning outside the classroom activities for the first time

There is a very diverse range of people who make valuable and essential contributions to outdoor education activities. From parents and careers, to employers and advisers, local education officers and school governors, to heads and managers.

One thing they all have in common is that they had to start somewhere. And OEAP National Guidance provides the perfect no-nonsense introduction to these sometimes adventurous activities.

The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) produces National Guidance, which provides comprehensive support for the management of high-quality outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities.

Your introduction to outdoor education guidance

There are three specific documents that provide that all-important introduction. They are:-

All the turns of phrase and terminology that you’re likely to encounter.

This document explains the OEAP National Guidance starting points for the planning and management of outdoor learning, off-site visits and learning outside the classroom.

National Guidance has been written to be consistent with the law and with current good practice. If there is any conflict or inconsistency, the following priorities should be followed, in this order:

  1. Obey the law.
  2. Fulfil the requirements of your employer.
  3. Work within good practice expectations as set out by professional organisations and national governing bodies.
  4. Follow National Guidance.

Guidance for your future role – your onward journey

When you are further into your outdoor education journey, more comprehensive and role-specific help is available in the following categories:

There are also links to many other supporting OEAP National Guidance documents.

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

Adventure activities – reducing the risk, not the value

Adventure activities – reducing the risk, not the value

: Adventure activities : Leadership roles : Management and supervision : Offsite visits : Outdoor learning : Overseas visits : Risk management Essential NewsBlog

A higher level of risk management is required…

For the purposes of OEAP National Guidance, an adventure activity is defined as an activity which is exciting and challenging and which involves significant inherent risk of harm, without which the activity would lose much of its value, or which takes place in a remote or hazardous location.

The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) produces National Guidance, which provides comprehensive support for the management of high-quality outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities.

“Adventure activities require a higher level of risk management, and may require specific competence, in order to reduce the risks to an acceptable level.”

So says the OEAP National guidance document 7.1a Adventure activities.

Adventure activities can be hugely beneficial for those fortunate enough to benefit from them. Participating in adventure activities can be one of the highlights of a young person’s learning experiences.

While any off-site activity will probably be exciting, adding an extra dimension of personal challenge through participation in adventure activities can make the experience particularly memorable, the learning that takes place often being life-long.

“Students are active participants, not passive consumers, and a wide range of learning styles can flourish.”

The guidance document covers:-

  • A definition of adventure activities
  • The rationale of adventure activities
  • Leading adventure activities
  • Using an external provider
  • Licensing.

Specific competence requirements

Adventure activities require a higher level of risk management, and may require specific competence, in order to reduce the risks to an acceptable level.

To ensure this, employers and establishments should consider whether their policies should include special requirements for adventure activities, such as an approval process for leaders and activities.

Additional guidance regarding this can be found within 4.3c Risk management – an overview.

“Risk management is therefore not about eliminating risk – it is about reducing it as low as reasonably practicable and deciding if this is acceptable in order to gain the potential benefits. This is recognised by both HSE and the Department for Education (DfE).”

The download also contains direct links a variety of other supporting OEAP National Guidance documents.


Download OEAP National Guidance document 7.1a adventure activities »

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

Learning outside the classroom guidance for Educational Visits Coordinators

Learning outside the classroom guidance for Educational Visits Coordinators

: Educational visits : Leadership roles : Management and supervision : Offsite visits : Outdoor learning : Overseas visits NewsBlog

Essential guidance to EVCs for their role and responsibilities

An Educational Visits Coordinator (EVC) is defined in OEAP National Guidance document 1a Glossary and Definitions as a “member of establishment staff appointed to co-ordinate all visits and with the status to effect change and be the focus of good practice”.

National Guidance (NG) is produced by the Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP), which provides comprehensive support for the management of high-quality outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities.

Categories of Guidance for Educational Visits Coordinators

Relevant Guidance for EVCs is comprehensive and occurs in the following five categories of NG:

  • Category 1 – Basic essentials
  • Category 2 – Making the case
  • Category 3 – Legal framework and employer systems
  • Category 4 – Good practice
  • Category 5 – Policies, planning and evaluation.

The document 3.1b Establishment roles and their inter-dependence states that

“It is good practice for all establishments to have an Educational Visits Coordinator (EVC), and the employer’s policy may make this a requirement. In smaller establishments, the role of EVC is sometimes held by the head/manager. Where an EVC is not nominated, by default the responsibilities of the role rest with the head/manager.”

The EVC is the establishment’s focal point for planning and monitoring visits and outdoor learning. They should work closely with the head/manager and with Visit Leaders.

The responsibilities of EVCs

Document 3.4j Educational Visits Coordinator (EVC) is particularly helpful as a starting point, as it provides guidance on their specific responsibilities.

“The EVC should be specifically competent. The level of competence required can be judged in relation to the size of the establishment as well as the extent and nature of the visits planned. Evidence of competence may be through qualification, but more usually will be through the experience of practical leadership over many years. Such a person should be an experienced Visit Leader with sufficient status within the establishment to guide the working practice of colleagues leading Visits.
“This cannot be a purely administrative role, although certain functions may be delegated to an administrator.”

Key functions of the EVC include:-

  • Being a champion for all aspects of visits and outdoor learning
  • Challenging colleagues across all curriculum areas to use visits and outdoor learning effectively
  • Supporting/overseeing planning so that well considered and prepared arrangements can lead to well-managed, engaging, relevant, enjoyable and memorable visits/outdoor learning
  • Mentoring leaders and aspirant leaders
  • Ensuring that planning complies with your employer’s requirements and that the arrangements are ready for approval within agreed timescales
  • Supporting your head/manager and governors/trustees in approval decisions
  • Ensuring that all activity is reviewed, that good practice is shared
  • Keeping their senior leadership team and governors/trustees informed about the visits and outdoor learning taking place – and their contribution to establishment effectiveness.

There are also links to many other supporting OEAP National Guidance documents.

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

An employer’s introduction to learning outside the classroom guidance

An employer’s introduction to learning outside the classroom guidance

: Educational visits : Leadership roles : Legal considerations : Management and supervision : Offsite visits : Outdoor learning : Overseas visits : Residential visits : Risk management Essential NewsBlog

Help for you, your role and responsibilities

An introduction for employers whose staff lead outdoor learning, off-site visits or learning outside the classroom activities.

The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) produces National Guidance, which provides comprehensive support for the management of high-quality outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities.

One useful and efficient way for an employer to access relevant information is provided by the ability to search documents by role: National Guidance for employers is just one such category that can be found within OEAP National Guidance (NG).

The documents outlined below give essential guidance to you for your role and responsibilities – and will help you to implement appropriate systems.

Categories of Guidance for employers

Relevant Guidance for employers occurs in the following three categories of NG:

  • Category 1 – Basic essentials
  • Category 3 – Legal framework and employer systems
  • Category 4 – Good practice.

The document 3.1a Requirements and Recommendations for Employers is particularly helpful for people in senior or controlling positions in organisations that employ staff who provide outdoor learning and off-site visits. Roles that this is pertinent to include:-

  • Chief Executive
  • Chair
  • Company Secretary
  • Director
  • Councillor
  • Trustee
  • Governor
  • Proprietor
  • Owner.

“Employers are legally responsible for the activities that take place in their establishments. This includes a common law duty of care towards their employees and participants in the activities, and duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (1974) (HSWA) and other legislation.”

In addition to their responsibilities as an employer, local authorities also have a duty under the Children Act (2004) to ensure that there are clear and effective arrangements to protect from harm all children and young people in their area.

This means that, even though they are not responsible under the HSWA for health and safety in establishments for which they are not the employer (such as independent schools and academies), they do have an overarching responsibility to ensure that all establishments have suitable and sufficient arrangements in place for managing health and safety and child protection, including during outdoor learning and off-site visits.

The OEAP NG guidance document 3.2a Underpinning Legal Framework and Duty of Care will also prove to be most helpful.

There are also links to many other supporting OEAP National Guidance documents.

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

Guidance: outdoor education group safety at the water’s edge

Guidance: outdoor education group safety at the water’s edge

: Educational visits : Management and supervision : Offsite visits : Outdoor learning : Risk management NewsBlog

Even “benign” activities can present serious hazards which require careful management…

Water margins provide wonderful opportunities for learning, play, enjoyment and challenge. They can nonetheless present significant hazards which require careful management – even during the most benign activities, according to the National Guidance document 7.2i Group Safety at Water Margins.

The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) produces National Guidance, which provides comprehensive support for the management of high-quality outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities.

This particular guidance document is about activities that take place near the water or just in it, such as: walking along a riverbank or seashore; cycling along a canal towpath; field studies near water, collecting samples from ponds and streams; beachcombing; paddling or walking in shallow water.

It does not cover swimming, surfing or watersports activities such as the use of water-going craft.

Learning to swim – the ideal start

“The best way to help young people to be safe around water is to teach them to swim, and for them to learn (through guided and supervised first-hand experience) to identify water hazards and safe practices near them.”

Whatever your reason for going, having a clear purpose and plan will help your group to get the most from the activity – and will help to maintain safety.

It is good practice to make a pre-visit to the site before you go there with a group. Having a competent person with you on a pre-visit may help you to identify hazards and assist you if you get into difficulty.

The guidance also covers the following topics:-

  • Risk management at the water margins
    • Water quality
    • Tides and currents
    • Quicksand
    • Jellyfish and other sea creatures
    • The surroundings
    • Weather
  • Preparation
  • Plan B
  • Leader competence
  • Group management and supervision.

The download also contains direct links a variety of other supporting OEAP National Guidance documents.


Download OEAP National Guidance document Ratios and Effective Supervision »

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

Outdoor education guidance for parents and carers

Outdoor education guidance for parents and carers

: Educational visits : Legal considerations : Management and supervision : Offsite visits : Outdoor learning : Parents and carers : Residential visits Essential NewsBlog

Helping your child to participate in learning outside the classroom

The ideal stating point for finding out how you can safely contribute

The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) produces National Guidance, which provides comprehensive support for the management of high-quality outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities.

One useful and efficient way to access relevant information is enabled by the ability to search documents by role: National Guidance for parents (parents, legal guardians and others who have parental responsibility for a participant) is one such category that can be found within OEAP National Guidance (NG).

NG also helps with parents who may have more than one role within the supervision arrangements for the visit: care must be taken to ensure that the role of parent does not conflict with this other role.

Categories of Guidance for parents

Relevant Guidance for parents occurs in the following three categories of NG:

  • Category 1 – Basic essentials
  • Category 3 – Legal framework and employer systems
  • Category 4 – Good practice.

Not surprisingly, it is generally recommended that the ideal starting point is Basic essentials. Document 1a Glossary and Definitions deals with an overview of terms and definitions that will prove to be a useful reference. It states, for example, that an “Adventure Activity” is

“An Activity which is exciting and challenging and which involves significant inherent risk of harm, without which the activity would lose much of its value, or which takes place in a remote or hazardous location.”

Another significant NG document is the Legal framework and employer systems download 3.4n Guidance for Parents, which includes information on

  • Consent
  • What you can expect
  • Looked-after children
  • Helping with a Visit*.

*This category provides useful information for those parents wishing to take an active part in an activity:-

“Sometimes schools, colleges, youth groups and other establishments ask parents to give practical help during a visit. If you are considering helping with a visit, please see OEAP National Guidance document 3.4m Helper”.

There are also links to many other supporting OEAP National Guidance documents.

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

Adventure activity supervision – an appropriate qualifications guide

Adventure activity supervision – an appropriate qualifications guide

: Educational visits : Leadership roles : Management and supervision : Offsite visits : Overseas visits : Risk management NewsBlog

The leading or advising competence verification process

Recently updated, the OEAP National Guidance document 6h FAQ: Adventure Activity Qualifications now includes links to a range of National Governing Body guidance.

The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) produces National Guidance, which provides comprehensive support for the management of high-quality outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities.

The changes make this particular document an ideal point of reference for anyone in the early stages of planning for activities including cycling, mountain training and canoeing.

In short, it deals with the qualifications that are appropriate for leading or advising on adventure activity.

The importance of the verification process

Anyone leading an adventure activity should have their competence confirmed by a robust verification process, such as:

  • holding a leadership/coaching award at an appropriate level;
  • being ‘signed off’ by a suitably qualified technical adviser appointed by the employer, based upon relevant qualifications, training and/or experience.

Awarding bodies referred to in the guidance include:-

  • British Cycling
  • The British Caving Association
  • British Canoeing
  • The Countryside Leader Award
  • Sports Leaders
  • Mountain Training.

The download also contains direct links a variety of other supporting OEAP National Guidance documents.

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

Why “Ratios and Effective Supervision” is one of the most popular outdoor education guidance documents

Why “Ratios and Effective Supervision” is one of the most popular outdoor education guidance documents

: Educational visits : Leadership roles : Legal considerations : Offsite visits : Outdoor learning : Overseas visits : Policies : Residential visits : Risk management Essential NewsBlog

It’s been downloaded over 48,000 times…

Planning, preparation and vigilance of competent leaders is key

“Establishments must ensure that the staffing of visits enables leaders to supervise young people effectively” says the National Guidance document Ratios and Effective Supervision.

The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) produces National Guidance, which provides comprehensive support for the management of high-quality outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities.

This significant document covers decisions that will need to be made with regards to the staffing and supervision of learning outside the classroom related activities. Consideration should be given to:-

  • The nature and duration of the visit and the planned activities
  • The location and environment in which the activity is to take place
  • The nature of the group, including the number of young people and their age, level of development, sex, ability and needs (behavioural, medical, emotional and educational)
  • Staff competence
  • The consequence of a member of staff being indisposed, particularly where they
    will be the sole leader with a group for any significant time.

“Staffing ratios are a risk management issue and should be determined through the process of risk assessment. It is not possible to set down definitive staff/participant ratios for a particular age group or activity.”

“Staffing, especially for visits to remote locations or overseas, should take into account how the group will be supervised effectively given the possibility of a leader becoming indisposed or having to leave the group, for example to accompany a sick child to hospital”, advises the document.

The download also contains direct links a variety of other supporting OEAP National Guidance documents.

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »