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 »

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 »

How to find an adviser for educational visits

How to find an adviser for educational visits

: Educational visits : Management and supervision : Offsite visits : Outdoor learning : Overseas visits : Policies : Residential visits : Risk management Essential NewsBlog

Learning outside the classroom expertise is available across the UK

As the lead body for guidance, advice and training related to outdoor learning and educational visits in England and Wales, the Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) supports members in their work with schools and services to children and young people.

“When planned and implemented well, outdoor education, offsite visits and adventurous activities contribute significantly to raising standards and developing knowledge and skills in ways that add value to everyday experiences in the classroom.”

They believe every child in every school should have access to a comprehensive programme of high quality outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities as an integral part of their school curriculum.

“The OEAP recommends employing or engaging an OEAP member who can provide high quality advice and training. They have extensive, detailed and appropriate knowledge and experience of all relevant types of establishment and the range of outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities that are provided to young people.”

How to find an OEAP adviser

OEAP members are advisers who support Local Authorities, schools and Academy Groups in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and many overseas settings. They work together to share and develop good practice in Offsite Visits, Outdoor Learning and Learning Outside the Classroom.


An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

Outside the classroom – how “SAGE” can help with decision making about staffing and supervision levels

Outside the classroom – how “SAGE” can help with decision making about staffing and supervision levels

: Leadership roles : Management and supervision : Outdoor learning : Policies : Risk management NewsBlog

The staffing of visits must enable leaders to supervise young people effectively

“Staffing ratios are a risk management issue and should be determined through the process of risk assessment” states the National Guidance document 4.3b Ratios and effective supervision.

It is not possible to set down definitive staff and / or participant ratios for a particular age group or activity, it continues.

Some employers, guidance documents and governing bodies do set out minimum ratios, but these should be regarded as starting points for consideration rather than being definitive, as they may be appropriate only where the activity is relatively straightforward, and the group has no special requirements.

“If your employer does specify minimum ratios, you must follow their guidance.”

How SAGE can help

A useful framework for assessing requirements for ratios and effective supervision is SAGE, says the guidance document.

  • Staffing: who is needed/available? The plan must work within the limits of available numbers, abilities and experience.
  • Activities to be undertaken: what do you want the group to do and what is possible?
  • Group characteristics: prior experience, abilities, behaviour and maturity, sex, any specific individual needs.
  • Environment: indoors or out; a public space or restricted access; urban, rural or remote; quiet or crowded; within the establishment grounds, close to the establishment or at a distance; and the ease of communications between the group and base. Do not overlook environments to be passed through between venues.
    • For residential visits consider the accommodation and surrounding area.
    • For outdoor environments, consider remoteness, the impact of weather, water levels and ground conditions.
    • Consider the implications of current guidance about avoiding infection during an epidemic.

 

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


Download OEAP National Guidance document 4.3b Ratios and effective supervision »

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

New to outdoor education? This is the ideal place to start…

New to outdoor education? This is the ideal place to start…

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

Practical help and advice for educators, governors, parents, venues and providers

If you’re new to the area of outdoor education or learning outside the classroom, it can sometimes seem a little overwhelming with regard to aspects of health and safety, planning, organisation and so on.

The good news is that the Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (also known as the OEAP) has put together a comprehensive package of help, advice and expertise called National Guidance.


A useful introduction is 1a Glossary and Definitions which will remove any uncertainty regarding terminology used in the sector.


When you’re ready to get going, the document 1b Foundations explains the OEAP National Guidance starting points for the planning and management of outdoor learning, off-site visits and learning outside the classroom.

There are three basic premises:-

  1. Well planned and facilitated opportunities to learn in the real world, away from the classroom, and to experience adventure, help to improve the lives of young people.
  2. Facilitating learning outside or off-site does not need to be more difficult than inside a classroom. Planning and management should, therefore, be practical, proportionate and non-bureaucratic.
  3. The key to effective and successful outdoor learning and off-site visits is:
    The right leaders doing the right activities with the right young people in the right places at the right times.

The topics included will help you get off to a flying start – and will point you in the direction of further sector specific information that may vary depending on your role or status.

This invaluable overview covers a number of key topics, including:-

  • Good Practice
  • The ‘SAGE’ Variables – Staff, Activities, Group, Environment(s), as well as the Interplay of the SAGE Variables
  • Standard and Enhanced Planning and Management

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


Download OEAP National Guidance document 1b Foundations »

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

How OEAP National Guidance can help you plan learning outside the classroom activities safely

How OEAP National Guidance can help you plan learning outside the classroom activities safely

: Covid-19 : DBS checks : Educational visits : Leadership roles : Legal considerations : Management and supervision : Offsite visits : Outdoor learning : Overseas visits : Policies : Residential visits : Risk management NewsBlog

The benefits of referring to National Guidance – and how to find the right documents

National Guidance has been developed by the Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) to help you organise high quality outdoor learning, adventurous activities and educational visits including residential and overseas visits.

How to use National Guidance

OEAP’s National Guidance comprises a set of documents providing information and guidance.

There are three fundamental documents that will help you to understand National Guidance, and which should be read by all users:

1a “Glossary and Definitions”
1b “Foundations”
1c “Status, Remit and Rationale”


Finding your way around

There are three ways to find information on OEAP’s National Guidance website:

  1. Browsing the Contents

The OEAP’s National Guidance documents are organised into eight folders each covering a broad theme. You can scroll down the National Guidance page or select National Guidance Contents in the National Guidance menu, to find links to each folder.

There is also a link to View all documents. This shows all the documents in numerical order, which may be useful if you know the number of the document you are looking for.

  1. Browsing by Role

Some of the documents have been identified as essential reading for different roles. To find the documents that are essential for your role, use:

  • the View roles link on the National Guidance page;
  • or the Guidance for Your Role list on some other pages;
  • or Guidance by Role in the National Guidance menu.
  1. Searching

Use the Search National Guidance function on the National Guidance page to enter the word or phrase you are looking for.  A search will find all guidance documents containing your search term in its title or on its information page.  If you don’t find what you are looking for, or if the search produces a lot of results, you may need to use an alternative or more specific search term.


An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

Every offsite visit venue needs a policy: help to get you started

Every offsite visit venue needs a policy: help to get you started

: Offsite visits : Policies NewsBlog

Why OEAP National Guidance may well be an ideal starting point…

“Every establishment should have a policy setting out its expectations of how outdoor learning, off site visits and learning outside the classroom will be managed” begins the OEAP National Guidance document 5.3b How to write an establishment visit policy.

Such policies are essential for outdoor learning, off-site visits and learning outside the classroom.

The policy detail will depend upon the type of establishment, the nature of the activities and visits it provides, and (if the establishment is not itself the employer) any relevant policies or guidance provided by the employer.

Unless an employer already has such documentation in place, the guidance recommends adopting OEAP National Guidance for 2 compelling – and reassuring – reasons:-

  1. It will ensure that it reflects nationally recognised standards that are kept up to date
  2. It will reduce significantly the amount of guidance material that you need to write.

The introduction should explain the scope of the policy, including who it applies to, and what activities it applies to.

“Why your establishment provides outdoor learning, offsite visits and Learning Outside the Classroom, and the part they play in the life of the establishment. This could include reference to your underpinning philosophy and to the anticipated benefits and outcomes.”

The document includes valuable information on the following:-

  • The scope of the policy – who it applies to, and what activities it applies to
  • Employer’s Policies and National Guidance
  • Clarification of Roles
  • Procedural Requirements
  • Monitoring
  • Induction, Training, Apprenticeship, Succession Planning
  • Risk Management and Risk-Benefit Assessment
  • Assessing Venues and Providers
  • Volunteers
  • Emergency Procedures and Incident Reporting
  • Behaviour
  • Inclusion
  • Insurance
  • Finance
  • Data Protection.

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »