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 »