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 »

Natural water bathing outdoor education National Guidance

Natural water bathing outdoor education National Guidance

: Management and supervision : Outdoor learning : Risk management NewsBlog

How a balanced approach will ensure that the risks are properly managed…

“Taking young people on a visit to the seaside or other open water in good weather, and then not allowing them to at least paddle or cool off in the water if it is safe to do so, is unreasonable and inappropriately risk-averse.”

So states the National Guidance document 7.1o Natural Water Bathing, which importantly adds that a balanced approach will ensure that the risks are properly managed so that young people are given these opportunities.

This particularly hot summer has already lead to a number of unfortunate incidents regarding young people getting into misfortune in rivers, lakes and the sea. Swimming and paddling in natural waters present real risks: around 400 people drown every year in the UK, with the overwhelming number of incidents being with peer-led unsupervised sessions.

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 most effective way to reduce the risk of young people drowning is to teach them to swim and to give them the skills to make sound judgements about playing in and around natural waters.”

Natural Water Bathing should always be a robustly structured activity. This may be by reference to a pre-planned risk assessment and corresponding operating procedure, or it may be by making a more spontaneous plan, either of which should be reinforced by careful observation and judgement at the time. As with any activity, the leader must be absolutely clear that participants are not exposed to any significant risks. The pleas of participants to be allowed to bathe (e.g., because it is hot weather) must never be allowed to over-ride the leader’s judgement of the situation.

As with other activities, planning should consider the SAGE variables – each of which is dealt with in detail in the guidance document:

  • Staff
  • Activity
  • Group
  • Environment.

Guidance for swimming pools and safety at water margins

7.1x Swimming pools »

This document provides guidance for using swimming pools during off-site visits. It does not supersede any policy or guidance about swimming pools that your employer may have.

7.2i Group Safety at Water Margins »

This 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.

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


Download OEAP National Guidance document 7.1o Natural Water Bathing »

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 »