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What Are the Ratios of Adults to Children on School Trips?

Find out all you need to know before deciding on the ratio of adults to children on school trips.

When it comes to planning your school trip, one of the first things you’ll need to think about is the ratio of adults to children in order to provide appropriate supervision.

Now, there is nothing prescribed in law to dictate the ratio of adults to children on a school trip. But, as you will be in loco parentis, you will want to ensure that there are enough adults to supervise the children effectively.

Your employer or Local Education Authority may already specify minimum ratios of adults to children on school trips – if this is the case then you must follow their guidance.

If this is not the case, then there are a few things that you should think about before determining your ratio of adults to children.

Essentially, determining the ratio of staff to children on a school trip should be part of your risk assessment. The Outdoor Education Adviser's Panel National Guidance OEAP NG (OEAP NG) advises that you will need to consider the following:

Staffing

You will need to think about the staff members who would be available to accompany your trip. And in doing so, you will also need to think about their abilities and experience.

There is no requirement for children to be accompanied by staff of the same sex, but when this is not the case, you will need to think about the potential issues that might arise around privacy, safeguarding and pastoral support.

You can take staff members whose child is in the party, but you will then need to think about the fact that they might be distracted by the needs of their child and this could impede their ability to effectively supervise the rest of the party.

You could mitigate this by ensuring the parent does not have direct supervision responsibility for their own child or, if this is not possible, perhaps ensuring that other staff members are available to supervise the group should that staff member be distracted by the needs of their own child.

You will also need to think about what might happen if a leader becomes ill, injured or otherwise indisposed, perhaps dealing with a student who has become ill or injured, for example. You will still need to have enough members of staff to adequately supervise the group.

Activities

You will need to think about the activities that you want the group to take part in.

You should always include at least one member of staff who is first aid trained.

And you should take into account the experience of staff members. For example, there may be some activities you wish to take part in where inexperienced staff may be more appropriately considered as participants, rather than leaders.

Group characteristics

The characteristics of the group is a huge consideration when determining your adult to children ratios on school trips.

Things you will need to consider are the age of your students, as well as their ability, behaviour and maturity. You’ll also need to consider the gender make up of the group, as well as any other specific individual needs, including allergies, dietary requirements, any other medical needs and special educational needs.

Because the group characteristics will change with every single group, you will need to go through this process of determining the ratio of adults to children every time you plan a trip, even if it is a trip that you regularly run.

Environment

Finally, it is incredibly important to consider the environment of your school trip.

Are you going to an urban or remote location? Will it be quiet or crowded? Are there any extremes of weather you need to consider? What might the terrain be like? How easy will it be to communicate with your school and school tour operator should you need to?

Don’t forget to think about the accommodation arrangements and any environments you will need to pass through too.

And remember, if you’re travelling abroad, you may need to increase the ratio of adults to children on your school trip.

What ratio of adults to children have you quoted me for?

Unless you request otherwise, we usually include in our quotes free staff place ratios of 1:10 for school day trips and 1:8 for multi-day school trips.

Of course, if you need more accompanying staff, that’s not a problem, it may just increase the price per person slightly.

If you do require more accompanying staff, please contact your Travel Adviser, and they will be very pleased to help.

We hope you find this guide helpful. For more information on the risk assessment process, please see our guide to risk assessments.

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