- The provision of effective supervision of students is crucial to their safety and to the achievement of the educational goals of the excursion or program's goals.
- Each activity lists the minimum leader: student ratios and provides details of any special Departmental requirements.
- Supervision must take into account the degree of risk associated with the planned activities (See Safety and risk management) and the skills, knowledge and experience of all the staff, and their capacity to manage emergency situations.
- In particular the Department's policy in relation to gender balance in staffing for co-educational parties undertaking activities overnight or in isolated circumstances must be adhered to.
- In all instances, it must be remembered that those teachers responsible for outdoor education, including the Principal, will be held accountable for the conduct of such activities and for the health, safety and welfare of participating students.
Principals must ensure that students are adequately supervised at all times with particular consideration of their physical and emotional maturity, and their gender.
- Appropriate staff supervision must be arranged for all co-educational groups. When the program involves overnight or isolated circumstances, and both male and female students are involved, there must be both a male and female leader, one of whom MUST be a teacher.
- When the party of students is all female or all male, then at least one leader of that same gender must be included. In this circumstance only, it is not necessary for both male and female leaders to be included, but again, one leader MUST be a teacher.
- The requirement for gender balance in leaders is necessary for all students regardless of age as the Crown's duty of care is the same whatever the age of the students. However, the legal standard of care required to discharge that duty will vary dependent on the student's age and ability to care for themselves. For example, although we owe a grade one and a grade ten student the same duty of care, they will require different levels of supervision which allows for a variance in the legal standard of care required. (See Legal issues).
Staff - student ratios
- The recommended staff:student ratios and the maximum number of students for particular activities must be adhered to. They are the minimum required for the conduct of the activity, and are based on considerations of safety, care of the environment, realistic work-load and intended educational outcomes. In all cases, the maximum number may require reduction to comply with the requirements of local land managers or specific environmental conditions e.g. weather.
- For all excursions, the Principal must appoint a registered teacher who has the authority to make decisions that will be supported and implemented by all other excursion staff. (Teacher registration).
- For most Outdoor Education activities, irrespective of the size of the group, a minimum of two adults are required, one of whom must be a registered teacher.
- In certain cases a Principal may deem that a group is sufficiently responsible, suitably experienced, and/or self-sufficient so that the activities may be conducted with only one teacher leader or as a special 'student only' expedition: e.g. with senior secondary students or Duke of Edinburgh assessment expeditions.
- The leader is the person who provides the instruction. This may be a teacher who has the necessary qualifications and experience but where no teacher with the necessary qualifications is available, an adult who has the necessary qualification and/or experience as detailed in the individual Activity Guidelines may be engaged as a leader.
- Where there is no widely recognised accreditation process in a particular activity, leaders will be required to verify their skills and experience by testimonials, logbooks or records of related professional development courses. (National Training and Training and Qualification Schemes)
- However, a teacher must be present to take overall responsibility and to ensure the relevant Activity Guidelines are adhered to.
- The safety of an outdoor program depends primarily on the leader whose selection should be based on his/her:
- leadership qualifications relevant to the activity;
- wide practical experience and familiarity with the area to be used;
- competence to lead the activity.
Assisting adults (including non-teacher Leaders)
- Any non-teacher (other staff member, volunteer, parent etc) accompanying a school group on an overnight excursion or on a day trip in remoter areas MUST have a Good character check.
- Where non-teachers accompany a group as assisting adults, their role is to assist with supervision or instruction. They should not be given responsibility for the sole supervision of students, except in an emergency.
- The role and duties of assisting adults must be clearly defined and agreed to before the commencement of this program. (Contractors, employees, and Volunteers)
- For general outdoor education excursions not involving hazardous activities (Types A, B and D, Approval processes) assisting adults will not require specific qualifications. However, they should be experienced in working with children and/or young adults and be briefed where necessary on discipline procedures, duties and responsibilities. The possession of a current first-aid qualification is desirable
- For specific adventure activities, (Type C, Approval processes), assisting adults must:
- have expertise and experience of the activity above the level of the group; and
- be able to take a leadership role in an emergency
- When the assisting adult is acting as leader in an instructional role in an adventure activity (including contractors), the adult must have the qualifications and experience as described in the activity guidelines.
Use of students as assisting adults
- Students who have reached the age of 18, and who hold a current qualification pertinent to instruction or rescue in an outdoor activity, may be used as an assisting adult in that activity, or to satisfy the requirement to have a 'qualified lifesaver' present
- The student would have the status of a voluntary worker and could be included as staff in the staff: student ratio.
- In all such cases:
- student involvement must be approved by the principal in advance
- student involvement must be voluntary
- care must be taken to ensure that students' own studies are not compromised
- the student should have recent experience at supervising or instructing groups of a similar age range to the school's students
- the student must never be expected to have sole responsibility for a group of students, other than in an emergency
- students accompanying a school group as an assisting adult on an overnight excursion or on a day trip in remote areas MUST have a recent Good character check