See the next section on Risk management for all excursions and activities outside of the classroom and complete the compulsory Risk management process
All schools should develop an Outdoor Education policy to assist students, teachers and parents in understanding the purpose of outdoor education.
Such a policies might include:
- School context: including social, community and environmental factors affecting Outdoor Education provision.
- Equity and individual differences: how all students are able to access Outdoor Education.
- Challenge: how Outdoor Education programs challenge students.
- Curriculum: the program should be developed as an integral part of the school curriculum.
- Environmental Care: Outdoor Education focuses on the how students improve their understanding of, and appreciation for, environmental sustainability.
- Safety: All types of Outdoor Education programs provide a challenge for the participants, and an element of real risk may be part of that challenge. The safety of participants must, however, be planned for at all stages of the program (Safety and risk management) and parents must be included through the Approval process.
- Personal Development: Outdoor Education programs may contribute to personal development through positive experiences involving:
- learning to communicate effectively and work productively with others
- developing capacities to apply knowledge, to make choices and to take responsible actions.
- learning new skills and competencies in a practical setting.
- developing new and appropriate attitudes, values and behaviour including initiative, confidence, caring and leadership
- developing self concept through participation in wilderness activities. (See The Wilderness Program
- All programs outside the school must have the approval of the Principal including minor excursions in the local area of the school, and Principals must maintain a record detailing supervision delegations and safety processes of all programs.
- Parents should be given as much notice of the activity program as possible. Costs should be minimised and provision made for students who are unable to participate. (Approval process)
- All the approval requirements of the Department, other Land Managers and the school must be met and the Guidelines' advice on the specific activity included in this planning process. (Approval process)
- Prior to undertaking an activity not listed in these Guidelines, or when operating outside these guidelines, teachers must submit to the Principal for approval an outline of safety and risk management guidelines for the activity (Additional activities)
Leader qualifications and experience
The Principal has the responsibility for all arrangements for out-of-school programs, again whether it is a local excursion or a challenging outdoor activity, including arrangements for appropriate Supervision and Safety and risk management.
For all excursions and activity programs, the Principal must appoint a registered teacher who has the authority to make decisions that will be supported and implemented by all other excursion and/or activity staff.
Principals should refer to Contractors and employees, Supervision, Good character checks or Departmental policy on the appointment and roles of leaders, Volunteers and assisting adults, and the role of students as assisting adults
For specific qualifications for specific activities such as surfing or rockclimbing refer to Activity guidelines
- The minimum leader qualifications are included for each activity. Where there is no community qualification or Peak Body, reference is made to relevant experience and evidence of current participation required of leaders.
- National Qualification and Registration Schemes in Outdoor Activities
- There are now comprehensive National Training, Assessment and Accreditation standards in a wide variety of Outdoor Recreation activities, covering many activities for which there were no previous community training/qualification standards available.
- All qualifications, however, are only an indication of a previous level of expertise as demonstrated at a particular time. They should not be interpreted by a potential employer as an immediate guarantee of current competence. Any Certification should be used in conjunction with an ongoing log of experience and evidence of professional development/reaccreditation since assessment was initially made.
- Principals and teachers MUST ensure all students are adequately supervised at all times, taking into account
- the physical and emotional maturity and the gender of the students
- the degree of actual risk (not to be confused with perceived risk) associated with the planned activities
- the skills, knowledge and experience of all the staff, and their capacity to manage emergency situations.
- Refer to Supervision, especially Supervision of students for detailed Departmental directives particularly in relation to gender issues, use of assisting adults, Good character checks and Volunteers.
- The specified staff:student ratios and the maximum number of students for particular activities must be adhered to. These 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 most excursions and activities, irrespective of the size of the group, a minimum of two adults is required, one of whom must be a 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 recommended minimum requirement for first-aid is for at least one adult present to hold a current First-aid Certificate (Work Place II), although in urban areas a basic knowledge of first-aid and an ability to use it may be adequate.
However, for activities conducted away from immediate emergency support, it is strongly recommended that the leader has completed a Wilderness First-Aid Course or equivalent. (First aid)
An adequate first-aid kit must accompany each group on all excursions or outdoor activities. For most outdoor activities a suitable emergency kit must also be available. (First aid)
The venue must be appropriate for the activity and the level of experience/expertise of the group, and planning should include alternatives for inclement weather.
Areas that are environmentally sensitive may not be suitable for school use.
Such areas might include sensitive wetlands or alpine environments.
In all cases the relevant land manager should be contacted. (Access)
When developing a specific activity program, teachers must also:
- take into account the age, physical and psychological capabilities of the students, and their previous experience.
- decide whether selected activities are within the capabilities of students and are consistent with previous experience. Minimum age recommendations are included in Activity guidelines where relevant.
- provide for adequate preparation, including instruction in the proper use of equipment, in the skills of the activity, and in safety arrangements.
- include consideration of any special requirements such as Aboriginal sites, the UV policy, Alcohol use, Phytophthora and the Minimal impact code.
- provide for sequential skill development where relevant and inclusive programs for all students, including students with disabilities (Equity).
- Schools should identify the professional development needs of their teachers working in Outdoor Education and budget accordingly.
- Professional development courses are available through many community and professional organisations.
- Relevant peak bodies are referred to in the Activity Guidelines.
- Information on the Tasmanian Outdoor Education Teachers' Association (TOETA) and First aid providers is also included.
- Activity leaders and the teacher-in-charge must ensure that students have equipment, clothing and footwear that is suitable for the level of activity being undertaken and appropriate to the student's size and experience.
- The leader will determine what other specialised equipment, including emergency equipment and clothing, is required.
- All outdoor equipment must be regularly maintained.
- Schools must establish and document a program of maintenance inspection particularly of safety equipment such as ropes, harnesses, flares and major facilities such as rope courses and climbing walls. (Departmental staff will find a Playground Equipment page on the staff intranet).
- An appropriate vehicle must be available on site, or in close proximity, as referred to in specific guidelines. (Transport)
- Equipment used must conform to the standards stipulated in the individual Activity guidelines.
- Addresses and websites of community peak bodies and government organisations are included, along with selected references.
- The Department does not necessarily accept the standards developed by community peak bodies for self-regulation of an activity.
- These standards are usually developed by adults who are stipulating the level of risks they are prepared to accept for themselves.
- Nevertheless, these organisations can provide advice, training opportunities and expertise to schools when required. (Additional activities)