Code of Practice

Somerset Natural Learning Academy

Code of Practice for supporting schools and other organisations working with children, young and vulnerable persons

Guidance for those working on behalf of the SNLA for organisations planning to use the services of SNLA
(This Code of Practice came into force on 1st September 2009)

Introduction

The Code of Practice explains how SNLA ensures that high standards are maintained in our teaching and learning processes, whilst protecting children and young people from negligent practice and the possibility of abuse. The Code of Practice, together with the Health and Safety Policy, the practice handbooks and the Child Protection Policy set out the practices SNLA expects of those working under its auspices. It also sets out our expectations of other education professionals and organisations with whom SNLA works.

This document should be read in conjunction with the Child Protection Policy and the Forest School/ Garden Activity handbook and generic Risk Assessments. For organisations wishing to use the services of SNLA all necessary additional documents, such as Risk Assessments, will be as part of our procedures prior to the activity taking place.  SNLA policy documents are available online at www.snla.co.uk

This Code of Practice is subject to annual review and to immediate review should an incident indicate the need for review or change in the law or best practice be notified.

About Somerset Natural Learning Academy

SNLA is a new organisation that has evolved from the educational work of the Glastonbury Trust.

Our activities with schools relate to the promotion of the spiritual and emotional benefits experienced by children and young people in connecting with the natural environment, as well as providing opportunities for challenging physical activity balanced with opportunities for stillness and reflection. We have worked substantially with Forest School and Labyrinths and these remain our primary promotional tools.
SNLA works alongside teachers and teaching assistants to support them in moving teaching and learning outdoors and to provide skills for achieving this in their local environment.

Much of our former work under SNLA took place in school grounds rather than ‘off-site’ and we actively promoted and supported the creation of school gardens in our local area (Glastonbury & Street). We also have a county-wide reach through our courses and conferences.

We hope that you will find all the details you require in this document, but we’ll be pleased to answer any further questions on request. Please refer any queries to the Chris Trwoga on 01458 833527. Or email: – learning@snla.co.uk or by post to ; -SNLA, 9 Lambrook  Street, Glastonbury, BA6 8BY.

Activities Provided by SNLA under this Code of Practice

  1. Curriculum based Activity Days/ Half Days
  2. Activities normally delivered under the title of Forest School.
  3. Labyrinth related activities including building temporary and permanent labyrinths with school or community groups.
  4. Guided walking activities that utilise the local environment.
  5. Training in stilling, guided meditation, breathing and reflective practice.

Any residential activities, including overnight camps, will be covered by a separate Code of Practice and are not currently offered by SNLA.

Definitions

The Party Leader is the person from the organisation who has overall responsibility for organising the off-site educational visit and has commissioned SNLA to support their curriculum delivery. Where the activity takes place in the school grounds the Party Leader will usually be the person appointed to liaise with SNLA in planning and organising the activities.

This term does not apply to activities offered to the general public where parents or guardians bring their children to an activity. Different safeguards will apply in this event and are set out below.

The Activity Leader is the person appointed SNLA to support the school in planning the activity. They will also assume responsibility for the management of the planned activities on or off-site.

Minimum Qualifications and/ or experience for Activity Leaders provided by SNLA

For general Forest School activities, on or off-site and gardening activities involving the use of sharp tools the Activity Leader will hold current Disclosure and Barring clearance, Forest School Leader qualified and hold a current First Aid Certificate.
For off-site walking activities, irrespective of the terrain and location, the Activity Leader will hold current Disclosure and Barring clearance, hold a MLTB (Summer) certificate and a current First Aid (outdoor) certificate.
To run classroom-based activities in stilling, meditation, relaxation, breathing work etc. the Activity Leader will be a qualified teacher and hold a Disclosure and Barring clearance.

Please note that other safeguarding measures are set out in our Safeguarding Policy

Supporting your organisation in Planning and Providing Outdoor Learning

SNLA undertakes to support the Party Leader in planning the activities and in discharging their duty of care to the school party.

SNLA will: –

  • Ensure there are adequate and regular opportunities for the Party Leader to liaise with SNLA staff before, during and after the visit.
  • Ensure there are opportunities for the Party Leader or their representative(s) to discuss the planned programme of activities with the appropriate employee of SNLA, usually the Activity Leader.
  • Ensure there is an accompanied visit to the activity site to enable the Party Leader to carry out their Risk Assessment.
  • Provide a current generic risk assessment (e.g. ‘woodland visits’) to support the Party Leader in completing their own risk assessment and, where necessary, provide any information necessary to complete their Educational Visit Forms.
  • Provide a timetable of events, setting out the precise nature of the intended activities.
  • On request, SNLA is happy to provide a suitable generic ‘Letter to Parents’, to ensure that the consent given by parents is informed consent.
  • Provide advice and training for school staff prior to the visit the better to safeguard the interests and educational needs of their children. (This service is usually provided free of charge.)
  • Provide a taster experience for participating school staff, to enable them to work safely and with confidence alongside the children. (This service may be provided free of charge.)

Planning the Curriculum

The director is a qualified teacher with more than 25 years full-time experience and is responsible for the general planning of activities carried out with Somerset schools on behalf of SNLA. In the planning of any activity or programme of activities the following principles will be adhered to:

  • The activity will comply with health and safety policy and Safeguarding best practice as set out in this document and in guidance issued by the appropriate national bodies, Somerset County Council, and the school’s own policy statements.
  • Will support the broad aims of SNLA in promoting spiritual development and emotional well-being through outdoor learning.
  • Will clearly identify the aims and objectives of the activity.
  • Will identify how the activity relates to the National Curriculum and/ or current educational best practice.
  • Will be identifiably a part of a coherent package of activities appropriate to the learning needs of children and young people.
  • Will specify the required staff/ pupil ratios and highlight the key elements of the risk assessment.

Quality Assurance

  • The Party Leader will be asked to complete an Evaluation Form. For research purposes children, on occasion be asked to comment on their response to the activity.
  • There will be periodic peer review of staff working on behalf of SNLA. There will be a defined mentoring programme to raise standards following peer review.
  • An annual review of an activity will be arranged by a third party of appropriate status and experience.

Health & Safety -Risk Assessments

SNLA complies with relevant safety regulations such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Any employee, contracted trainer or volunteer supervising an activity must be a qualified and experienced in the conduct of that activity. Qualified Forest School Leaders may support trainee Forest School Leaders who have completed their training and are awaiting assessment and/or qualification award.

Carrying out Risk Assessments

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers have a legal duty to assess the risks to health and safety from any aspect of their operations.

There are 5 steps in the process:

  1. Look for the hazards i.e. anything that could cause harm.
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how.
  3. For each hazard, evaluate the chance (risk) of harm actually being done and decide whether existing precautions are adequate or more should be done.
  4. Record the significant findings of your risk assessment e.g. the main risks and the measures taken to deal with them.
  5. Review the assessment from time to time, or in the event of an incident, and revise when necessary.

The Responsibility for Carrying out the Risk Assessment

The director is responsible for ensuring the risk assessment has been carried out, the information logged and communicated to the relevant stakeholders. The Risk Assessment will be carried out in accordance with the procedures set out below.

SNLA will ensure that every activity is risk assessed. The Activity Leader designated by SNLA will be responsible for ensuring that the measures set out in the Risk Assessment are carried out. Risk Assessment is vital to ensure all adults are aware of any potential hazards and what actions need to be implemented to reduce risk. Some actions will be preventative and implemented before a session starts, such as removing thorny branches from a regular path or teaching children specific skills to undertake activities, other actions will be responsive, for example leaving a woodland if the weather conditions become severe.

Risk Assessments of outdoor spaces including woodland

Two types of risk assessment will be undertaken; Seasonal Risk Assessment and Pre-Visit Site Check. The Seasonal Risk Assessment will be undertaken in September, January and April. Some of the actions to reduce risk may not be possible immediately, such as tree surgery, replacing fencing and removing hazardous plants. In such cases temporary solutions will be employed, such as marking areas out of bounds, or changing the activity location until the longer term solution is in place. The pre-visit site check can be carried out on the morning the site is to be used prior to the group arriving at the site. Remedial action should be carried out before the group arrives where possible, such as clearing trip hazards from paths, pruning plants, or taking down unsafe structures. Activity Leaders should arrive at least 30 minutes before the main party to facilitate the site check.

All site risk assessments must be logged on the appropriate forms and copies sent to SNLA office. (An example of a Risk Assessment is attached to this code of practice)

Staff/ Pupil ratios and the Risk Assessment

Staff/ Pupil ratios must be in line with any guidelines provided by the relevant authorities. SNLA believes that children benefit from working with small groups. The Forest School and Gardening Handbook sets out the recommended group sizes and staffing ratios for each activity.

The activity risk assessment will state the required staff-pupil ratios required for that activity and the qualification level for the person managing the activity. If sharp tools are being used the Activity Leader must be satisfied that all supporting adults are competent and confident in supporting children. This will usually be achieved through pre-activity training in the use of a specified tool, e.g. mini-hacksaw or hand-drill.

Recommended Adult-Student ratios for planning Forest School Visits

nursery = 1:3, reception = 1:4, Years 1,2,3 = 1:6, Years 4,5,6 = 1:8, Year 7+ = 1:10, plus 1 extra adult in case of emergency. For school site Forest Schools these ratios are not statutory but are recommended, as some activities require high adult ratios.

Guidance for Walking Activities

All walking routes are pre-walked by the Activity Leader. Potential hazards are noted and where risks levels cannot be reduced to acceptable levels a new route must be found. Details of the route are mapped and provided to the school in time to facilitate their own risk assessment. Walking parties will include an adult with an MLTB (Summer) certificate or an equivalent qualification unless the walk is local to the school.

As part of the risk assessment the Activity Leader will check the clothing and footwear of the Party prior to departure. Footwear and clothing must be appropriate for the route and the school made aware of the need to provide some spare clothing to avoid excluding a child from an activity because they do not possess adequate clothing. It is the responsibility of the school to ensure children are appropriately clothes and shod, but the responsibility of the Activity Leader to curtail or cancel the walk if children are not adequately clothed. Part of any Risk Assessment must include hazards from stings and bites, including ticks. Long trousers and sleeves are therefore mandatory for any walk where open countryside or woodland is traversed.

The routes offered by SNLA will, in most instances, be one of several well-established routes, such as the landscape surrounding Glastonbury Tor or the walk from the car park opposite the Street Youth Hostel to Dundon Hill. Other local walks are available in the Mendips. Walks offered will usually be between 2 and 10 miles and appropriate to the age group.

High Visibility Jackets must be worn by the persons to the front middle and rear of the party if roads are to be crossed as part of the walk. For KS1 and KS2 all members of the party must wear high viz jackets if roads are crossed.

The maximum permitted group size for a walk is 18 children for low lying terrain, and the following minimum supervision ratios apply.. KS1 – 1:3 , KS2 – 1: 4, KS3 & KS4 – 1 : 6.

For non-local walks the Activity Leader must plan for all weathers, as well as ‘accident and emergency’ as part of the risk assessment. The following items of equipment must be available to the party. 2 spare sets of appropriately sized waterproofs, 2 spare hats and gloves. 1 emergency bivvy bag, 1 sleeping bag, 1 kissu, 1 first aid kit, 2 mobile phones, 2 litres of water, map and compass, emergency contact numbers.

The Somerset landscape is intensively farmed and livestock is a regular presence. It will be the policy of the Trust to avoid taking children across fields where cows with calves or bulls are present. Part of the preparation for any walk must be teaching respect for the countryside and safety and respect for livestock and how children should conduct themselves in the presence of livestock. Risk assessments must plan for this eventuality.

SNLA does not currently offer to support walking activities outside of the Somerset area.

The Supervision of Children during an activity supported by SNLA

“Teachers and other staff in charge of pupils have a common law duty to act as any reasonably prudent parent would do in the same circumstances.”

The Party Leader provided by the school is in loco parentis at all times and retains the sanction to withdraw children from the activities at any time. The Party Leader’s authority remains paramount.

The Party Leader is responsible for ensuring that children are adequately and appropriately clothed for the planned activity in accordance with general advice for outdoor learning and specific advice given by SNLA.

As a condition of supporting school activities in our garden or woodland spaces Party Leaders agree to maintain the discipline and supervision of their party. Schools remain responsible for the behaviour of their students and for their general supervision, whether the activity takes place either within school grounds or at an external site.

School staff accompanying pupils, be they teachers, teaching assistants or volunteers, are expected to be proactive at all times in supporting children in the conduct of the activity. School staff will not be asked to provide support or advice to children during an activity where specialised training is required to provide that support or advice safely.

The SNLA Activity Leader will welcome the group to the activity area. He/She will commence the activity with a health and safety briefing. It is at the end of the Health & Safety briefing that SNLA Activity Leader will assume responsibility for the health and safety of the party with respect to the working environment and the conduct of the activity and the School Party Leader delegates the responsibility for the running of the activity to the Activity Leader. The choice of this moment in procedure is to fulfil the need for presumed consent on the part of the party to the health and safety procedures as explained by the Activity Leader.

SNLA Activity Leader is responsible for ensuring that the working environment is safe, that the children are not putting themselves at risk in the proper conduct of the activity, that the activity is managed to a high standard, that all present, adults and children included, are aware of their roles and responsibilities, and that the steps that need to be taken to manage risk are understood by all.

SNLA Activity Leader will signal the close of the activity, usually as part of a closing circle, and will formally hand back the management of the group to the Party Leader. In the event of an emergency or a serious breakdown in party discipline, the Activity Leader reserves the right to hand back the management of the group to the Party Leader at any time. This will be done in the form of an unequivocal oral request.

Notwithstanding the above the following responsibilities are retained by the Party Leader.

  • The school remains responsible for the general management and behaviour of the group and any health and safety issues not related to the conduct of the activity being delivered by SNLA Activity Leader.
  • The Party Leader may intervene at any time with regard to a disciplinary matter or an issue of health and safety. It is important to bear in mind that those managing the activity on behalf of SNLA may manage children differently, and over-zealous interventions by school staff may defeat some of the activity objectives.
  • Schools have a responsibility to make SNLA Activity Leaders aware of any child or young person who may present significant behavioural or learning challenges. In the event of children or young persons with significant disabilities, such as mobility loss or serious behavioural or learning difficulties, the school should inform SNLA of any such issues 14 days prior to the day of the activity as part of the Risk Assessment Procedure.
  • SNLA Forest School Leaders are qualified First Aiders. The Trust requests that schools provide their own First Aider, who will be the first port of call in any accident requiring medical intervention. They must inform SNLA if no school first aider is available. The Party Leader remains responsible for the administration of first aid unless a specific request to the Activity Leader is made that this be otherwise and is accepted by the Activity Leader.
  • The Party Leader is responsible for the administration of all medications. Under no circumstances will SNLA take responsibility for the administration of any medication to a child or young adult unless expressly authorised to do so in the case of a life threatening medical emergency.
  • The Party Leader is responsible for deciding whether a party member should be referred to a doctor or hospital, with the assistance of first-aid qualified staff from SNLA.
  • The Party Leader is responsible for notifying parents of any doctor or hospital visit, or other incident affecting a member of their group. He / she must therefore hold a list of contact numbers or have 24 hr access to this information.

Safeguarding

  1. All those who work on behalf of SNLA must have Disclosure and Barring clearance. There must be an unbroken CV history, supported by a suitable referee. Photocopies of the relevant documents are held at the SNLA office, together with copies of relevant qualifications. All copies held have been made from originals. Any person employed by SNLA must provide proof of identity in the form of 3 original documents (e.g. passport, utility bill and driver’s license). Copies of these documents will be held at the SNLA office. All Activity Leaders will be peer reviewed once a year by a qualified teacher.
  2. Activity Leaders will be appropriately experienced and trained to supervise the activity they are leading.
  3. Activity Leaders must have attended appropriate Safeguarding training and be fully conversant with the procedures set out in this document.
  4. All activities run by SNLA and its representatives must be overseen by an adult from the school staff. In some instances, where the activity is based at the school, SNLA, at its discretion may agree to run an activity without the presence of a member of the school staff provided:
    a) One SNLA employee is a qualified teacher with current Disclosure & Barring clearance.
    b) A second Adult, who has Disclosure & Barring Clearance and is of the opposite sex is present throughout.
    c) One adult present is a qualified First Aider.
  5. Employees, volunteers and sub-contractors employed by SNLA present at an activity will identify themselves by their legal name. Staff must wear an identity badge.
  6. We will normally provide a First Aider for outdoor activities. Notwithstanding this, Schools are requested to provide First Aider who will their own be the first port of call in the event of an incident.
  7. In the case of children who need help with toileting or other forms of direct physical support/ intervention, the school must provide the necessary staff to carry out these duties.
  8. SNLA employees, volunteers and sub-contractors will actively avoid physical contact with children, irrespective of age or gender. In rare instances physical contact with a child may be necessary to prevent an injury. SNLA employees, volunteers and sub-contractors, should describe why the physical contact is required and seek consent in a way that is understood and acknowledged. In the event of a physical intervention to prevent an injury or restrain a child for any reason, this must be reported to a supervising adult from the school immediately. A written report must be submitted to the SNLA director.
  9. In the event of a complaint about physical or sexual abuse made about an employee, volunteer or sub-contractor of SNLA a report must be made to the SNLA director and the school or organisation concerned with immediate effect. The SNLA director will, after consulting with the school/institution, refer the matter to the appropriate authorities as set out in Somerset County Council’s Safeguarding procedures and the Safeguarding procedures of the Bath and Wells Diocese.
  10. No representative of SNLA will photograph or otherwise create images of children without the express consent of the school. Where consent is given, schools will be provided with a copy of images taken to ensure that no child has been accidentally photographed when parental consent has not been given. If the images taken are to be used in any public context consent must first be obtained from the parents via the school.
  11. Activity Leaders and other employees or representatives of SNLA must never agree to transport children, young persons or other persons from the visiting group in their cars.
  12. Activity Leaders and other persons in the employ or volunteering for SNLA must not give out their personal contact information, such as email addresses or phone numbers to children, young persons or vulnerable adults that form part of a visiting group. Under no circumstances will they solicit such information from the visiting party, other than, as appropriate, to contact party leaders or supervising adults.
  13. Any information provided by third parties concerning any client, including children, young adults and vulnerable adults will remain confidential. Information received accidentally or incidentally during an activity will remain confidential. The only exceptions are safeguarding interventions and then only to the proper authorities.

SNLA Policy on Inclusion

SNLA endeavours to plan activities so that no child is excluded on the grounds of age, disability, gender, sexuality or learning/ behavioural needs. The Trust will ensure that no child feels excluded on the grounds of race, ethnic origin or religious beliefs.

Schools must provide for students who have special health, ability or behavioural needs in accordance with the schools own provisions. Where a student may have difficulty accessing a site or activity the school must inform SNLA prior to any activity taking place so that advice can be given and any special arrangements made.

Any material facts that may influence SNLA’s own risk assessment, such as a child with a significant disability, illness, behavioural or learning needs must be reported to the Activity Leader at least 14 days before the activity takes place.

SNLA reserves the right to request that a child is withdrawn from an activity on the grounds that their behaviour presents a significant risk to themselves or others or is deemed offensive to others. Where a child is unable to complete a task on the grounds of ability the activity leader will endeavour to provide enough support to enable the task to be completed by the child at a level where appropriate learning is still taking place.

Schools should note that group access to our woodland site involves a walk of several minutes. There is direct 4 wheel drive access in most weathers.

Preventing Accident and Injury

SNLA complies with all relevant safety regulations such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Any employee, contracted trainer or volunteer supervising an activity must be appropriately qualified and experienced in the conduct of the specified activity or procedure. Qualified Forest School Leaders may support.

The Activity Leader or person(s) delegated by SNLA will:

  1. Satisfy themselves that the seasonal risk assessments for Chalkham Wood do not reveal hazards that cannot be overcome by appropriate procedures or that the school-based/ off-site working environment is free of significant hazard.
  2. Ensure that all safety equipment (First Aid Kit, Fire Blanket, 20 litres of water, sleeping bag, bivvy bag, 2 spare sets of waterproofs, mobile phones, emergency contact details, kissu or similar emergency shelter) are in place in the wood and serviceable not more than 24 hours prior to the off-site activity taking place.
  3. Check with the Party Leader that the school can provide minor injury evacuation requiring attendance at a doctor or minor injury unit. The Activity Leader will also check on the mobile phone signal strength in case of emergency evacuation on the morning of any activity. Two phones must be available when working at Chalkham Woods.
  4. Provide a generic risk assessment for the intended activity to facilitate the party’s own risk assessment procedures.
  5. Accompany the Party Leader on a visit to the activity site for the collection of information pertinent to the Party’s completion of their own risk assessment. Where the activity site is within the school grounds of the party, the school has the responsibility for ensuring the site is safe and fit for the purpose.
  6. Make a Pre-Visit Site Check not more than 24 hours before the activity and produce a Risk Assessment based on that visit. If significant new hazards have emerged since the visit by the Party Leader (as, for example, after severe weather conditions) a copy of any observations must be sent to the school. This may recommend that the activity site is no longer safe or suitable and will recommend an alternative. Specific risk assessments issued by SNLA will be signed and dated by the person writing the risk assessment.
  7. Ensure that all those working on the activity (teachers, teaching assistants, SNLA employees, volunteers and children.) are fully briefed on the procedures as set out in the Activity / Pre-Visit Site Check Risk Assessment.
  8. Ensure that no activity takes place unless the appropriate staff/ pupil ratios can be applied. In most instances these ratios are achieved by staff from the school working alongside activity leaders from the Trust. The Activity Leader will explain to the Party Leader at the planning stage how many adults the school must provide and what is expected of the adults attending. If the ratios cannot be achieved for a planned activity, for example, as the result of an absence, a new activity will be planned.
  9. Ensure that individual activity plans highlight the specific hazards and the procedures to be adopted to reduce identified hazards to an acceptable level.
  10. Ensure that all tools and equipment are checked as part of the Pre-Visit Site Check and unserviceable tools and equipment rejected. Equipment stored at Chalkham Woods will also be subject to servicing as part of the seasonal risk assessment of the wood (4 times a year.) in addition to any Pre-Visit Site Check. The equipment will be itemised in this check and filed with the seasonal risk assessment for the wood.
  11. Those working with children or young people on behalf of SNLA will attend a relevant health and safety training event not less than twice a year. They will also be formally peer assessed in their working practices twice a year. It will be necessary for them to pass this review in terms of their adherence to the Code of Practice and procedures set out in the Handbook if they are to continue working with children and young people.

Reporting Accidents resulting in injury and incidents where significant injury might have occurred
(e.g. as a result falling branch, faulty equipment etc. )

Activity Leaders are issued with a standard accident form to fill in at the scene of the accident / incident. This information must be copied into the accident book, kept at SNLA offices, and signed by the person who wrote the initial report. This must be as soon as possible in the case of a significant injury or hospitalisation. On-site and office copies will be filed together in a locked cabinet accessible only by the executive officer and the Trustee with oversight for Health and safety or those with a legal right to access under the terms of the Data Protection Act.

Schools should file their own accident report. SNLA will inform the school that an accident report has been filed and a letter sent to the school acknowledging the incident.

All accidents or incidents caused by defective equipment or removable natural hazard must be recorded. (see below)

The accident record file should be regarded as a valuable tool informing Risk Assessment, as well as fulfilling the Trust’s duties under Health and Safety legislation.

Accident & Emergency Procedures
Reporting Accidents & Incidents

  • An accident report form must be filled in for all dangerous incidents or injuries other than the most minor scratches, cuts or bruises that might arise as a consequence of normal play. If treatment is given, such as cleaning a wound and applying a dressing an accident form must be filled in.
  • The information provided will be logged in the accident book (kept in SNLA office, 2-4 High Street, Glastonbury. All records, other than incident numbers will be secured in a locked cabinet and treated as confidential under the terms of the Data Protection Act.
  • School Party Leaders are expected to follow their own procedures as set out in their school health and safety policies.
  • The appropriate persons/ authorities will be informed (police/ parents etc.) although in the event of a school party this responsibility may be discharged by passing the information on to the Party Leader or contacting the school direct.

SNLA will maintain an accident book at their office which is compliant with Data Protection requirements. This information will be held in a form that will only be accessible to the executive officer and the Trustee with responsibility for Health and Safety.

General Procedures for Activity Leaders following an Accident

  1. Make the individual safe (if the hazard is ongoing) and ensure the safety of the party.
  2. Ensure first aid is administered if required and inform the executive officer as soon as possible if attendance at a doctor or hospital was necessary.
  3. Ensure the Party Leader is informed if a school child is involved.
  4. An accident report form must be completed and returned to the executive officer.
  5. In the case of all accidents, incidents, near misses, etc, not involving injury an accident/ incident form must still be filled in.

Serious Accidents and Emergencies

  1. On school sites a member of the school staff should attend to the injured person whilst another should reassure the rest of the group. If outside help is required than a member of the school staff should arrange this – it must never be left to an unaccompanied child. The school’s own emergency procedures should be invoked.
  2. If the accident takes place at Chalkham Woods or on a guided walk, refer to the Party Leader, but do not delay in dialling 999 if required. Ensure that the emergency contact details card is carried at all times. If it is not serious but you require assistance, contact SNLA Office or other delegated person by prior arrangement. – in either case, be ready to give:
    • Your name
    • Nature of incident
    • Number of people involved
    • Exact location
    • Time of accident
    • Action taken so far
    • If necessary, wait at a pre-arranged point to direct the ambulance or transport to the scene of the accident.
  3. If a member of staff has to accompany the injured person to hospital, do not continue with activities if it is not safe to do so.
  4. In any event SNLA member of staff managing the incident must ensure that no action taken puts the rest of the party in the way of danger.
  5. The responsibility for directing the provision of first aid as part of a serious off-site medical emergency should be agreed between Party Leader and Activity Leader prior to the activity and be based on qualifications, medical experience and local knowledge. In all instances the safety of the injured child is paramount. It may well be, for example, that a child experiencing a serious asthma attack, will be best treated by the first aider who knows the child. In order to deal with a 999 emergency the Activity Leader must be fully equipped to give the activity location at all times as part of fulfilling the needs of the Risk Assessment. Likewise, signal strengths for mobile phones must be checked as part of the Pre Visit Site Check. The Activity Leader must have equipment to hand to make a child comfortable whilst waiting for an ambulance in adverse weather conditions.
  6. Emergency procedures will be the subject of specific Health and Safety training not less than once a year.

Understanding the Insurance Arrangements

It is the responsibility of the Party Leader to arrange any additional insurances for an off-site visit to cover travel to and from the activity area, theft of property or personal accident and injury cover. The Party Leader is responsible for ensuring that parents are aware of the scope, terms and conditions of the school’s own insurance cover.

SNLA insures against public liability claims (£5,000,000), product liability and professional indemnity for any advice it may give to schools or for breach of appropriate procedures resulting in an actionable claim. The cover is for any activity site and for advice given relating to teacher training, documentation provided to schools, advice given and failure of procedure. (A copy of the Trust’s Public Liability Certificate is attached to this document.)

Transport to and from the Activity Site

Activity Leaders will normally make their own transport provision to and from the activity site. They may be asked to transport small amounts of equipment that can be safely transported in the boot of a car. The final responsibility for ensuring that equipment is on-site lies with the executive officer who may delegate that responsibility. Activity Leaders and other employees or representatives of SNLA must never agree to transport children in their cars. They may, at their own discretion, transport other adults working for the Trust or the school but are advised to check the terms of their vehicle insurance.

Schools will normally be asked to make their own transport arrangements. The Activity Leader must ensure that the driver is fully conversant with the point of disembarkation.

Where SNLA agrees to support a school or organisation in arranging transport the following will apply:

  • An approved local company, using buses not more than 8 years old and fully fitted with seat belts may be hired. The booking will normally be made through the school and support from the Trust come in the form of a charitable bursary. Such bursaries would normally only be available to local schools.
  • SNLA may provide a school minibus to transport children, where a fully compliant school minibus is available and where an Activity Leader or other CRB cleared adult has a valid driver training certificate from Somerset County Council and recent appropriate minibus driving experience. This provision will only be facilitated for local primary and infant schools where suitably qualified drivers are not available at the school. In this instance the procedures as set out in the Forest School Handbook and Somerset County Council’s current procedures for transporting children in minibuses must be followed.

With off-site visits the organisational liabilities of SNLA commence at the point the party arrive at the designated activity site. If there is any variation on this – as for example if SNLA supports a local school by arranging transport – the nature of these responsibilities will be explained clearly to the school.

Schools should note there is no coach access to Chalkham Woods. A minibus can get to within 500 metres of the activity area. Smaller coaches can be used by arrangement but this involves a kilometre walk to the activity site or transfer to minibus to reduce the walking distance.

A Quick Checklist for the School Party Leader planning the Activity

This checklist set out below is not exhaustive and does not necessarily comply with mandatory practice set out by Somerset County Council. The function of the list is to provide a framework for Party Leaders to check that the appropriate approved procedures have been followed.

  • Ensure that the planned activities comply with regulations and guidelines of your establishment’s health and safety policy and any policy on educational visits, if going offsite.
  • Gain approval from manager/headteacher/governors/LEA (if applicable for some offsite visits.
  • For off-site visits ensure that all paperwork required by Somerset County Council is posted well in advance of the activity (a minimum of a month is advisable so that any queries can be handled.
  • Prepare Helpers – It is important that all adults know the expectations of Forest Schools to ensure consistency. SNLA offers training and taster sessions for your helpers, so they are secure in the routines and activities. Ensure that the use of any volunteers or ‘trusted adults’ complies with current legislation and policy with regard to CRB clearance.
  • Parental consent and communication is required for any offsite visits. Parents/carers should be informed about all parts of the proposed visit, and complete a consent form if in agreement. Emergency contact details and any relevant medical details including allergies, will need to be supplied and a summary sheet produced to take on the visit.
  • Hold a parent briefing to introduce Forest Schools to others staff and parents, explaining the aims, ethos and what activities their children may be doing. Ensuring that they know how to dress/what to equip their child with.
  • Ensure that the adult ratios for off-site visits can be met. Refer to the ratios set out in the school policy statements.
  • Ensure at least one of the supervising adults is first aid trained, and that a first aid kit is available at all times. Be aware of the nearest hospital and estimated time for ambulance attendance.
  • Insurance – If going on an offsite visit ensure the school insurance covers offsite visits. You will also need copies of SNLA’s public liability insurance as well as any transport companies used.
  • Prepare pupils – Ensure pupils are aware of what to expect and informed of what to bring. On offsite visits pupils should be very clear they must not separate themselves from the group unless in an adult supervised context.
  • Transport – Ensure correct ratios on transport (the driver does not count) and the children are wearing their seatbelts (and booster seats if appropriate). The transport drivers should be qualified, and the vehicle must be fully insured and comply with vehicle regulations for the transport of children.
  • Planning – Ensure sessions are planned appropriately for the group and the site. Ensure accompanying adults are aware of the aims and their responsibilities during the session. Some activities may need to be risk assessed, please see section below.
  • Risk Assessment – Ensure site, activities and possible children are risk assessed appropriately. All risk assessments should be shared with all accompanying adults and acted upon where necessary. Please see sections below.
  • Emergency procedure – A procedure should be in place in case of an emergency. It is advisable to carry a mobile phone during your visit, and be aware of the nearest landline. Regular head counts are advisable.

In addition schools should be aware of the following –

  • Smoking is not permitted during the course of any activity involving children, regardless of the nature or location of the outdoor spaces used. In outdoor activities where only adults are present smoking is only permitted well away from non-smoking adults.
  • School group members must not behave in an anti-social fashion, e.g. use offensive or insulting language threatening behaviour or bullying. Illegal activities will be reported to the school supervising adults and the authorities may be informed where necessary.
  • Pupils must not leave the activity area (for example to go to the toilet) unless accompanied by a supervising adult provided by the school.
  • Party members must follow the country code:

– Enjoy the countryside and respect its life and work
– Do not drop litter
– Respect farm animals as well as wild flora and fauna
– Keep to public paths when crossing the countryside
– Fasten gates if they were closed on your arrival
– Use gates and stiles to cross fences, hedges and walls
– Leave the countryside as you found it

Additional Documents available on Request

  1. SNLA Child Protection Policy
  2. SNLA Forest School, Outdoor Learning Garden  & Craft Activity Handbook. (Health & Safety)
  3. SNLA Generic Risk Assessments for the specified activity

Attached Documents

  1. SNLA Public Liability Certificate
  2. Accident/ Incident Report Form
  3. Standard Risk Assessment Form