Outdoor Activities » Off Site Excursions Guidance

In this section:

    1. Guidance on Off Site Excursions
    2. Guidance on Adventure Activities
    3. Risk Assessments
    4. EVOLVE

1. Guidance on Off Site Excursions

The current guidance for all off site excursions involving young people under the governance of The Highland Council and High Life Highland can be found in the Resources section of EVOLVE.

Going Out There – is the ‘Scottish Framework for Safe Practice in Off-site Visits’ The framework has been developed in partnership by the Scottish Government, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education (SAPOE), Education Scotland and the Association of Directors of Education, with input from other partners including voluntary organisations and providers.

It refreshes and updates the Health and Safety on Educational Excursions (HASEE) guidance and its supplements which are now withdrawn. It replaces both HASEE and other related or predecessor guidance. It adopts a low bureaucracy, enabling approach to outdoor experience and off-site visits, reflecting the step change in the approach to educational visits detailed in the HSE High Level Statement, ‘School trips and outdoor learning activities: Tackling the health and safety myths‘.

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2. Guidance on Adventure Activities

The current guidance for all Adventure Activities involving young people under the governance of The Highland Council and High Life Highland can also be found in the Resources section of EVOLVE.

Where an excursion involves activities such as

  • Canoe sports
  • Snowsports
  • Moutainsports
  • Cycle sports
  • etc…

Benefits need to be balanced against the risks involved which are managed by experienced and competent staff. If the benefits of an activity do not significantly outweigh the risks the activity will not be undertaken. Between providers and excursion leaders all foreseeable hazards associated with participation will have been assessed and control measures put into place to reduce the risk of injury to themselves, participants, leaders and 3rd parties.

Parents, carers and young participants therefore should be aware that adventurous activities and other off site excursions can present less familiar hazards in less familiar environments and accidents can happen.  Precautions have been taken to minimise risks. Parents, carers and participants taking part in these, and other similar activities, should be informed of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement”.

Participants in well organised and risk managed activities should know that of the three million plus school children who are involved in adventure activities throughout the UK each year, (7-10 million days of school visits) on average just one child a year dies taking part in an adventurous activity. On average three children a year die on a school visit whilst not involved in an adventurous activity.

Excellent guidance is provided on adventure activity ratios in the Guidance on activity ratios

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3. Risk Assessments

A risk assessment is a simple thing that we routinely do in our lives – every day. It is based on;

‘what can go wrong and what can I do to reduce the effects to an acceptable level’?

Most risk assessment forms require the [significant] Hazard – which is ‘something that has the potential to cause harm’ to be listed. The Risk – is the effect and the probability of the harm. An elephant falling from the sky for example would have a very large local impact, but is very improbable, so it would not need to be in a risk assessment! Slips, trips and falls on a museum visit are a possibility, but are associated with normal day to day life i.e. humans moving about. This would only be a significant hazard (and so included in a risk assessment) if there were unusual conditions present. Control Measures list the measures taken to reduce the ‘risk’ and must be reasonable and practicable. Too many and the value of the risk assessment is lost.

So, keep risk assessments simple and relevant ……………..

Excursion Risk Assessments must be created by Highland Council and High Life Highland staff/volunteers leading any off site excursion. They should take into account

People + Environment + Activity (PEA!)

Expert advice on the environment and activity can be obtained from those leading / providing the activities. Any excursion risk assessment should consider all three factors and be discussed with all staff and participants. There is no point in having control measures and no one knows them!

Generic Risk Assessments

Generic Risk Assessments for Adventurous Activities are available for staff creating a Visit Plan in EVOLVE. Establishments would also be wise to develop, maintain and update generic risk assessments for commonly undertaken activities and excursions within the establishment and local area.  Generic risk assessments for activities can be found in the download section at the bottom of this page.

For details and bookings on Highland Council risk assessment courses please contact THC.

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EVOLVE is a web based system that Highland Council and High Life Highland staff use to plan and record educational excursions. Every establishment has access to EVOLVE.

Staff that take young people on educational excursions have an account within EVOLVE (usernames and password are issued by their establishment) so they can access relevant guidance and supporting information in order to plan and record the proposed excursion. Every recorded excursion must be approved by the head of the establishment e.g. the Head Teacher in a School. Additional approval from the Local Authority is required for adventurous activity excursions, trips overseas and pupil exchange trips.

For EVOLVE administrative questions please contact:  [email protected]

Questions relating to excursion policy and guidance should be addressed to [email protected]

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