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Many schools are now using licensed facilities as offered by commercial firms, charitable organisations or local authorities. A licence means that the Licensing Authority has inspected the provider, and is satisfied with their management of safety of adventure activities, as defined on the face of the licence. Nevertheless, a significant number of schools continue to organise and lead their own core adventure activities. Under current legislation these are not subject to national inspection and licensing.

This is because schools are not required to hold a licence when making provision to their own pupils. School-led adventure activities are subject to the management and approval of the education employer under health and safety law. This is because the employer must, in law, ensure the health and safety of both pupils and staff.

The local education authority LEA has this responsibility for community and voluntary-controlled schools. The governing body is the employer in foundation and voluntary aided schools. The proprietor is the employer in independent schools. Health and Safety: Responsibilities and Powers explains the legal framework for each type of school. It aims to help its members match the safety standards required of licence-holders by the AALA.


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A key role of the EVC is to ensure that activities are supervised by people of suitable competence. LEA guidance may prescribe the levels of competence required. In leading adventure activities, teachers or other school staff will have the great advantage of knowing their pupils well. But, unlike centre instructors, they may not regularly instruct an activity nor be as familiar with the activity site. This could affect their awareness of specific risks. For some activities, teachers may need to hold a national governing body leader or instructor qualification. But paper qualifications will need to be supplemented by the verification of other qualities such as maturity, general supervision skills, ability to supervise different types of group, relevant experience.

For other activities, teachers may have their competence ratified in-house by a suitably competent person, if their employer considers that appropriate. The LEA, as employer, should set the standards required of leaders and supervisors for specific visits and activities.

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For adventure activities the outdoor education adviser will be able to consider the following evidence of competence:. Some of these may change over time. NVQs are work-related, competence-based qualifications that reflect the skills and knowledge required to do a job effectively.

NVQs represent national standards that are recognised by employers throughout England. The Level 2 Activity Leadership NVQ is intended for people who are supervised by someone qualified to lead groups on their own, and the Level 3 Outdoor Education, Development Training and Recreation NVQ is for people who can safely run activities solo and unsupervised.

This is of particular relevance to teachers planning to lead or supervise curricular visits within their subjects, including fieldwork and adventurous activities. It is exam-based and teachers can combine it with practical experience. In-house validations are approval systems that usually have local rather than national relevance.

They are for restricted stated environments; they are for employees of the operating organisation e.

Adventure Tourism and Outdoor Activities Management

The body responsible for granting the validation would normally be the LEA, commercial company or other employer, or, in the case of an independent school, the ISAAA. To ensure the robustness of in-house leader validation arrangements for adventure activities particularly those in category C below it is vital that these are monitored by a suitably qualified technical adviser.

Site-specific assessment refers to a situation in which an individual is trained to cope with the particular demands of a named location or activity. This assessment will take place on location and will generally be in the charge of a suitable technical adviser for the activity. For activities that would be licensable if not school-led see Guidance to the Licensing Authority on the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations which includes the text of the regulations. For activities not in-scope such as a water-margin studies visit , a technical adviser would be a highly experienced practitioner in the field with knowledge of the venues, varying local environments and their likely effect upon the pupil groups.

For visits or activities such as a walk in the park a site specific induction, rather than a formal assessment, might be sufficient so long as supervisory competence in general had been satisfactorily assessed, perhaps by the EVC or other senior member of school staff.

I Signed Up For an Outdoor Adventure—How Safe Will It Be?

This assessment might include the ability to hold the attention of a group during the visit and to brief pupils in a range of circumstances. Competence in adventure activities derives from a balance of personal experience trial and error and learning from errors and related training. Technical competence can be attained through formal training.

Outdoor safety leader, wilderness risk management scenario

But safety judgements are most soundly based on enlightened experience, which takes time to accumulate. Proof must therefore exist of suitable and sufficient experience in the activity. This will normally be verified by the outdoor education adviser, typically with the help of the technical adviser.

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Technical advisers have a high level of competence in a particular activity. They will be able to make judgements about the technical and supervisory competence of others within their area of expertise in relation to a particular pupil group. Typically they will have a record as a trainer and assessor of the activity. For adventure activities that would be licensable if they were not school-led , technical advisers should be qualified to the level recognised as satisfactory by the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority See Guidance to the Licensing Authority on the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations The technical adviser will usually hold the relevant NGB Award where it exists.

But it might also be possible to become a technical adviser on the basis of experience alone. For example, a senior teacher with extensive experience of running geography field studies could have the needed expertise to advise on a category A field visit see below led by a less experienced teacher. In general, a technical adviser should give advice only on activities within their own level of competence. Otherwise he or she should obtain the view of a more specifically competent technical adviser.

An employer who is unsure about assessing the competence of an individual to lead a particular activity should seek the guidance of a technical adviser. Outdoor education advisers and EVCs may find it useful to consider categories of activities, when determining an appropriate course of action in respect of activities presenting different levels of potential risk. The following categorisation may prove useful.

Reduce the probability and severity of accidents

However, accidents can happen in any activity regardless of whether it is classified as high or low risk. It is important to be aware that low risk does not mean no risk. These comprise activities that present no significant risks. They should be supervised by a teacher who has been assessed as competent by the LEA or EVC, as appropriate, to lead this category of educational visit.


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  • Some LEAs classify these as activities needing level 1 supervisory skills. Examples might include:. Category B These comprise some higher-risk or higher profile activities. Examples of activities might include:. Guidance on the activities to be included in category B may be available from the LEA. Where an EVC validates colleagues for leadership of category B activities, he or she should be experienced in leading the activity or should seek the advice of a suitably qualified technical adviser. He or she should also be aware of the responsibilities that are integral to such leadership.

    Some LEAs classify these as requiring level 2 supervisory skills. Note: Several of the school-visit incidents in recent years have happened on visits that might be deemed category B or even category A. This is the most demanding category.

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    It includes all those activities that, if not school-led, would be in scope of the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations It also includes activities that fall outside the scope of licensing, or are less commonly pursued by pupil groups, such as motor sports, whose safe supervision requires that the leader should normally complete some prior test of his or her specific competence. Such testing might include a recognised course of training, the recorded accumulation of relevant experience, or an assessment of competence by an appropriate body. In assessing the appropriate category in which to place an activity, the EVC and outdoor education adviser should take account of the environment in which the activity will take place.