Outdoor Education news
Service Level Agreement for Outdoor Education, PE and DofE
As you will be very aware, we’ve just spent the last term going through the process of signing schools up to the new SLA for Outdoor Education, PE and DofE. The great news is that, out of the 480 or so schools in Hampshire, 468 have signed in. Of the 14 that haven’t as yet, only two have definitely said ‘No, we don’t want the SLA”. The other 12 have not yet formally told us one way of the other, so on the assumption that it may be the case that you are one of these 12 schools, and the process has somehow simply passed you by, do get in touch with us – as of September 1st your access to EVOLVE will have been disabled, and your access to the service for long term advice, guidance and lower cost training will also cease. You’ll be hearing from us one last time anyway, but it’s not too late to sign up – just give us a call!
For everyone else, welcome to the newish world of SLAs. You won’t find any change to the immediate day-to-day support and advice available from the office, but over time you will find new initiatives and projects becoming available to you. This autumn we’re starting with some Outdoor Education briefings - aimed at EVCs, across the county. To see the dates and book a place click on this Learning Zone link - or contact the office. There is also information in a school communication, sent the first week of the Autumn term.
In the meantime, it’s business as normal, and don’t hesitate to contact us by e-mail or phone about any aspect of your outdoor, PE or DofE work.
Last year is quite a year to live up to!
In the last academic year, 2013–14, we approved 377,740 children and young people taking part in outdoor education visits. This is on top of another 600,000 children taking part in lower risk visits for which approval from us is not required. The visits that come to us range from challenging treks to Africa and India, to WWII evacuation days at Botley station.
As well as planning your visits and trips carefully, via EVOLVE, and managing them successfully on the day, please do consider sending us any photos of your day and activities. We’re always on the look out for new images to illustrate the vast range of visits undertaken by Hampshire, Southampton, Portsmouth and West Berkshire schools, and it’s a great way to share and celebrate your experiences with others. Just remember that photos must have parental consent for images invoked, as per the normal Off site Visits medical and consent form.
We’ve also had a few queries about Risk assessments recently. The standard, generic, Off site RA form is available as a WORD template in the resources section of EVOLVE (under forms) and on our general website. It should be used for any visit – whether very local and low key, or high profile and adventurous. If you need advice, please call the office and if you attend one of our Outdoor Leader courses, you’ll have an opportunity to work with and complete the template. All dates for Outdoor Leader courses are available on the Training section of our web site, on Evolve and on the Learning Zone or do call us about be-spoke dates for whole school training.
We’ve recently been made aware of proposed new legislation enacted by the South African Government that will significantly impact on schools undertaking visits to the country after October 1 2014. If you are planning visits to South Africa after that date, please read the information below. You will also need to speak to your tour operator about the issues raised here.
From 1 October 2014, children travelling in and out of South Africa will be required to carry an unabridged birth certificate as well as a valid passport, under new regulations aimed at improving the safety of children.
The regulations came into effect at the end of May, but the Department of Home Affairs has delayed their implementation until 1 October, to make allowance for families who have already made plans for the upcoming school holidays.
The rules are aimed at improving the safety of children, including "their protection from child trafficking, abduction and kidnapping". The department has urged citizens and foreign nationals to apply for unabridged birth certificates, which reflect the particulars of both parents, in good time in order to avoid possible delays to their travel plans. It can take up to six to eight weeks for an unabridged birth certificate application to be processed.
Quick guide to the new requirements:
• When leaving South Africa with children, parents or guardians must be able to produce unabridged birth certificates reflecting the details of both parents, as well as a valid passport for each child.
• This requirement applies even when both parents are travelling with their children.
• It applies to foreigners and South Africans alike.
• If children are travelling with a guardian, this adult is required to produce affidavits from both parents giving permission for the children to travel. They will also need copies of the passports of the parents, as well as the contact details of the parents.
If children are travelling with only one parent, they must produce an unabridged birth certificate as well as:
• a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the parent or legal guardian of the child;
• an affidavit from the other parent granting permission for the child to leave the country;
• a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child; and
• if applicable, the death certificate of the other parent registered on the birth certificate.
When a child is travelling as an unaccompanied minor, he or she must be able to produce:
• proof of consent (a letter or affidavit) from both his or her parents or legal guardians to travel in or out of the country; and
• a letter from the person who will receive the child in South Africa, including that person's full contact details and a copy of their passport or ID book. The letter must also include details about where the child will be staying, and full contact details of both parents or legal guardians.
Winnall Moors Nature Reserve.
This small reserve in the centre of Winchester is a great site for a school visits, offering all sorts of curriculum opportunities and not just in the obvious areas of science and the environment. Many schools do make use of it, but I’ve had a number of instances recently where the reserve manager has contacted me to say that schools are turning up with no prior warning or booking in place. Understandably, given the sensitive nature of the site, the reserve managers (The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust) are keen to ensure that there is sustainable use of the site and to ensure this they do require school groups to make a formal booking to visit the reserve. If this doesn’t happen, then you risk being turned away when you arrive, especially if there are other schools already on site.
To make a booking, or to find out more about the opportunities offered at the reserve, contact Rachel Remnant, the Reserve Officer on 01962 828629. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Making EVOLVE smoother
As always, the past 6 weeks has seen the intensity of EVOLVE use increase dramatically. Every day, many new forms arrive with us for checking. And, as always, there are some things that mean we can’t turn around these forms as quickly as we would like. In general, this is because of simple things missing from the form, which you can help us with. So, the TOP FIVE tips for making sure your visit form gets processed quickly are:
Make sure your staffing meets appropriate ratios for the visit.. 12:1 for all Open Country visits, residentials, visits abroad, etc.. Lower ratios for some other visits. If you’re unsure, check the Off site Regs and Guidance document (The ‘Green’ Book), page 73
Ensure you have uploaded a Programme or timetable for activities. If you don’t yet have a programme, then list all activities to be done, or add your letter to parents which outlines what is being done during the visit.
Ensure you have two Base Emergency Contact names, with appropriate telephone numbers, and make sure that neither of these people are actually on the visit itself!. For Day Visits, one of these can be the school number, but for Residential Visits, or day visits that operate beyond the school day, the two numbers must not include the School number (that’s at the top of the form anyway!). I haven’t yet come across a teacher who wishes to sleep overnight at school just in case the visit leader or we needs to call at 2.00am in the morning because of an incident….
Ensure that if you are both the EVC and the Head Teacher (and possibly even the visit leader), that you log on to EVOLVE with each ‘different hat’ on and submit/approve for each level. Forms that should come to us often get stuck at Head level because the Head has submitted at the EVC level, but to themselves, and they think that having done it once it automatically goes to us. That’s not the case – the Head must ‘approve’ the form as Head…
Get forms to us in enough time to carry out checks and contact you if required. Sending us a form on Sunday evening for a visit going Monday is not helpful I’m afraid. For most visits we can turn things around with a week or two of notice, but for complex visits it may take a lot longer. At this time of year the sheer number of visit forms simply takes time. Please get forms to us 8 weeks prior to a visit if possible. If a short notice opportunity arises, that’s no problem – just call and let us know to expect the form.
The more you can fully complete the forms, the less we have to come back to you for clarifications or additional information, and the quicker and smoother we can make the process. Happy EVOLVING
Inclusion for All
A significant proportion of all the phone calls I get from heads and schools each week relate to issues of inclusion. Typically, these will be in the context of a large residential week to an outdoor centre and involve a child or children with specific special needs, disabilities or behaviours related to a medical condition. Schools are especially nervous about how to manage aspects of behaviour in situations where there are no normal boundaries, the context is novel for all involved, and there is the presence of real and significant hazards (some outdoor centres overlook cliffs, coastlines, cover large areas, are adjacent to vast areas of woodlands or moorlands, etc).
The starting point, of course, is that all our schools are indeed ‘inclusive’ establishments – we want to include all children in the educational offer. Beyond that, the Equalities Act 2010 actually now makes it illegal to treat any child with a special need different from others. That means that if you have chosen to go to a particular centre to undertake a specific set of activities, we have to do our best to ensure all children participate. Invariably, as far as children with such needs are concerned, you will find most centres are now more than capable of offering the activities, or adaptations to the activities, to ensure inclusion. The new Hampshire centre at Runways End, for example, was purpose built to ensure full accessibility to all activities, accommodation, etc. Talk to your chosen provider – explain at an early stage what is required, and they should work with you to facilitate that.
If they can’t, then ideally you need to look for an alternative provider. We can put you in touch with schools who have experience of many outdoor centres, and will be able to offer insight into which ones are good in this respect. Equally, we are able to offer some suggestions of such providers.
There is often some additional cost involved in meeting the needs of children who require more inclusive facilities – additional staffing, 1:1 nigh time supervision, and so on. If the school is faced with such costs I’m afraid you will have to bear them – the law doesn’t allow you to pass on these costs to parents or carers of the child, so the school needs to absorb the costs if you go ahead. Again, this needs to be identified at the very early planning stage so that if cost is a potential issue it is dealt with by, for example, opting for an alternative provider, or planning alternative provision which has lower inherent costs. It would be too late, two weeks before the annual visit to 'centre X' to suddenly discover that they can’t cope with the needs of a specific child without big additional expense.
Schools often look to additional adult support from Mum, Dad or relatives of the family. Again, you can’t ‘require’ parents to attend to look after their child, and even if parents are happy to be involved, they sometimes have concerns that by being there they will dilute the ‘residential’ experience for their son/daughter. However, a very early conversation with them can often lead to a good outcome – maybe Mum comes down and stays locally or onsite so she is available at nigh time, but is not around during the day. In some circumstances, Mum or Dad are happy to drive the youngster down daily just for the activities, as they have concerns about the ability of their child to manage the night times. There are many options which can be explored, but the key is to have the conversation right at the start of the planning process, maybe even before the centre is chosen.
Where ‘behaviour’ is not the result of an identified medical or physical condition, the 2010 Act does not apply. If poor behaviour is attributable to social or parental situations, the school can treat the youngster within the guidelines of normal school behaviour policies. That means that normal sanctions and actions apply, and if a school chooses not to take a child in such circumstances the law does not have relevance. Beware however – just because a child doesn’t have, for example a Statement of education need, doesn’t mean they fall outside the Act. In any circumstance where you are actively considering whether to include a child on an educational visit, our advice is to ensure you document your decision making process, so that in the rare instances where we do end up in an Equalities Tribunal, we and you are able to evidence how you reached your decision. To help with this process, we do have a Behaviour Risk Template form which you can use to carry out this process – it leads you through documentation of the problems/issues, the adaptations or actions taken in school, and the options for extending this to an outdoor and offsite context, leaving you with a clear summary of what is possible. There are two versions – a blank template and a filled in copy to give an idea of how to complete the form. Both can be found in the Resources / Forms section of EVOLVE – www.hampshireoutdoors.com . I’m also more than happy to come into school to discuss any concerns with school staff and, if necessary, to support you in any meetings with parents.
Ultimately, there are three principles underpinning your final decisions around inclusion:
Can we reasonably ensure the safety of the individual young person
Can we reasonably ensure the safety of the rest of the group and the staff team
Can we reasonably ensure the overall integrity and purpose of the activities and the visit.
In the vast majority of situations, following simple pathways to those set out above means the answer to all three is ‘Yes’. Where there is uncertainty though, the issues need to be addressed, and sooner rather than later in the planning of a visit.
If you need any advice, support or help at all in this area, do get in touch.
Outdoor Education, PE & DofE Service Day Celebrations
What a success!
All members of the Outdoor Education, PE & DofE Service staff were involved in the planning and delivery of the Friday 25th April 2014 Service Day. We kicked off with John Clarke, Deputy Director of Children's Services, Education and Inclusion who spoke about his challenging experiences of the Mountain Marathon (MMO) and the value of getting outside of the classroom. We were then graced by the presence of Olympic World Record Holder and Gold Medallist Dani King! In an interview session style Dani spoke about her road to London 2012, from her humble beginnings at Hamble Community Sports College. The wide-eyed delegates were then able to ask questions, which were heavily along the lines of engagement, resilience and what worked for Dani. Head of Service, Stuart Nundy, then followed this up with an interactive session to show the vast array of ways in which our Service provides value and variety to improve learning for young people - it counts!
Delegates were then off to their first of three practical workshops, from Numeracy in the Outdoors to Indoor Caving and the theory of Kite Flying! We didn't do the best of jobs booking good weather, but that didn't put anyone off and delegates left full of ideas!
EVOLVE. A few tips …
Along with the weather, the number of forms appearing on EVOLVE for approval is also hotting up. At this time of year we can be receiving between 20 and 30 new forms every day. Each form needs to be checked so we can help ensure you have everything in place to support you in providing safe and successful outdoor visits and activities. These checks do take time, and if we have to get back to you to request more information or to check something it can add days to the process. However, there are a few simple things you can do to help us get approvals done quickly:
Do make sure you have ticked the right button on Page Two of the form, relating to the type of visit. All adventure activities, residential visits, visits abroad and Open Country visits must be ticked as ‘yes’, to ensure they come to us for approval. The latter category includes all field study visits to locations involving rivers, coasts, canals, etc.
Make sure your ratios of staff to children meet the requirements in the Off Site Visits guidance – the Green Book. Normally 12:1 for Open Country, residential visits, visits abroad, etc
Where it is required, check and ensure you have staff with Outdoor Leader (Open Country) certificates in place . Note that having at least one OL certificated member of staff is recommended as best practice on all outdoor visits, not just those where it is required.
If your own staff are leading technical activities (eg Mountain biking), they must be appropriately qualified. Check the Safety in Adventure Activities regs – the Pink Book, and ensure staff do have the right qualifications – in this case Mountain Bike Instructor Level 1 or 2
Do make sure you have the correct ‘Emergency or Base contact’ names and numbers in place. This is not the phone number of the visit leader, but the two people back at home who are there to support in the event of an issue or incident. There should be both a land line and a mobile number.
Do ensure you have uploaded a programme, timetable, itinerary, for the visit, with as much detail as possible – dates, days, times, etc. Some big outdoor centres, (eg PGL, Kingswood) are still very slow getting final programmes to schools. Nag them if you can, but in the meantime, upload a draft list to give us an idea, and then put the final programme up as soon as it arrives. In general, we cannot approve any visit until a specific programme is in place.
Upload any letters to parents, info you have received from centres/providers, lists of children, etc. It’s all useful in painting a comprehensive picture of the visit, and should it be required to support you during an incident, we and other will have full access to everything we need related to the visit.
If you haven’t done a pre –visit, explain why on the form, via the Notes facility at the bottom.
Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your form! Ideally, we need 8 weeks notification of all visits. Bigger and more technically advanced visits to other parts of the world, especially Africa, Asia and South America, should be notified to us at least a year or more in advance, although the form doesn’t need to be actually submitted that early. You can start creating a form from the minute you know a visit is being planned. You can save it and keep adding information as you get it, but it means we can see it if we need to from an early stage.
Submissions the day before a visit is due to go may not get approval – with consequences for Insurance provision.
The very old paper approval forms (HP1 Forms) are no longer used, and haven’t been since late 2011– please don’t send them to us – you’ll just get them back, adding to the time to gain approval
If, at any stage, you have a problem, queries, need advice, etc – then do call us – 01962 876218
Happy Evolving …..