Leisure and Activities


The Enjoyment and Achievement Standard


This chapter provides general guidance on planning activities, including outdoor activities.

NOTE: The term 'Group Leader' is used throughout, it means the member of staff with overall responsibility for the activity.


Health and safety: advice for schools (Department for Education)


  1. Pre-Activity Planning and Authorisation
  2. Insurance
  3. Financial Arrangements and Meals
  4. Transport Arrangements
  5. Prepare Children
  6. Adventurous Activities
  7. Accommodation
  8. Sleeping Arrangements
  9. Absence Whilst on an Activity
  10. Guidance Regarding Risk Assessments

1. Pre-Activity Planning and Authorisation

As soon as it is known an activity or series of activities are likely or necessary, the Manager must be consulted and should oversee and approve all arrangements or delegate another person to act on the Manager's behalf. All arrangements must be recorded and signed off by the Home's Manager or delegate.

If only one member of staff is taking part, it is always assumed that person is in charge or responsible for the activity. Where more than one staff are taking part, one person must be designated Group Leader (or person in charge) and other staff should be given other responsibilities/roles as necessary. These other responsibilities must be overseen by the Group Leader and approved by the Manager.

The Group Leader may complete a Risk Assessment, see Section 10, Guidance Regarding Risk Assessments.

The Group Leader must prepare and produce a route, timetable or schedule for the activity, including dates, times of travel, vehicle(s) to be used, the location of planned breaks, places/locations to be visited and people to be visited.

The Group Leader must identify the children who will be taking part in the activity and consider what arrangements or plans must be made, taking account of:

  1. Care Plan, Placement Plan or other relevant plans;
  2. Recent/relevant events/incidents;
  3. Group dynamics, staff/child relationships;
  4. Child Protection Issues;
  5. Violent or other offending behaviour;
  6. The healthcare or mental health needs of the children;
  7. Level associated with drug/alcohol misuse;
  8. Level of disability and associated special needs.

A list of staff or other responsible adults who are likely to take part must be drawn up. At least one member of staff should be known to the child(ren) taking part and there must be one member of staff from each gender for mixed groups. Where this is not possible the Manager must approve the alternative arrangements, ensuring that the best interests of the child are accounted for; in these circumstances the staff/adults taking responsibility for the child must be provided with relevant information about the child to enable the activity to be undertaken safely.

The Group Leader must ensure the child/staff ratio's are adequate to meet the needs of the children and the risks posed. For example, where there is a risk of violence, hazardous activities are undertaken or remote locations are used.

Where there is a risk of confrontational or violent behaviour, the Group Leader/Manager must ensure that staff undertaking the activity are suitably trained and are familiar with procedures and guidelines contained in this manual relating to Behaviour Management, Incidents and the use of Physical Intervention.

The Group Leader must ensure that parent(s) have been consulted/informed and consents obtained.

All staff must carry ID cards.

2. Insurance

Adequate Public Liability Insurance must be obtained, usually already in place - consult the Manager.

Normally, children's holidays are insured fully under the company insurance policy for any holiday within the United Kingdom. Also any resort or destination will be approached to confirm they too have Public Liability Insurance cover.

Holidays outside of the United Kingdom or hazardous activities may require additional insurance. In these circumstances, the Group Leader should consult the Manager. When using public facilities e.g. leisure centre or hazardous activities staff should ask to see a valid copy of the current insurance certificate and record any findings on the relevant Activity Risk Assessment.

3. Financial Arrangements and Meals

The Group Leader must decide what financial arrangements are necessary, and agree them with the Manager. The Manager must decide how finances will be recorded. Any receipts should be kept.

The Group Leader must ensure that adequate arrangements are made for meals, breaks; taking account of the dietary, healthcare and cultural needs/choices of the children and staff.

4. Transport Arrangements

For detailed procedures, see Transporting Children Procedure.

5. Prepare Children

As soon as practicable before the activity is due to start, the children should be notified of the following; and this must be recorded.

  1. The consultation and involvement of the children in the planning;
  2. An explanation of the proposed activity, including its aims and objectives;
  3. Expectations about their behaviour and the implications of poor behaviour;
  4. Appropriate and inappropriate personal contact including sexual activity;
  5. Emergency procedures and safety precautions;
  6. Rendezvous procedures;
  7. Dangers e.g. coastal visits, mountain walking;
  8. What clothing they will require.

6. Adventurous Activities

If an activity holiday is proposed, the name of organisation, activities involved type of accommodation, address and phone number of organisation should be obtained.

There are a number of checks which must be made on activity holidays.

These must be undertaken by the Group Leader unless the holiday has been arranged by the child's school, the school should be asked to confirm that these checks have been made and that sufficient staff or subcontracted staff will be present to supervise the children.

6.1 Organisations registered with the Adventure Activity Licensing Authority

The Group Leader should confirm that the organisation is licensed with the Adventure Activity Licensing Authority. The licence registers the organisation for sports in 4 categories (caving, trekking, mountaineering, water sports) and the conditions in which it is licensed to provide them. The social worker/Group Leader should look for:

  • Licence number. This will be a double number e.g. L1234/R5678;
  • You should verify the licence by ringing the Licensing Authority (see link above);
  • What sports and conditions it is licensed for.

The licence is an indication of the standard of health and safety the organisation achieves. It also indicates that police checks and references have been taken up for staff.

6.2 Organisations not registered with the Adventure Activity Licensing Authority

Some activities, which contain an element of risk fall below or outside of the licensing level and requirements. For organisations not licensed with the Adventure Activity Licensing Authority, the following checks should be carried out:

Ask for the following:

  • A list of staff and their qualifications for the activities offered;
  • Whether all staff and volunteers hold relevant police/Disclosure and Barring Service checks;
  • Whether references are taken up on all staff and volunteers;
  • Whether the organisation undertakes formal risk assessments on the activities; ask to be sent copy/copies of the risk assessment(s). These should identify risks as well as measures and procedures by which the risks are controlled.

7. Accommodation

7.1. Accommodation (Indoors)

  1. The immediate accommodation area should be exclusively for the group's use;
  2. There should be heating and appropriate ventilation;
  3. The accommodation must be safe i.e. locks on doors;
  4. The accommodation must have a fire alarm;
  5. The whole group must be made aware of the layout of the accommodation;
  6. There must be adequate space for storing clothing;
  7. There must be adequate lighting (take a torch);
  8. There should be recreational accommodation/facilities wherever possible.

7.2. Accommodation (Outdoors)

The above should be taken into consideration. For camping, there are numerous additional considerations to be taken into account, e.g. safety issues, security, cooking safety, fire. All concerns should be part of the risk assessment.

8. Sleeping Arrangements

Wherever possible, there should be separate male and female sleeping/bathroom facilities for children and staff. If this is not possible, a rota system must be implemented.

Wherever possible, staff should supervise the children at night (and remain in gender specific rooms).

A rota should be devised to enable the maximum supervision possible. The on call person should not retire until the children have been settled for one hour.

Individual/group needs must be taken into consideration at night e.g. a child may prefer not to sleep in a dormitory setting. Are there any child protection issues? Sleeping arrangements must reflect the fact that staff have considered the individual needs of and associated risks to children on the activity. Sleeping arrangements must be detailed in the plan and approved by the Manager.

Security arrangements must be implemented at night.

9. Absence Whilst on an Activity

If a child becomes Absent Without Consent or Absconded whilst on an activity it will be necessary to follow the procedures set out in Absent/Missing Children Procedure.

10. Guidance Regarding Risk Assessments

Home's Managers must ensure that any activities or leisure pursuits in which children participate are, so far as reasonably practicable, free from avoidable risks and, on a day to day basis, staff should take reasonable precautions and make informed judgements about when to allow Children to participate in an activity. Excessive caution is unnecessary and children should be provided with the opportunity to take risks proportionate to their age, level of understanding and in the light of assessments, historical knowledge and plans/strategies that are in place e.g. where the behaviour or choices that have already been made by a child are poor or have placed them or others at risk, caused injury, harm or damage to property, staff must take this into consideration when planning activities.

It is not necessary to undertake a separate risk assessment for each activity/trip or for trips/activities which clearly pose a low risk to the child(ren) e.g. outings to the pictures, local baths/parks; in such circumstances, staff should use their previous knowledge of the activity and of the child(ren).

Where a range or series of activities may be undertaken (the transporting of children to and from school, a series of supervised contacts, the undertaking of routine activities), the Manager may approve a Risk Assessment and associated arrangements such as staffing levels for a period; and then set a date for the review of the assessment/arrangements.

The Manager or person delegated to oversee the activity must approve a completed a risk assessment in advance.

A risk assessment for a visit need not be complex but it should be comprehensive. It does not generally require technical formulae or professional health and safety expertise, but specialised information for some visits may be necessary and Managers must ensure that the person assessing is competent to do so.

A formal assessment of the risks that might be met on an activity should have the aim of preventing the risks or reducing them. Children must not be placed in situations which expose them to an unacceptable level of risk. Safety and protection of all concerned must always be the prime consideration. If the risks cannot be contained or managed, the activity must not take place.

The risk assessment should be based on the following considerations:

  1. Care Plan, Placement Plan or other relevant plans;
  2. Recent/relevant events/incidents;
  3. Group dynamics, staff/child relationships;
  4. Child Protection Issues;
  5. Violent or other offending behaviour;
  6. The healthcare or mental health needs of the children;
  7. Level associated with drug/alcohol misuse;
  8. Level of disability and associated special needs;
  9. What are the hazards?
  10. Whom might they affect?
  11. What safety measures need to be in place to reduce the risk to an acceptable level?
  12. Are safety measures in place?
  13. What steps will be taken in an emergency?

In undertaking the risk assessment, all staff taking part and children who are capable of making informed decisions should be consulted and a record the risks should be made and seen/approved by the Manager.

Frequent activities/visits to local venues such as swimming baths or where a child is transported to and from school may not need a risk assessment for each trip; but the Manager must ensure that a risk assessment is completed for the series/range of activities/visits; and a date set for the review of the risk assessment.

Alternatively, a risk assessment which has been agreed for a series or range of activities/visits must be reviewed immediately after any information comes to light or any event/incident which compromises the safety of the children/staffs. In such circumstances, the activities/visits must be suspended until a review has taken place and the Manager is satisfied that a suitable new risk assessment has been completed.

The staff member should take the following factors into consideration when assessing the risks:

  1. The type of visit/activity and the level at which it is being undertaken;
  2. The location, routes and modes of transport;
  3. The competence, experience and qualifications of the staff;
  4. Ratios of children to staff;
  5. The group members' age competence, fitness, and temperament, and the suitability of the activity;
  6. The healthcare needs of the children;
  7. The quality and suitability of available equipment;
  8. Seasonal conditions, weather and timing;
  9. Emergency procedures;
  10. The need to monitor risks throughout the activity;
  11. The children's backgrounds i.e. offending, health, absconding, child protection, drugs.

When approving the risk assessment and subsequent plan for the activity, the Manager should determine what latitude staff have to change the plan, the need for a contingency plan, an 'on call' or backup procedure to provide support, advice or direction to the staff once the activity/trip has started.