Response to Ofsted Chief Inspector's article on the safety culture in schools

The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel welcomes Ms Spielman’s views on the safety culture in schools - Article here - and hopes that this results in Ofsted encouraging schools to continue to provide well managed challenging outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities to children and young people.

Children and young people must be well prepared to rise to the challenges which they will face as adults, and must have the skills, grit and resilience in order to achieve this.

In 2008 Ofsted evidence showed that "When planned and implemented well, learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to raising standards and improving pupils' personal, social and emotional development." The benefits of well managed outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities outweigh the risks involved, or the risks of not taking part.

The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel exists to ensure the effective leadership and management of high quality outdoor education, offsite visits and adventurous activities, and publishes “National Guidance for the Management of outdoor learning, off-site visits and learning outside the classroom” to facilitate this.

National Guidance, coupled with access to an adviser and training ensures that schools, head teachers and visit leaders have access to a wealth of current practice and specialist advice. It sets out a proportional and balanced approach to managing opportunities, which has regard to the requirements of legislation, whilst ensuring provision of appropriately managed challenging activities.

We support the Health and Safety Executive’s stance that the focus should be on how the real risks arising from such visits are managed and not on paperwork, and that there is a need for a proportionate and sensible approach for planning and organising off-site activities.

The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel works through its members with schools, head teachers and visit leaders to ensure that visits are proportionally planned, contain appropriate challenge, and have due regard to real risks, so that opportunities are available to broaden and enrich young minds.

We also welcome the opportunity to work with Ofsted and its inspectorate team in ensuring every school in England has a comprehensive programme of well-managed, high quality outdoor education, offsite visits and adventurous activities for all their pupils. A new Ofsted evidence report based on feedback from inspections and good practice would support this.

Amanda Spielman

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