Code of Practice

The Centre will ensure the highest possible quality of provision.

Course Programmes

Course programmes offered are designed to meet the specific demands of visiting groups, for example:
-specified National Curriculum Programmes of Study (POS) and DfES strategies;
-specific examination syllabus requirements;
-broader educational aims, including personal, social, spiritual, moral, cultural and environmental education.

Course programmes will make provision for equality of opportunity for all pupils.


Objectives for all courses will be defined clearly in advance of the course, indicating the;
-areas of knowledge and understanding of specific topics to be developed from work at the Centre and in the field;
-skills to be involved in: the preparation for outdoor and environmental activities, and the collection, interpretation and presentation of evidence acquired;
-environmental and other issues to be considered;
-learning outcomes to be achieved;
-contribution that outdoor and environmental activities can make to the development of personal, social, spiritual, moral, cultural and environmental education.
-links to other curriculum areas

Outdoor and Environmental Activities

Outdoor and Environmental activities will be prepared thoroughly by Centre teaching staff highlighting the:
-selection of sites and facilities available at the centre;
-introductory activities that can be carried out before arrival that will introduce course aims and objectives
-teaching and learning to be developed with indications of the standards to be attained;
-follow up activities that will consolidate the learning and allow the pupils to communicate what they have learnt in a variety of ways.
At the start of a course or activity the group will be given a briefing to introduce the course content and expectations to enable pupils to carry out their work;

Study Sites

Study sites will be selected on the basis of:

-appropriateness and accessibility for the age and ability of pupils and the size of the group;
-suitability for accomplishing the teaching and learning objectives previously specified;
-environmental impact
We will ensure that pupils understand that effective results achieved in enquiries at the Centre stem from the thoughtful selection of sites and the careful choice of investigative techniques.
All staff employed at the centre will have qualifications and/or experience appropriate for their post.

Staff employed in teaching or instruction will have appropriate experience and/ or qualifications for the activities they deliver, such as QTS, a degree in a relevant subject, National Governing Body qualifications or NVQ level 3 or above. There will be a training and induction programme for new teaching and instructional staff and ongoing training for all SHOC staff (training record card contained within personnel file).

Non-teaching staff are essential members of the Centre team and will also be appropriately experienced and trained.

Documentary evidence of all staff qualifications will be available for inspection on request.

We will ensure that the Centre is well equipped to carry out the range of activities programmed. The equipment will be well maintained and may include:

-a range of field study equipment such as measuring and recording devices (which will ensure users may observe and measure with the degree of accuracy commensurate with their ability);
-A range of outdoor adventurous equipment such as group development through problem solving equipment, mountain bikes and archery equipment.
-reference materials to enable users to investigate beyond their immediate fieldwork background;
-protective clothing, where required, for specific activities, such as mountain bike helmets and pads, arm bracers, finger tabs and chest guards for archery, wellington boots, waterproof clothing, disposable gloves and goggles.

The Centre will ensure that sufficient equipment is available to use for particular activities for the size of the group. All equipment will be regularly checked and maintained.

All checks will be documented. Damaged equipment will be replaced. Worn or outdated equipment will be assessed for their usability and either withdrawn or allocated to an appropriate use. A scheme for replacing equipment is in place and records for replacement kept.

Centre premises will include adequate provision for briefing and follow-up activities, together with toilet, cloakroom and drying facilities appropriate for the type of course. Residential groups will also be provided with suitable accommodation for sleeping, dining and relaxation.

The accommodation will be maintained to the highest possible standard and there will be a documented system for checking the maintenance of the premises.
We will require visiting staff to comply with safeguards designed to ensure quality courses. These will have been notified to visiting staff and discussed with them prior to the start of the course.

We will hold visiting staff responsible for ensuring that:
-their group will comply with the adult: pupil ratios recommended for the age and ability of the pupils, the type of course and the sites used according to DfES guidelines;
-all accompanying non-teaching adults are well briefed prior to the visit and are aware of their responsibilities during the visit;
-pupils are well briefed prior to the visit, including guidance on equipment and clothing requirements;
-they supply Centre staff with information on pupils’ ability levels, previous experience, particular physical, mental or sensory impairments, medical conditions and any other information that may help to ensure quality of provision prior to the start of the course.

We will ensure that, prior to the course at the centre, visiting staff understand and accept those responsibilities that fall on them as distinct from those which fall on Centre staff especially in respect for:
-being in ‘loco parentis’;
-providing tuition both in whole class situations and in situations when pupils are working in smaller groups in different locations;
-pupils and their activities during non-teaching times;
-premises and equipment;
-pupil behaviour both within the centre and in ‘the field’.

We have a clearly stated behaviour policy relating to all aspects of working in the field and in the centre premises and grounds. The policy indicates expectations on attitudes to work and acceptable behaviour in and out of the Centre, compliance with instructions, especially on safety and time deadlines. It sets out rewards and sanctions. It will be notified to, and agreed by, users in advance of their visit.

Non-compliance with the policy may result in a pupil being withdrawn from an activity, or in extreme situations returned to school or home.

Evaluation and Review

Evaluation and Review will form an important part of the Centre work. The Centre will:
-operate a self-review system for all courses, paying particular attention to pupil achievement;
-ensure that all visiting groups have opportunities to offer feedback on courses, services and facilities provided;
-have in place systems to record and analyse feedback and to maintain records of actions taken as a result and the effectiveness of such actions;
-operate a fully documented complaints procedure;
-review the quality of all courses, services and facilities at regular intervals, or immediately if circumstances demand, introducing amendments and improvements as necessary and sharing these with users.


We will ensure the safest standards of practice and provision.
The Centre has a written policy for the management of health and safety. The policy includes:
-responsibilities of Centre staff;
-risk assessments for all activities (see risk assessment file);
-arrangements and procedures for:
-fire safety and evacuation;
-accident and emergency procedures;
-first aid;
-premises, security and insurance;
-equipment and clothing (advice contained in information sent to visiting groups);
-Centre vehicles (risk assessment file)

Responsibilities of Centre Staff

We will ensure that all Centre staff are fully conversant with those parts of this code that are relevant to their areas of work, and their responsibility to work within its requirements.

The Centre will ensure that all the responsibilities identified in the Health and Safety Management Policy are carried out.

Risk Assessments (Risk Assessment File)

Hazards exist in all educational activities. The types of hazard present in outdoor and environmental education mean that the degree of risk is heightened in comparison with many classroom activities.

For the purpose of this section, a hazard is defined as something that has the potential to cause harm or injury, and a risk is the likelihood of harm or injury resulting from a hazard. In order to minimise risk, the Centre has carried out risk assessments for all activities and areas of working, including all aspects of outdoor and environmental activities, classroom, domestic, administration, and maintenance areas, transport, plant, machinery and security.

Hazards fall into three broad divisions:
-hazards resulting from physical factors;
-hazards resulting from the nature of the activities;
-hazards resulting from the nature of the group.

The Centre will assess the particular hazards associated with its operation and will identify in the Health and Safety Management Policy through the risk assessment file appropriate risk minimisation measures, which will be communicated to pupils and adults in the classroom prior to excursions and reinforced in the field.

In order to minimise the risks associated with physical factors providers will assess:
(a) hazards associated with the physical surroundings. These relate to the sites used and to the movement between sites. The Centre will have carried out risk assessments on the locations used and the routes between locations.

These will be documented fully along with the associated safety procedures.

This will be an integral part of all the work of the Centre staff. Visiting teachers will be briefed on all risks and safety procedures relating to the sites and routes to be used. They will also be expected to comply with procedures when working independently or with centre staff and to ensure that pupils also comply.

(b) hazards related to present and expected weather conditions. Centre staff will have alternative plans that might include the abandonment or modification of activities or withdrawal to the Centre indoor facilities to ensure the safety and wellbeing of pupils. Centre staff will recognise local weather patterns as they develop as part of their risk assessment of the area. The effects of severe weather conditions, such as heavy rain, wind chill, full sunshine and severe frost, will be taken into account;

(c) Biological hazards associated with particular sites. These include hazards such as bites and stings, and waterborne diseases. Centre staff will be aware of the symptoms and the recommended action. They will also ensure that school or college staff are aware of any symptoms that may become apparent after departure from the Centre, together with recommended action
In order to minimise the risks arising from the nature of the activity, providers will assess:

(a) hazards associated with outdoor and environmental activities. Some activities are more hazardous than others, but the risks involved in each activity will be assessed and documented and safety procedures put into practise. The degree of risk will relate to the nature of the activities and to the age, abilities, previous experience and behaviour of individuals and the group.

(b) hazards and the related risks associated with other activities that may include classroom based activities as well as recreational activities, catering and overnight arrangements.

In order to minimise risks arising from the nature of the group, providers will:

(a) prior to the start of a visit, require the school to have supplied information on:
-pupils’ medical conditions, medical regimes, allergies and any other health information which may be relevant, such as mobility, hearing or visual impairment;
-potential behavioural problems which may affect the safety of the individual or group;
-arrangements for contacting school or parents. Day and residential group leaders should have a group list with details of contact details for all pupils and adults. If a child needs to leave site, the Duty Officer must be informed and in turn must inform the Head of Centre at the earliest opportunity;
-parental permission where required for specific activities;
-dietary requirements in the case of residential visits.
Such information will be treated with respect, sensitivity and in confidence by the Centre staff.
(b) at the start of a visit, supply information to the visiting group on:
-fire and emergency evacuation procedures;
-security procedures;
-location of first aid equipment;
-expectations with regards to behaviour. For all outdoor and environmental activities, Centre staff will have determined what constitutes unacceptable behaviour in the context of the safety of the individual and the group. The Centre’s behaviour policy will make provision for the withdrawal of individuals or groups from activities on safety grounds wherever behaviour becomes unacceptable.
(c) at the start of each activity, ensure that Centre staff brief the visiting group on:
-the nature of the activity;
-the hazards associated with the activity and how they will be managed;
-the supervisory roles of the adults which have been agreed previously
(d) during the activity, ensure that the Centre staff and school/ college staff will:
-constantly monitor physical factors and the nature of both the activities and the group, and, if any source of risk affects the wellbeing of individuals or the group, modify or abandon the activity or withdraw to the Centre facilities. In the case of abandonment, contingency plans will be introduced.
-Have access to pupil lists with contact details and regularly monitor numbers and names of pupils present, especially at the start and end of activities, and at any changes of venue. Where any absences are discovered emergency procedures will be implemented immediately.
(e) at the end of each activity, ensure that Centre staff and school staff will:
-monitor the safe return of pupils, implementing emergency procedures, if necessary.

Arrangements and Procedures For:

Fire Safety and Evacuation

The Centre will ensure that it has adequate fire protection and escape routes that comply with the statutory requirements. Evacuation procedures will be explained to all participants as soon as possible upon arrival, and evacuation drills will be carried out without prior warning. Evacuation procedures will be posted in all rooms. Fire arrangements and alarms will be tested periodically.

The results of such tests will be logged.

We will ensure that the Centre holds a register of residential pupils and accompanying adults, and which other visitors are present through the visitors book at all times.

Accident and Emergency Procedures

The Centre holds written accident and emergency procedures, which are amended in the light of experience and reviewed on a regular basis. The procedures include the use of mobile telephones or radio, but will not be reliant upon them.

Dealing with missing groups of individuals

If a pupil is discovered to be missing from a group;
-Identify which pupil is missing
-Establish if anyone seen them leave the group
-Identify one adult to remain with the group either where they are or return to classroom whichever is felt to be most appropriate.
-Make an initial search in the immediate area
-Notify the Duty Officer of location with brief description of young person.
-A co-ordinated search will be made with all available members of Centre staff.
-If appropriate the Centre staff will contact the police/Exmoor search and rescue to establish a wider search.

Calling Assistance

When the visiting group is accompanied by a member of SHOC staff and assistance of any kind is required, the member of staff will use a two way radio or telephone, clearly stating who is required, what assistance is required and the location. If the member of staff is unable to radio/telephone for assistance the group leader/class teacher should take over this role. If the radio message is either not possible or successful, an accompanying adult should be sent to summon assistance.

If a residential group, not accompanied by a member of Centre staff, requires assistance they should inform the main office.

Evacuation strategies from field sites and from premises

-Site Evacuation

There are designated assembly point to be used in case of emergencies.
The Duty Officer will decide if an evacuation of the site is necessary and formulate a plan base on the information available. Centre staff will be used to inform each group of the plan and the evacuation point. Each leader will be instructed to collect their group and check all are present, then take them to the designated assembly point and re-check their group by name. They should then wait for further instructions from the Duty Officer.

-Evacuation of Buildings

Day visiting groups will be informed of the location of fire escape routes out of buildings and the location of the assembly points by Centre staff. In case of an evacuation it is the responsibility of the class teacher to check that all pupils are present. Centre staff will ensure the building is clear before rejoining their group. In the case of residential visitors, the group leader should follow the evacuation plan as identified by the duty officer.

Fatalities and serious incidents

In case of a fatality or serious incident the Duty Officer, having first alerted the emergency services, should inform the Head of Centre immediately. The Head of Centre will then liaise with Group Leader and in form the Head Teacher, ensuring at all times that LEA policy is adhered to. All communication must be through the LEA, no comment should be given to media or other external agencies by Centre staff.

Dealing with emergency services

The Duty Officer should be the only point of contact with the emergency services to ensure the accuracy and continuity of communication.

Communicating with Centre and school or college

Communication with a school or college should initially be through the group leader. If this is not possible, the Duty Officer should make contact.


This will be organised through the visiting group leader or Head Teacher and be in line with the Critical Incident Recovery Plan of the LEA.

Dealing with the media

All contact with the media should be through the Centre Manager who will liase with the County Council LEA as appropriate.

All accidents, incidents and near misses are recorded and the records reviewed on a regular basis.
Documentary evidence of such reviews and actions taken as a result are kept by at the Centre.
Records comply with appropriate local and national procedures such as RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations).

First Aid

The Centre will ensure that all groups are accompanied by, or have access to at least one responsible person with a valid, nationally recognised, first aid certificate.
In the field, this person will carry a first aid kit with approved contents and suitable emergency equipment, reflecting the nature of the terrain and the activities for which training has been undertaken.
In the Centre, there will be first aid kits in nominated locations; these will be notified to visiting adults.
All kits and equipment will be checked weekly and replaced or renewed as required. All actions will be recorded.
Where groups work independently, all group members will be briefed in the emergency procedures.

Premises, security and insurance

The Centre will ensure that premises comply with national and local safety requirements.
The Centre will ensure that procedures are in place for the security of the grounds, premises, equipment, personnel and property.
The Centre will hold public liability and third party insurance, or recognised alternative provision. Copies of current certificates will be available for inspection on request.

Equipment and Clothing

The Centre will ensure that there is sufficient equipment appropriate to the activities and sites, and that this is made available for use by participants. The Centre will make arrangements to ensure that the equipment is frequently checked, well maintained and fit for the purpose intended. These checks will be recorded. Equipment that has been identified as not safe will be withdrawn immediately. Centre staff will ensure that clothing and footwear worn or carried by pupils provides sufficient protection for the present and expected weather conditions and the activities.


The Centre will ensure that staff with substantial levels of access to pupils, which will generally be unsupervised, will:
-be suitably qualified and experienced;
-have been subject to criminal record checks when appointed;
-possess a current first aid certificate;
-have detailed prior knowledge of the nature and location of the activities and the hazards associated with them.
The Centre will identify the minimum adult: pupil ratio for each type of activity and for the age, abilities and previous experience of the group. This will include reference to the sites and activities where pupils over a minimum age may work independently of immediate adult supervision. Where such independent work takes place, pupil briefing will include time deadlines, written emergency procedures, the location of adults and contact telephone numbers. Although some local education authorities and, in some cases individual schools will have declared a ratio for all outdoor activities, this might be inadequate for certain sites and activities. Where this is the case, we will impose our own recommended ratios.


The Centre will ensure that where sub-contractors are used, they comply with this code and that laid down by DfES policy and practice guidance.

Centre vehicles

The Centre will ensure that all vehicles used by the Centre to transport pupils and adults comply with the requirements of the law and are suitable for and in an appropriate condition for which they are to be used:
-Centre vehicles will have written information about all relevant regulations, copies of vehicle test certificates, and driving licences and relevant test certificates for designated drivers;
-systems will be in place for checking vehicle safety prior to each journey and more detailed checks will be carried out regularly and recorded. Servicing will be carried out to makers’ specifications;
-the Centre will have in place a written procedure for travelling, to include checking doors and seatbelts, stopping, boarding and alighting; behaviour; and adult supervision.


The Centre will ensure the sustainability of its practices.
This policy will specify the Centre’s practices with regard to:
-prohibiting the collection and removal of samples from the most sensitive sites;
-minimising the collection and removal of samples from other sites;
-ensuring the safe return of live animals sampled;
-managing the volume of use of sites;
-using routes which follow recognised paths as far as possible;
-amending programmes to avoid sites which may need additional protection in extreme weather conditions;
-reporting the need for repair, maintenance or conservation work, and wherever appropriate, carrying out or assisting with such work.
We will have a public relations policy which guides our contact with the local community, including:
-liaising with landowners and the local community over activities which may affect them;
-restricting interference with people going about their daily routines;
-operating a documented complaints procedure;
As far as possible, the Centre will demonstrate and promote sustainable practices, including:
-exercising care and concern for the environment both within the centre and beyond;
-minimising energy and water use;
-maximising waste reduction, re-use and recycling;
-ensuring sustainable purchasing practices;
-developing systems for auditing the centre’s environmental performance;
-demonstrating all of the above practices to visiting groups;
-promoting positive attitudes towards the environment.

To arrange a residential visit complete the attached booking form or alternatively contact the centre on 01643 831382, Fax 01643 831557 or e-mail for further information.