School visits and outdoor learning

Off-site educational visits and outdoor learning make a valuable contribution to children and young people’s education and development.

Our schools, youth groups and children’s settings provide a wide range of stimulating, educationally valuable and worthwhile off-site visits for young people every year.  If you want to know about activities that have been arranged for your child, talk to the educational visits coordinator at their school, setting or youth centre.  They’ll be able to tell you why the visits have been arranged and what the criteria are for taking part.

Charging for school activities

The Department for Education provides advice about which activities schools can charge for, including school off-site educational visits and residential visits.

Benefits of educational visits

Learning outside the classroom is an important part of children and young people's educational entitlement.  It helps them learn new skills, gives them new responsibilities and provides personal, social and educational experiences that aren’t available in the classroom.

Outdoor activities and educational visits give youngsters a chance of adventure, to share new experiences and to solve problems alongside their peers. They also teach them to become more aware of risk, safety and personal responsibility in controlled and supervised conditions.

What Ofsted says

According to Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education), learning outside the classroom makes a clear contribution to the learning and development of young people.

"When planned and implemented well, learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to raising standards and improving pupils' personal, social and emotional development." Learning Outside the Classroom: How far should you go? Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) (2008)

The role of the council

We give schools and settings advice, guidance and training to help them provide safe and worthwhile experiences for children and young people away from the school site.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974  places a duty on education employers to make sure that safety measures are in place for young people taking part in off-site visits and outdoor learning.  We have to make sure that schools carry out appropriate risk assessments and safety precautions before any visits take place. We also have to check any arrangements that schools make for educational visits and monitor the way these and other activities are managed and carried out.

Useful links

The Adventure Activities Licensing Scheme is a government sponsored scheme introduced in 1996 under the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations.  It makes sure that those who provide certain adventure activities for young people under 18 have their safety management systems inspected and that, if required, they have an appropriate licence.