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School operations

Excursions

including camps and adventure activities

Supervision

To ensure appropriate and effective levels of supervision, the risk assessment should take into account:

  • the experience, qualifications and skills of staff (including volunteers, instructors, etc)
  • the age, maturity, physical characteristics and gender of students
  • the ability and experience of the students
  • the size of the group
  • the nature and location of the excursion
  • the activities to be undertaken
  • known or anticipated weather conditions
  • requirements outlined in the information for specific adventure activities (see Adventure Activity Guidelines section)
  • emergency response planning
  • any other relevant factors.

Minimum supervision requirements

Department policy provides minimum requirements for staff-student ratios. Schools may need to enhance these measures with additional staff or volunteers to ensure student and staff safety.

Schools must take into account the likelihood of circumstances where a staff member may be unable to actively supervise the group (e.g. staff illness, staff needing to support a particular student because of illness, behaviour etc.), and the time it will take for a replacement staff member to arrive at the excursion destination.

Except where otherwise indicated, all excursions and camps must have a minimum of 2 staff members.

  • Local excursions
    Regular class teacher-student ratios with an additional accompanying staff member (as required)
  • Day excursions
    1 to 20 staff-student ratio with a minimum of 2 staff
  • Overnight base camps
    1 to 10 staff-student ratio with a minimum of 2 staff
  • Overnight study camps
    1 to 15 staff-student ratio with a minimum of 2 staff
  • Interstate travel
    1 to 10 staff-student ratio with a minimum of 2 staff
  • Overseas travel
    1 to 10 staff-student ratio with a minimum of 2 staff
  • Adventure activities
    Specific ratios for each activity, see section on Adventure Activities

The excursion must:

  • be under the direct control of a teacher employed by the Department or the school council at all times, with at least one other excursion staff member present (Note: excursion staff can include a range of adults including parent volunteers and specialist instructors – refer to the chapter on Staffing – roles and responsibilities for more information)
  • have enough teachers employed by the Department or school council to maintain appropriate control of the excursion and of each activity and to provide for the safety and wellbeing of participating students and staff
  • have teachers comprising at least half of the excursion staff.

How to apply the ratios

A minimum of 2 staff must accompany students on all excursions.

For example:

  • if a day excursion includes 16 students, there would need to be a minimum of 2 staff members accompanying the group
  • if planning a day excursion for 60 students, there would need to be a minimum of 3 staff members accompanying the group. This meets both the 1:20 staff-student ratio and the requirement that a minimum of two staff accompany students on all excursions.

The need for further staff should be identified through appropriate risk management planning.

Mixed gender groups

For overnight stays for mixed gender groups the excursion must include staff of at least one person of each sex. In primary schools this requirement may be waived, where staff of each sex are not available.

Exceptions to minimum supervision requirements

Excursions in the local area

For small group excursions in the local area, a teacher must be responsible for the excursion. However, with the approval of the principal, a small group can be supervised by one or more excursion staff employed by the Department or school council who are not teachers (for example, education support class officers such as integration aides and teacher assistants).

Day excursions for senior secondary students

Schools can consider having less than the minimum supervision ratios for senior secondary students attending local or day excursions, only when student safety will not be compromised.

Consideration should be given to the age, number and individual needs of the students as well as any relevant factors relating to attending staff.

Unsupervised excursions

For unsupervised excursions, the excursion must:

  • be approved by the principal only:
    • in a small number of instances
    • for secondary-aged students
    • for activities involving small groups of students
  • and the teacher responsible for the activity must maintain a formal record of:
    • a description of the activity, including locations
    • the names and ages of students involved
    • the time of leaving and returning to school.

The teacher responsible for the activity must ensure that students have appropriate methods of communication in the event of an emergency.

Transport to and from excursions

Schools can consider having less than the minimum supervision ratios when transporting students to and from the excursion venue.

Consideration should be given to:

  • distance travelled
  • type of transportation
  • the age, number and individual needs of the students.

The decision to alter the supervision ratios for transportation to and from the venue should be documented in the risk assessment and controls enacted accordingly.

Chapter in the Excursion Guidelines outlining supervision requirements during an excursion

Reviewed 25 May 2021

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