Staffing and Supervision

Purpose of this policy

To ensure excursions are appropriately staffed.

Prerequisite policy


Schools must ensure excursions are appropriately staffed.

Supervision ratios

Department guidelines provide minimum requirements for staff-student ratios. Schools may need to enhance these measures to ensure student safety.

To ensure appropriate and effective levels of supervision, excursion planning 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
  • requirements outlined in the Safety Guidelines for Education Outdoors, for specific adventure activities
  • any other relevant factors. 

The table below outlines the minimum supervision ratios for the various types of excursions:

Type of excursions

​Minimum staffStaff - student ratio
​Local excursions

​Regular class teacher-student ratios with additional accompanying staff member (as required) .

Day excursions 

​                   2

1: 20

(Principals may extend this ratio for senior secondary students only, if student safety will not be compromised. The rationale for extending this ratio must be documented.)

Adventure activities

​                  2
  • according to the specific guidelines for the activity.

See: Safety Guidelines for Education Outdoors within Department resources

Overnight excursions:

Base camps in residential premises or under canvas

​                  2

 1 : 10 

Study camps in residential premises

Example: Year 12 camp.

​                  2

1 : 15

Interstate travel

​                  2

1 : 10

​Overseas travel ​                  2​1 : 10

How to apply the ratios

A minimum of two 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.

Further supervision requirements

This table outlines further supervision requirements

ForThe excursion must

most excursions

  • be under the direct control of a teacher employed by the Department or the school council with at least one other excursion staff member present
  • have enough teachers employed by the Department or school council to maintain appropriate control of the excursion and of each activity
  • have teachers comprising at least half of the excursion staff.

overnight stays for mixed gender groups

  •  include excursion staff of at least one person of each sex.

Note: In primary schools this requirement may be waived, where staff of each sex are not available.

small group excursions in the local area

  • with the approval of the principal, be supervised by one or more excursion staff employed by the Department or school council (for example, education support class officers such as integration aides and teacher assistants).

unsupervised excursions

  • be approved by the principal only:
    - in a small number of instances
    - for secondary-aged students
    - for activities involving small groups of individual 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.
  • In addition, principals should ensure:
    - a risk assessment of the activity is completed
    - their decision and the reasons for allowing the activity to proceed is documented.

Excursion staff

Excursion staff must be approved by the principal and may include:

  • teachers employed by the Department or school council
  • other adults on a volunteer or paid basis such as:
    • parents or carers
    • education support class officers
    • community members
    • trainee teachers
    • campsite staff
    • specialist instructors for excursion activities.

Important: school students cannot be used as excursion staff.

Excursion staff who will provide supervision of students and who are not registered teachers must have a Working with Children check.

The names of volunteer workers must be recorded for the purposes of volunteer workers insurance see: Volunteer Workers within Related policies

Where approved excursion staff who are not teachers employed by the Department or school council are in attendance they can be included in the staff-student ratio:

  • for the duration of a specific activity for which they have a designated supervisory responsibility; or
  • for the overall staff-student ratio for the program, where they are on duty and available on the same basis as other staff (usually a 24 hour basis).

Important: the specific roles and responsibilities of each staff member (teachers, instructors, campsite staff, volunteers, etc) must be clarified and understood by all staff and students prior to the commencement of the excursion.

Specialist staff

Schools must:

  • ensure that where specialist instructors are employed they:
    • have the necessary skills or qualifications for the activity
    • have appropriate experience for the age and skill level of the students
  • hold appropriate public liability insurance, see: Related policies
  • while specialist instructors have the technical knowledge and expertise to instruct the students, the teachers have overall responsibility for the safety and welfare of the students, even where the teachers do not directly provide the actual instruction.

Related policies

Department resource