The questions and advice on this page provide an overview of the issues that should be considered when planning an outdoor or adventure-based program.
A planning summary may be useful in the initial stages of planning and before bookings are made or dates are confirmed. See:
Planning summary (doc - 15.39kb)
The summary should also be used as a final check before the program commences.
We strongly recommended that school staff obtain the support of the principal for the proposed program before starting detailed planning. Once support is received the detailed planning of the program can begin.
Prior to departure, documentation that might assist with emergency management must be lodged with the principal and the designated 24-hour school contact person. See:
Considerations for detailed planning
Explain the educational benefits that the students will gain, and how they relate to the school's curriculum. How will you determine what students have gained from the experience? Does the educational purpose of the activity justify any potential risk? Is there another less risky activity that could be done that meets the same purpose?
Location and environment
The location and environment in which an activity is conducted are often the most dynamic elements of the excursion. When planning for an excursion, field trip, camp or outdoor education experience it is critical to consider the following:
- the educational opportunity this particular environment offers
- the opportunities, and the specific risks and challenges that are reasonably foreseeable in the environment in which you will be operating
- how to manage and minimise the impact the program will have on the environment
- the supervision issues the environment presents
- the emergency response requirements that will need to be put in place for this particular environment, including specific first aid and/or other equipment required to be able to adequately respond in an emergency
- whether you or your staff have (recent and thorough) local knowledge about this location and if not: do you or other members of staff have experience in a comparable activity environment, and have you contacted a person with recent activity experience of the proposed location to inform your planning
- whether the location is remote; if so, what skills and experience does this require of the staff and students
- whether the type of accommodation and location/s have been documented
- if residential campsites being used are accredited
Specific guidelines will need to be followed for any adventure activity offered to students, and detailed risk management plans developed. See:
Students must have the capacity to manage the range of challenges that the proposed experience may present. You will need to:
- prepare students adequately, and provide information to students and parents that will allow for informed consent to be provided
- develop an effective supervision and instruction framework
- consider whether students require specific skills or abilities to participate safely in the proposed activity
- be aware of any difficulties, behaviours or impairments that may hinder a student's participation or present a challenge for supervision or safety of the group
Will a registered teacher either employed by the Department by the school council be present and have overall responsibility for the activity?
Do all staff comply/satisfy relevant suitability checks, including a Working with Children Check?
Have staff read, understood and agreed to adhere to the relevant safety guidelines?
Experience and qualifications
Do staff providing the instruction and supervision for each element of the program have the required qualifications, skills or experience?
Will assisting staff be able to assume a supervisory role during the activity?
Do the assisting staff have the ability to participate competently in emergency response procedures?
Are the required qualifications, skills and experience documented?
Has a detailed supervision strategy been established for all activities and for non-programmed periods in the excursion?
Are all staff aware of their specific supervision responsibilities?
How will students be supervised during each part of the program, including free-time and any overnight periods?
What is the communication strategy within the group for day-to-day operations?
What is the communication strategy in the event of an emergency?
What limitations does the chosen communication strategy have in the location/s you will use?
What are the common weather features of the environment in the season that you will be visiting?
Has a weather forecast been obtained prior to the excursion? One day prior? One week prior?
Will you be able to obtain weather forecasts during the excursion?
Transport arrangements should comply with the
Transporting Students and VicRoads regulations
How will students be transported to, from and during the excursion?
Are all drivers appropriately licenced and experienced?
Will the group be travelling in an area requiring a Hazardous Areas Authority?
Equipment group and technical
Is any specialist equipment required for the program activities, or emergency management?
What hazards does the equipment present?
How will you ensure that all group equipment you consider essential is present and appropriate?
Clothing and personal equipment
Do members of the group require any specific clothing or equipment for the activities or location?
Have students been given a suggested clothing and equipment list?
How will you ensure that appropriate clothing and equipment is available on the program?
Has informed consent been obtained from parents/guardians?
What first aid qualifications do staff currently hold?
Are those qualifications appropriate for the location, remoteness and nature of the activities being undertaken?
Will a first aid kit stocked appropriately for the location and student group be readily available throughout the program?
Given the group's location and communication strategy, can medical care and treatment be obtained within a reasonable period of time in the event of an emergency?
For an excursion requiring involving overnight excursions, camps, interstate and overseas travel, excursions involving travel via sea or air, excursions involving weekends and vacations and adventure activities, the teacher in charge of the excursion must seek approval from the principal using the Principal approval form.
For more information to guide the approval process, see School Policy and Advisory Guide - Approvals for more details about approvals for excursions.