Helping Group Leaders

Breaking down the barriers

Download our handy guide to finding High Quality Outdoor Learning and Residential Experiences

Planning and paperwork

Our members are there to help and support you in preparing for and planning your visit.

In terms of addressing red tape AHOEC are committed to the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge which will be awarded to providers who have pledged to engage in an ongoing process to sustain high-quality learning outside the classroom and who have demonstrated that they meet six quality indicators. This should re-assure clients of the standards they would expect while visiting one of our members.

Outdoor-education-Group-Leaders-AHOECThe new National Guidance on planning and managing visits creates a balanced approach to planning visits. Outdoor Education Advisers Panel members work with schools in local authorities, academies or independent schools and non-school groups. An Outdoor Education Advisor can support you with advice, training and support. To find your advisor please go to The Quality Badge will be awarded to providers who have pledged to engage in an ongoing process to sustain high-quality learning outside the classroom and who have demonstrated that they meet six quality indicators.

Health and Safety

Where appropriate many of our members have AALA licenses or have achieved AAIAC Adventuremark for their Centres, both schemes allow for external assessment of health and safety procedures and should reassure group leaders that appropriate measures are in place to safeguard visitors.

We believe in a measured and appropriate approach to the management of risk, an approach supported by RoSPA and the HSE:

“We do not believe in extremist health and safety ideas which would keep children wrapped in cotton wool. Our argument is that a skinned knee or a twisted ankle in a challenging and exciting play environment is not just acceptable, it is a positive necessity. We need to prepare children for a complex, dangerous world in which healthy, robust activity is more a national need than ever before. We think people should climb mountains, and sail boats…”
Tom Mullarkey, Chief Executive RoSPA, November 2007

“The overwhelming majority of educational visits are carried out safely and responsibly by teachers who take the time and effort to get things right. The benefits of such trips to pupils can be immense. Exposure to well managed risks helps children learn important life skills, including how to manage risks for themselves. The Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto aims to ensure that all young people have a variety of high quality learning experiences outside the classroom environment.”

How can I ensure a high quality visit?

In addition to the AALA Licensing and Adventuremark, many of our members have now achieved the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality (LOtC) badge, for details on this initiative please see the LOtC website

In an effort to illustrate the high standards our members operate by, AHOEC have gained recognition, from the LOtC for it’s Gold Standard badge, which sets more exacting demands on members to raise standards yet further.

Some of the paperwork and burden associated with the checking of external providers of LOtC has been reduced through the new LOtC Quality Badge scheme. For further details of the scheme go to  AHOEC have fully supported this process and built on this by developing their own Gold Standard mark that exceeds the LOtC Quality badge, giving further reassurances to staff about the safety and quality of their visit.

Funding and Costs

For many groups the cost of the visit is a significant barrier. If so then moving visits out of the peak summer season will provide more choice and lower costs. Autumn visits are particularly useful for bring a new cohort of young people together and many of our members have attractive deals on at this time of year.

A first time visit?

Our members are always available to help and support staff organising a visit for the first time, and we would strongly recommend that a pre-visit to the Centre is essential. For many people working in local authority school and youth settings there is additional help from your school/youth based Educational Visits Co-ordinator and your Outdoor Education Advisor, who can also assist with training.

Top Tips

For more great advice see Learning Away

-Be clear about why you want to go on the visit and what outcomes you want from it.

-Discuss your plans with colleagues and gain approval to proceed, if necessary.

-Develop your ideas with young people and involve them in the process of planning.

-Discuss your requirements with the provider, plan a pre-visit.