The Outdoor Education Advisors’ Panel, which comprises advisors from local authorities, academy trusts and independent schools in England and Wales, offers practical information, advice and support to staff taking children off site for outdoor learning.

The panel has now formerly endorsed the RLSS UK’s National Water Safety Management Programme (NWSMP), a suite of training awards which provides teachers and school staff with the knowledge and skills to manage groups of students safely around open water.

Developed with input from organisations such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Outdoor Education Advisors’ Panel, the Institute of Outdoor Learning, Expedition Providers’ Association and Royal Geographical Society, the programme is ideal for staff taking students on field trips which involve being close to water such as rivers, lakes or beaches.

The modular programme takes a common sense approach to safety, balancing proactive safety management practices and preventative measures with effective emergency response skills. Topics range from how to risk assess a site and set up a safety activity plan to installing adequate safety measures and covering rescue skills.

Dr Cliff Nelson, Head of Water Safety Management at the RLSS UK, says: “We’ve worked closely with the outdoor education industry to ensure the NWSMP meets the needs of staff managing groups around water, and we’re continually updating the programme. The beauty of the NWSMP is its flexibility, which allows schools to tailor the training to meet their precise needs.”

Gavin Howat, HM Inspector of Health and Safety at the HSE, says: “Water is a significant factor in a number of deaths of young people on trips. The awareness given by this course should equip leaders to make informed judgements about water and its hazards.”