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Guidelines for safe school and group visits

Guidelines for a safe and enjoyable visit

The group leader's responsibilities:

  • To ensure a safe visit, the group leader and other adult helpers will be expected to take an active part in the visit and will be entirely responsible for discipline, safety and overall control of the group. Group leaders should try to arrange a preliminary visit with the Forestry Commission staff to discuss the programme and the group's needs and to assess the site conditions.
  • The group leader must carry out the necessary risk assessments for the visit. All parental or guardian consents and permissions should be obtained by the group leader before the visit. Leaders must ensure that the visit conforms to relevant FC risk assessments.
  • FC staff may refuse to lead your group if you do not fulfil the following minimum ESCC/KCC ratios: pre-school / Year R (under 5 yrs): 1 adult to 5 children; Years 1-3 (5-8 yrs): 1 adult to 6 children; Years 4-6 (8-11 yrs): 1 adult to 10-15 children; Year 7 and above (11 yrs +): 1 adult to 15-20 children.
  • It is the group leader's responsibility to ensure that students are wearing appropriate footwear and clothing for the conditions. Weather conditions can change rapidly and forest sites are often muddy - advice should be sought if in doubt.
  • The forest is a working environment. The group leader will ensure that warning signs and instructions from Forestry Commission staff are heeded, areas where work is in progress are avoided and the group is kept together. In the case of an accident, the group leader and visiting staff will be on hand to give any information about special requirements. The group leader will be responsible for ensuring that at least one supervisor has a basic knowledge of First Aid. Accidents, whether requiring treatment or not, must be reported to FC staff.
  • The group leader is responsible for ensuring all litter is taken away with the group and that no damage is caused to the environment or site facilities. The group leader and/or their organisation will be held responsible to make good any such damages.
  • The school or other group, through the LEA or other insurance, as appropriate, will indemnify the Forestry Commission against all claims arising from any loss or damage, or injury or death to participants and any third parties arising from the education visit and will, during the period of the visit, maintain an insurance policy with a reputable insurance company for an amount of not less than £5 million in respect of any one claim. The amount of such insurance shall not limit the liability of the school, group or LEA to the Forestry Commission. A copy of the policy, where applicable, must be included with the returned booking form.
  • Additional permits may be required for specialist activities or field studies. Contact us for advice.

Forestry Commission staff responsibilities

During a visit led by Forestry Commission staff, the staff member will co-ordinate the activities of the group and will advise the group of any particular known hazards that may apply on the day of the visit.

Most Forestry Commission staff have basic knowledge of first aid and have kits at their disposal, although prime responsibility for rendering first aid remains with the group leader.

Forestry Commission staff have the discretion to exclude from the visit anyone who is not properly equipped or fails to comply with other conditions listed above.


Please could ALL self-led schools report to the Information Office in the visitor centre on arrival.

If someone in your group has an accident whilst at Bedgebury the emergency response number is 01580 879820, should you need assistance. The line is staffed during office hours - outside these hours please call 999 for help. All accidents occurring at Bedgebury, whether in office hours or outside them, MUST be reported to us by calling 01580 879820.

Please note that the primary responsibility for rendering first aid for all visiting schools and groups lies with the group leader.

Last updated: 10th August 2016


Bedgebury Office

01580 879820

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.