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Group leaders and Forestry Commission staff responsibilities

The Group Leader's Responsibilities

To ensure a safe visit, the group leader 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 Forestry Commission staff to discuss the programmes; the group's needs and assess the site conditions.

The group leader must carry out the necessary risk assessments for the visit and the journey to and from Westonbirt. All parental or guardian consents and permissions should be obtained by the group leader before the visit.

For school groups the Local Education Authority should lay down the minimum ratio of students to supervisors. 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.

Westonbirt is a working environment. The group leader will ensure 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 with each class has a basic knowledge of First Aid. Accidents, whether requiring treatment or not must be reported to FC staff.

The school or other group, through the LEA or 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 educational visit, and will during the period of the visit maintain an insurance policy with a reputable insurance company 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 or LEA to the Forestry Commission.

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. 

Additional permits may be required for specialist activities or field studies - contact the Westonbirt education team 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. We have Risk Assessments for activities related to all of our programmes. These are available on request.

Most Forestry Commission staff have basic knowledge of First Aid and have kits at their disposal, although the 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.


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