Staff to Child Ratios – Guidance

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This page lists the minimum supervision standards required for OSCAR approval and provides guidance and suggestions on how to meet these standards. This is good advice, and PYM endorses it.

Staff to child ratios – guidance

No person under the age of 16 years may be counted toward the staff component of the staff-to-child ratio.

There is a minimum of two staff supervising children at all times. For small services (with no more than ten children) one staff member may be adequate. In this instance, the service must apply in writing for an exemption. Services must document the reasons for this application, identify the risks and how they will be managed.

The minimum ratio of staff-to-children is:

  • one staff member to ten children on-site
  • one staff member to eight children off-site.

At all times services need to consider the nature of the programme activities, the level of risk and adequate staffing to ensure the safety of the children.

There are activities that are high risk and consequently need a greater number of staff and/or other specialist staff. Services must have up-to-date risk assessments for high-risk activities.

Children receive competent supervision.

An approved provider demonstrates that the service meets the following supervision requirements:

    1. Every child must be adequately supervised at all times.
    2. Services have staff with appropriate maturity, experience and training.
    3. Overall management and site supervision must be carried out by an adult

of at least 20 years of age.

    1. All adults counted towards supervision ratios must be 16 years or over.
    2. Children are supervised by a minimum of two staff. An exemption to this

requirement may be possible where risks for child and adult safety are appropriately managed. Services must document the reasons for this exception and how risks will be managed.

    1. Services must maintain staff-to-child ratios of one staff member to no more

than ten children.

    1. For excursions, staff-to-child ratios should reflect the nature of the activity and

be one staff to no more than eight children. For high-risk activities including water-based activities, there should be fewer children per adult, in accordance with the risk assessment.

  1. When children stay overnight at a centre-based programme or camp, minimum supervision involves gender appropriate staff of either:
    • two staff members sleeping in the facility or
    • two staff monitoring the sleeping areas.

Adequate supervision – guidance

Staff should be familiar with the children and know where the children are and who is supervising them. Services should be able to demonstrate and explain how they supervise the children, including:

  • staff position so they have a wide view and are at a reasonable distance so they can assist or intervene if necessary
  • having adequate numbers of staff to maintain the required ratio for the activity
  • how they ensure children remain on site.

Staff skills – guidance

Services must have staff with appropriate maturity, experience and training. This includes being supportive, positive and using appropriate behaviour management techniques.

Management and site supervision – guidance

The overall manager or site supervisor, who must be 20 years of age or older, must be on-site during all programme operating hours and be available to children, staff and visitors.

Overnight stays – guidance

Services must be able to demonstrate:

  • the nature of the sleeping facilities
  • who will be supervising the children and how this is managed, including ratios and gender-appropriate supervision
  • procedure for children to contact a staff member in case of emergency, sickness or other needs.