Balancing risk and benefits in the outdoors

Posted by Nick Colton on 09/03/2010

Nothing Ventured...Balancing risks and benefits in the outdoors by Tim Gill is published by the English Outdoor Council and aimed at teachers and other children’s services professionals.

This booklet encourages readers to take a reasonable and proportionate approach to safety and reassures them that a degree of risk, properly managed, is positively desirable in helping young people to learn to manage their own safety. A risk-averse approach is discouraged. Instead, readers are encouraged to balance the risks and the benefits from an activity.

It opens with this quote

Developing confidence and risk judgement among young people is crucial if we are to structure a society that is not risk averse. We need to accept that uncertainty is inherent in adventure, and this contains the possibility of adverse outcomes. A young person’s development should not be unduly stifled by the proper need to consider the worst consequence of risk but must be balanced by its likelihood and indeed its benefits.
Tom Mullarkey OBE, Chief Executive, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accident

Helpfully, the booklet summarises, explores, and generally undermines six myths and misconceptions in this area.  These are:

  1. The number of school visits is in serious decline.
  2. Visits and outdoor activities are excessively dangerous.
  3. Teachers face serious risk of prosecution.
  4. Litigation is rampant.
  5. The courts are systematically making bad judgements.
  6. Teaching unions are advising teachers not to lead or take part in educational visits.  

There are also chapters on why adventure matters, risks are explored, and the legal side is examined.

Essentially, in its own words, the booklet is about "creating space and time for children to take a degree of control for their actions: giving them meaningful challenges that inevitably give rise to real risks. This means that the outcomes will never be entirely certain. While the risks can be managed, they cannot and should not be eliminated, and absolute safety cannot and should not be guaranteed."

As it says "The time is right to move on from unproductive debates about the blame culture."

This is an intelligent and timely publication that chimes with much that the BMC publishes.  See the BMC's Parents Guide, for instance.  

Click here to download the booklet.

 

 

 



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English Outdoor Council
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