Adventurous activities - planning and notifying an excursion

All those involved in the delivery and management of adventurous outdoor activities under the supervision of the council must use the excursion management system, Evolve to log and seek authorisation for all off site excursions.

Evolve is a cornerstone of the safety management system and it is crucial that this system is used by all establishments that are planning adventurous activities. Its primary purpose is to provide a protective support mechanism for Heads of Establishments, giving them direct access to expert advice upon which they can base decisions and judgements. Since it is Heads of Establishments who carry responsibility for the safety of adventurous activities, excursions or events this tier is vital for the effective management of safety.

Whether outdoor activities are delivered in house by establishments or contracted out to external providers, it is essential that they are under pinned by a robust safety management system.

Allied to the notification process are the Register of Approved External Providers and the database of internal staff qualifications. These two mechanisms help to ensure that only quality providers are used and that staff leading activities directly are appropriately trained and qualified.

Informing parents

Our  safety policy requires that parents should be informed at an early date with full and explicit information about proposed outdoor activities.

Employees designated as organisers of an outdoor activity must send a communication containing the information indicated below to parents in advance of the time during which the activity will take place.


Aberdeenshire Council provides insurance cover for pupils and staff on offsite excursions.  The policy covers medical expenses, personal accident,  loss of baggage, cancellation, curtailment and change of itinerary (along with other sundry benefits) etc for worldwide trips and adventurous activities (including winter sports).   The policy does not cover the loss or damage of personal items, such as watches, jewellery, tablets/mobiles phones etc unless the loss or damage is caused by an Aberdeenshire Council employee.  People wishing to have insurance cover for such items will need to make the Council’s policy.

Claims of third parties

The Council's third party liability policy meets claims from third parties arising from the negligence of the Council or its employees.


All courses will be conducted in accordance with our policy for Safety and Good Practice in Outdoor Education (pdf 494KB) (view appendices). The policy seeks to define current best practice and informs the arrangements within the Council’s management systems for the consistent assurance of that best practice.

The document is not a definitive guide but must be considered as the principal source of guidance and instruction to help ensure the safe management and delivery off all Off-Site Excursions. 

The guidance is underpinned by the Scottish Government framework document 'Going Out There' which establishes the tone and spirit for the delivery of outdoor learning and outdoor education.

The planning, organisation and participation on trips is of a voluntary nature (unless there are contractual implications) but where such trips are organised they must comply with these guidelines. No amount of planning can guarantee that an excursion will be totally incident free, but good planning and attention to safety measures can reduce the number of accidents and lessen the seriousness of those that do happen.

Risk assessments

Generic risk assessments are provided as exemplars for all of the more common adventurous activities:

These risk assessments may be used by Visit leaders who are organising and  leading these activities to inform their control and management of the activity. Visit Leaders and Staff leading these activities them must read the risk assessment(s) carefully and sign a declaration to confirm that the control measures identified will be implemented.

Visit Leaders and staff leading such activities should be aware that generic risk assessments are only part of the story and that a site specific risk assessment should be carried out and recorded with any additional control measures identified that pertain to:

  • the particular nature and technical level of the activity
  • time of year
  • the chosen venue
  • any special measures required for the group or individuals

Risk assessment template

The risk assessment template has been produced for use by all establishments undertaking excursions. Please complete this and attach to your visit forms.