Staff competence and knowledge to help or to organise a trip
Organisers of Schools and Community Groups skiing on snow will have attended the Snowsports
Course Organiser course administered by Snowsport England. (www.snowsportengland.org.uk)
They will be approved by their Headteacher or Educational Visits Coordinator (EVC) to be a
Party Leader overseas and will therefore have assisted with at least two similar events, prior to
their first trip as leader.
Its good practice for them to have a current first aid certificate although this requirement can also
be met by an assisting member of staff.
Any approved party leader can take a group to a dry ski slope. It is good practice for them to
have recent skiing experience and to be familiar with the location they intend to use but is not
essential where there is another person available to monitor the quality of external provision.
Qualifications for anyone to lead activity on artificial slopes are generally those of
Snowsport England and can be seen by following the link to their website.
There is a subtle but important distinction between leading a full coaching session and
supervising a group who are building on their experience. The former is almost always the
responsibility of ski school staff based with a local or UK company, the latter can be a member of
the supervising staff with appropriate competence normally the Alpine Ski Leader Award.
All staff accompanying ski trips, who will be supervising the group at some time, will need to be
familiar with the range of emergency contingencies, where assistance can be found and what
assistance is provided by the organising company.
The Party Leader will provide a full description of the activity including any risks. This information
will cover the full range of activities that are included in the itinerary and some that are held in
reserve. It is good practice to provide the young people with a handbook that will enable parents
to see the key safety assurances if they are unable to attend the parents meeting. There may be
some need for information from parents about fitness to participate, swimming capability if there
is a pool nearby and any recent injury. If there is any doubt about whether an injury increases the
risk to a young person then this should be referred to a GP for their assurance on participation.
Some staff may supervise groups skiing outside of lessons on safe pisted areas or cross them in
order to get to a meeting point. Supervision of this type can only be carried out by staff who hold
the Alpine Ski Leader Award, the BASI Coach or Teacher level qualification (www.basi.org.uk) or
its international equivalent. These supervisors may use their judgement to appoint assistants to
help them and to be responsible for smaller groups.
Contracting with a provider
Ski trip organisers will be mindful of the cost and the need to encourage wide ranging
participation. They will conduct research into the quality, organisational and safety record of any
company that they intend to use. In normal circumstances this will require a preliminary visit or
experience of the area to be visited before leading a party to a resort for the first time. In
exceptional circumstances, where the company offers a particularly good support package in the
country, the objectives for a preliminary visit can be achieved in different ways.
A minimum of four hours tuition per day, should be arranged and then additional supporting
activities for the rest of the time. These need not be restricted to those your ski company
provides but sourced through other local guides. Great care is required in risk assessing the
safety of adventure activities and the reliability of information obtained from inexperienced staff or
from those with little local knowledge.
It is not necessarily always the case that a travel company needs to arrange a skiing event.
Some very experienced staff with a background of arranging overseas trips may well be able to
take on this work themselves. There are examples of this around the country and anyone
interested should contact the Outdoor Education Adviser for more information
Preparation of participants
A programme of preparation will be arranged and given to participants. The details can be found
in the operational section that follows.
Operational Requirements and Procedures
Preparations for all participants
The demands of an intensive week skiing need to be appreciated in order to be able to realise
the values and outcomes that participants have paid for. It is good practice therefore to provide
for all participants including supporting staff a programme for preparing themselves that includes:
• physical fitness training
• familiarisation with the winter climate and with high mountains where altitude conditions
• any personal equipment on your list
• evaluating your own performance
• how to support the ski school coaching
• post activity exercise regimes to prevent fatigue and injury.
Suggestions can be found in the handbook for the Ski Course Organiser and the Alpine Ski
Leader Award available from Snow Sport England
Staff supervision in the resort
Supervision in the resort begins as the coach arrives at the destination and therefore includes
disembarkation and walking to the accommodation. Plans need to include the occasionally
unforeseen need to walk a greater distance than normal.
Staff will therefore consider the set down location carefully to avoid the risks of passing vehicles
that are for UK residents on the other side of the road.
When they enter the accommodation there will normally be a reliance on the accommodation
providers safety procedures. At an early briefing these will need to be extended to include local
factors if the young people are allowed to leave the hotel in small groups to visits local shops or
facilities. A member of staff will first conduct a tour of the locality to ensure that there are no
previously unforeseen significant hazards.
Staff will liaise with the ski company staff to plan the route to the muster point for ski schools
which may well require a first chair lift to get to the snow level.
They will brief the group on the location of key points of interest so that they can get their
bearings and find the muster points if they become separated. It is good practice to have given
them a piste map and to ensure that they know how to use it generally and in an emergency or
At the muster point a safe location to wait will be found that provides protection from other skiers
and for young people to gather in when returning from lessons. The availability of toilets nearby
to the muster point is a valuable asset.
Staff will then accompany the groups to ensure that supervision and tuition provided by ski
school staff is of the anticipated quality and to manage any problems that the party members
There will be daily supervisors briefing that anticipates the return times from lessons so that there
are staff delegated to cover the muster point. This will also need to enable supervision of anyone
finishing early and those who want to remain in the ski area.
Regular head counts are necessary when the locations are very busy and particularly when there
are a lot of young people from different groups.
It is good practice to adopt a buddy system that puts young people into small groups that they
are likely to be at ease with so that:
• anyone missing or distressed is picked up quickly
• when remotely supervised the groups provide protection against unwanted attention
• they can support each other during lessons and after them.
Some companies provide an escort service for anyone who is injured and needs to get to
hospital. Mobile phones or local short-range radios are a good means of enabling the staff to
contact the party leader or each other when this happens. The limitations and cost of either
method should be considered carefully in each resort as would any licence implications for the
use of some radios.
Staff would consider the circumstances (very poor weather) in which a general withdrawal from
the ski area may be needed and how they would contact each other to know who has and has
not left the resort, in such a way that everyone can be accounted for or identified as missing.
In some situations it may be considered appropriate to allow ski school staff to lead a group
without a member of the party staff accompanying them. A decision to agree to this would have
to be based upon:
• the ability of the ski school staff and their knowledge of the group
• the ratio of staff to students in complex resorts where its easier to get lost and where
more supervision maybe necessary
• the additional supervision ratio that any group or individual might need
• the competency and fitness of the accompanying staff available.
Staff will check each day that young people leave the hotel with hats scarves, gloves, spare
clothing, sun block, drinks, lift pass and anything else deemed appropriate.
Young people will be reminded not to put things into their pockets that could fall out while on a
chair lift and injure anyone below them.
If they are carrying a bag then they will be advised about the risk of them catching on chair lifts
and therefore prior to getting close to boarding they should remove them and hold them in front
Should anyone drop something from any chair lift then they should note the number of the
nearest pylon to know where to start a search.
Young people and all inexperienced skiers should be briefed about the risks from lifts so that
they know not to jump from them when they stop, how to get on and off and to clear the access
and egress area as soon as possible after getting off. They should also know what to do if they
do not get off at the right time or place or come off a drag lift early. Briefings should warn of the
hazards from falling objects as they pass underneath particularly chair and other ‘open’ lifts and
so they should take action to avoid this as far as possible. When out they will carry spare food,
clothing, sun block and if practical a drink so they can look after themselves if the weather
changes. If its particularly hot and they become dehydrated this will accelerate the effects of
fatigue or altitude.
Staff will monitor their groups to ensure that they are eating properly particularly those who may
be fussy eaters. They will be briefed to report any injuries, however minor, so that appropriate
remedial action can be taken.
Currency and costs
Staff may need to have access to a source of funding to meet the initial costs of medical
attention. The E111 or its replacement should be used as far as more serious treatment is
concerned but resort clinics will render a bill for anything they can reasonably treat. These
requirements are even more important in North America.
Staff should all be familiar with the insurance provided by the council and for any specialist cover
that they need. Details of the insurance companies should be carried so they can be contacted
before any expense is incurred, to confirm cover.
A bank system should be used to ensure that students are not carrying large sums of money or
storing it in their rooms. Most hotels will have a safe where this can be kept while not in use.
Emergency procedures need to consider
• A missing or lost student either from the ski lesson muster area or from the
• A serious accident that is sufficient to cause a level of distress to staff and or students.
• An incident in the resort such as a lift failure or avalanche.