National Safeguarding Unit (NSU) - Safe Activities For Everyone

Adult to child ratios for organisations supervising or working with children 

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When you’re running activities for children and young people, you will need a certain amount of adult supervision to help keep them safe.  We have outlined some suggested adult:child ratios below.

Staffing and supervision ratios can sometimes be difficult to judge. It is important that you have sufficient staff and volunteers in place to ensure the safety of children – and that these adults are suitable to undertake these tasks.

Your organisation and its staff and volunteers will need to have:

  • an undertstanding of their responsiblity to keep children and young people safe
  • insurance for certain activities
  • codes of practice

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for staff and volunteers may be also be appropriate and good practice.

The level of supervision needs to be appropriate to the children involved in the activity.  This could vary depending on:

  • age (see table below)
  • gender
  • behaviour
  • abilities within your group
  • nature and duration of activities
  • competence and experience of staff involved 
  • requirements of location, accommodation or organisation based
  • any special medical needs
  • specialist equipment needed.

Boy on climbing frame with wolly hat onThe following table shows recommended adult to child ratios.  These are partially based on Ofsted guidelines and would be suitable for most organisations working with children and young people: 

 Child's
age
Amount of
adults 
Amount of
children 
 0-2  1  3
 2-3  1  4
 4-8  1  6
 9-12  1  8
 13-18  1  10
Toilet ratios
Adults that haven’t previously volunteered and that haven't had the necessary vetting checks, should not be left alone with children or take them to the toilet unaccompanied.


It therefore may be necessary, in larger groups of children, to encourage bigger groups to take a comfort break together

For example, with a ratio of two adults to ten children 
  • one adult can supervise hygiene duties 
  • one adult can supervise safety and a head count 
The recommended number of toilet facilities for children are
  • children under five years old- one toilet per twenty children 
  • children over five years old- one toilet per ten children 
  • disabled children- one toilet per ten children 

If the group has children of mixed genders, there should be at least one responsible adult of each gender supervising visits to the toilet.

First aid ratios
Sample accident report form 
If your group works with children and young people on a day-to-day basis, it is recommended that at least one of your staff and volunteers is trained in first aid.

If you are a larger organisation, or if you’re running one-off events, check the Safe Network safe events for recommended ratios.

Travelling ratios
When travelling with children and young people, the adult to child ratio can vary depending on size of the group, the age of the children and their behaviours and the size of the vehicle that you are travelling in.

If you are travelling in a car, it is recommended that there is one adult driving and one adult supervising the children. Larger groups and vehicles will require more adults to ensure adequate supervision.
    

Next steps 

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Thinking about having an event? Let us help make it safe for children.

Do you work with children?
Everybody who works with children needs to know what to do if they are concerned about a child.

Safer recruiting
Make sure that you’re recruiting the right people to work with children.

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