ODENZ schools’ outdoor education programmes aim to provide a safe, enjoyable and challenging learning experience in the outdoors, with risk management being the key to safety.

One of the benefits of working as a group is the opportunity for all members to work together in setting high standards for safety and the delivery of their programmes. In fact, all ODENZ members have agreed to work toward a quality/ safety mark. It is called the Outdoors Mark and managed by an organisation called Outdoors New Zealand. To receive this quality mark, schools must reach minimum standards in all areas of their planning and delivery of outdoor education programmes.

Many of the outdoor education instructors belong to the New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association and have internationally recognised qualifications in such activities as rock climbing, skiing, mountaineering, kayaking and safety management.

The instructor to student ratio for outdoor activities is determined by the nature of the activity. For example, tramping will have higher numbers of students per instructor, typically 1:10, than kayaking which may have a ratio as low as 1:4.

Risk assessment is carried out for each activity undertaken by ODENZ schools, on the basis of students’ skill level and experience, weather conditions, location of the activity, and the likes of river, snow, mountain and bush conditions.

At all times, students will be asked to challenge themselves physically and mentally. They will be doing this in a safely managed environment that builds confidence, a sense of achievement, skill development and trust in their fellow students and instructors.