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Recommended adult to child ratios when supervising children

NSPCC factsheet

April 2013

Guidance on appropriate levels of supervision for children of different age groups and with different needs.

When working with groups of children or young people, it is important that the level of supervision is appropriate to their age group and their needs, which may be very specific. In general, younger children need to be more closely supervised and will require a higher adult to child ratio.


Ratios

The following are the adult to child ratios we would recommend for voluntary organisations:

  • Aged 0 - 2 years:
    1 adult to 3 children
  • Aged 2 - 3 years:
    1 adult to 4 children
  • Aged 4 - 8 years:
    1 adult to 6 children
  • Aged 9 - 12 years:
    1 adult to 8 children
  • Aged 13 - 18 years:
    1 adult to 10 children.

If the group is mixed gender, the supervising staff should also include both male and female workers wherever possible.

When deciding on the number of adults required, it is important to bear in mind that these ratios are guidelines only: in certain situations it will be necessary to have a higher number of adults than our recommendations suggest. If, for instance, the children or young people have specific support needs, or a risk assessment identifies behaviour as a potential issue for the group or event, the number of supervising adults will need to be higher.

It may not always be possible to adhere to these recommended ratios. However, every effort should be made to achieve the best level of supervision of children at all times.


Related content

SafeNetwork (accessed April 2013) Adult to child ratios for organisations supervising or working with children.


Contact the NSPCC's information service for more information about codes of practice and child protection