Our Approach to Risk
Keeping young people safe is our highest priority at BroadTree, and we pride ourselves in our holistic approach to risk management. We believe it’s in the young peoples’ interests for us to manage risk to be ‘as low as necessary’ (ALAN) rather than ‘as low as reasonably practicable’ (ALARP).
The key difference here is ALAN leaves space for minor risks to remain. This gives young people the chance to learn risk identification and management, setting them up for safety for the rest of their lives.
For more detail we recommend ‘Nothing Ventured… Balancing risks and benefits in the outdoors’ by Tim Gill or more informally ‘The risks of NOT letting your kids do risky things’ by Brett & Kate McKay.
Risk Management at BroadTree
Risk must be present to learn risk management. Risks that BroadTree have chosen to retain include (but are not limited to!) the possibility of getting bitten, stung, scratched, bruised or grazed by spending time in and moving around the forest, the risk of burns from fires, cuts from knife and tool use, and sprains or maybe even a broken bone from tree climbing.
There are comprehensive risk benefit assessments around our activities, and only activities with clear benefits are included in sessions. As an example, we’re proud to offer tree climbing because the benefits include balance and gross motor skills development, mastery of a new skill, decision making practise, improved executive functioning, and should a ball or cat ever get stuck in a tree in future, the young person will be able to make an informed decision about whether it’s safe to climb up and get it.
Why we manage risk to be ALAN
We believe too many activities aimed at young people provide a sanitised experience with no or minimal risk present, denying children vital opportunities to learn about risk. The ALAN approach to risk gives young people the chance to learn the skills they need to be safer in life, both now and in the future.
This is in line with the BANES ‘Playful Risk’ policy which states: “Equally, if children are denied opportunities to assess some risks for themselves in a variety of settings and situations, then it is reasonable to be concerned that they will lack the experience and skills to distinguish between levels of risk in the wider world”
We agree with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who want to “see children learn to deal with risk through play and adventure” and believe that “Bumps and scrapes in childhood are part of the process of learning to deal with hazards in life.” (Judith Hackitt, HSE Chair, May 2011)