Adult to child ratios

Stay safe by having the right number of adults in your meetings

We have adult to child ratios that are mandatory for certain activities, but unit meetings are more flexible.

It’s important that you always work to a ratio that supports girls to be safe when having fun in your unit. 

Ratios are the number of adult volunteers and the number of girls in a session, at an activity or in room. We want to make sure the right amount of adults are looking after girls to support their needs and ensure safety.

For unit meetings and activities in your usual meeting place or online, this page helps leaders consider how many adults you need. Read it carefully to make sure you have the right number of adults to supervise children. 

Required ratios for specific activities are in our adventure finder, under the 'planning and safety tab'.   

Unit meetings and your usual meeting place 

When working out a ratio for your unit, consider: 

  • The minimum required adults. 
  • Size of your unit. 
  • The type of activity you're doing. 
  • Support needs for unit members. 
  • Young leader support.

‘Adults’ includes leaders, unit helpers, parent helpers and other adult roles in guiding. 

For all sections, make sure that at every unit meeting there’s: 

  • An adult with an up to date first response first aid training. 
  • At least 1 adult volunteer with or working towards their leadership qualification.  
  • At least 1 leader, assistant leader, or leader in training with an up to date a safe space level 3.  

Adults with roles that require them should have a current Girlguiding disclosure check (DBS/Access NI/PVG).   

Any volunteer who doesn't need a disclosure check for their role must be supervised at all times by someone with a current Girlguiding disclosure check.  

Rainbows and Brownies  

There should be a minimum of 2 adults on site during normal unit meetings at your usual meeting place.  

Guides and Rangers  

You can run a unit with 1 adult but you should minimise risk by trying to: 

  • Run the unit meeting in a building where there are other adults present. 
  • Run the meeting with young leaders to support. 
  • Make sure parents and carers of girls understand that the unit is running with only 1 adult. 
  • Find a second adult to help for the long term. This could be a parent helper or another volunteer.

The best size of a unit depends on the space you’re using and what feels comfortable with your leadership structure and capacity.  

We recommend a minimum unit size of 5 girls for all sections. But the leader can make a judgement call based on things like section (Ranger units might be smaller) and practicality (an equal number of girls might be better for activities).  

Venues vary from unit to unit. Make decisions on ratios based on your usual meeting space. For example, you might need more than the 2 mandatory adults because: 

  • Your usual venue has lots of breakout spaces that you use regularly.
  • Your venue is particularly large. 

You might need more support for some activities. For example, activities that: 

  • Have lots of resources that girls might need help with, like science experiments. 
  • Break girls up into lots of teams or groups, like wide games or skills builders. 
  • Are facilitated by young leaders who might need support. 

You might have girls in your unit who need one-to-one support in meetings. You’ll need to think about the needs of individual girls and change your leadership team capacity to make sure they’re supported.  

There’s more information on including members with additional needs here.  

If you have young  leaders in your unit you will need to think about their support needs, based on their skills, confidence and ability. 

However, young leaders can also take on leadership responsibility for the unit; for example, a competent and confident young leader could support break out groups, help with facilitation and general support, and be tasked to lead specific activities, with supervision.

Therefore in your ratio planning, you might factor in a confident and competent young leader as a leadership team member.

Young leaders should support girls in groups, never 1 to 1.

Looking after children of volunteers

Sometimes volunteers may need to bring their own children to unit meetings, activities and residential events. This should only happen when alternative supervision can’t be arranged and they should check with their local commissioner first.

This situation doesn’t change adult to child ratios in normal unit meetings – so children of volunteers can be included in the ratios above in these cases. But if a volunteer is bringing their children to an event or activity outside the meeting place, those children – and any other children of volunteers – must be looked after by a separate adult.

The ratios below state the number of adults to children of volunteers. These adults must only be assigned to supervise children of volunteers, and can’t be counted a part of the above ratios.

Age of volunteer's children attending event or activity

Adult to child ratio

Event/activity

Residential

Under 5

1:2

1:2

5-7

1:5

1:4

7-10

1:8

1:6

10-14

1:12

1:12

14-17

N/A (but must be supervised)

If children of volunteers are present at an event or residential, it’s important that:

Children of volunteers who are aged between 10 and 14 can’t be present at the activity or event in a helping capacity and must be supervised in the ratio above.

Online guiding and virtual meetings  

All the things you do in your unit to keep girls safe still apply online: 

  • You must have at least 2 adults in the meeting.  
  • At least 1 adult volunteer must have completed,or be working towards completing, the leader development programme and hold a current Girlguiding disclosure check (DBS/Access NI/PVG).   
  • At least 1 leader, assistant leader, or leader in training must have an up to date a safe space level 3. 
  • Any volunteer who doesn't need a disclosure check for their role must be supervised by someone with a current Girlguiding disclosure check. 

You might want to run a breakout session in your online group.  

In each breakout group, you'll need to have at least 1 adult present. They must be a registered Girlguiding volunteer like a unit helper or a leader. Parent helpers don’t count.  

As always, you shouldn’t have 1 adult with 1 young person alone, in any activity, including breakout rooms. Make sure you end the call and tell the unit leader if this happens.

Activities and events outside of your usual meeting place

Trips outside your usual meeting space must have: 

  • Rainbows: 1 adult for every 5 children with a minimum of 2 adults.  
  • Brownies: 1 adult for every 8 children with a minimum of 2 adults.  
  • Guides: 1 adult for every 12 children with a minimum of 2 adults. 
  • Rangers: 1 leader with a recommended second adult.  

Many activities from our adventures for girls finder have specific ratios you must follow for safety reasons. Search for the activity you're planning to do in the finder and click on the 'planning and safety' tab to find out exactly how many adults you need. 

Ratios for events and residentials can be found on our events and going away pages.