Adult to child ratios

Avoid any safety issues by having the right number of adults present at your meeting

There are different adult to child ratios for different situations.

The ratios change depending on:

  • The location of the meeting or activity
  • The type of activity
  • Whether children of volunteers are present

Read this page carefully to make sure you have the right number of adults to supervise children.

Meetings in your usual meeting place

Girlguiding suggests the following adult to child ratios for normal unit meetings within the usual meeting place. Unit leadership teams are not required to follow them – except in the case of Rainbow units, who must always have two adults at every meeting.

 

  Suggested minimum unit size Suggested unit size Suggested maximum unit size Suggested ratio of adult to girls  Mandatory ratio 
 
Rainbow units 5 12-15 18 1:5 Minimum of 2 adults irrespective of the size of the unit.
 
Brownie units 12 12-18 24 1:8 N/A
 
Guide units 12 12-30 36 1:12 N/A
 
Rangers  5 N/A N/A N/A N/A
 

View the meetings adult to child ratio table as an image

It is recommended that there are a minimum of two adults present at each unit meeting. This is to ensure that there are an adequate number of adults to keep girls safe and respond effectively in the case of an emergency.

Online guiding and virtual meetings 

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

  • You must have at least two adult volunteers in the meeting. 
  • At least one adult volunteer must have, or be working towards, their Leadership qualification and a current disclosure check (DBS/Access NI/PVG).  
  • At least one adult volunteer must have completed Level 3 of A Safe Space training
  • Any volunteer who doesn't need a disclosure check for their role must be supervised by someone with a current disclosure check. 

Break out groups 

You might want to run break out sessions in an online group meeting as you would in your regular face-to-face meeting. 

In each smaller break out group, you'll need to have at least one adult present. They must be a volunteer who holds at least a unit helper role. 

For instance, you can have one leader with three young members. But it isn’t acceptable to have one adult with one young person alone, in any activity. If this happens please ensure you end the communication and inform the unit leader. 

Activities and events outside of the meeting place

Adult to child ratios become mandatory when:

  • An activity starts and finishes away from the normal meeting place
  • You undertake certain activities

Many activities have specific ratios that must be adhered to for safety reasons. These ratios can be found on our activity pages – simply search for the activity you're planning to do 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.

Do volunteers under 18 count as adults or children?

  • Young leaders are members of Rangers and there is no required adult to child ratio for members of Rangers. However, they do not count as adults if they are under the age of 18.
  • Guides who are Rainbow helpers or Brownie helpers must be counted as children using the Guide unit adult to child ratios when taking a unit away from the meeting place.

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 cannot be arranged and they should check with their local commissioner first.

This situation does not 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 her 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 cannot 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)

View the adult to child ratio for children of volunteers table as an image

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

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