Outdoor Meets (Covid-19)

This page contains two sections:

Current law, and Practical Advice.

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Current law

The legislation and guidance changes frequently. Please see the home page for details of the current law.

Sign up to get emails when the government adds new coronavirus education and childcare information: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/education-and-childcare

Practical Advice

Please note that during the national restrictions, although EHE is permitted in law, there may be some confusion among police and the general public. See the home page for details.

Overall, you shouldn’t (in theory) be fined or arrested for organising an educational activity as described in the legislation, particularly if there are under 30 people attending. However, you should be prepared to end the activity if the police were to challenge you. If you understand this, then you should be alright to meet. (And again, I’m not responsible for rogue police!)

When arranging an educational activity outside, there are steps you can take to reduce any problems and misunderstandings.

For example:

• Arranging to meet for a genuine educational purpose. In current law, the gathering should be reasonably necessary as part of your child’s suitable full time education as described in the Education Act 1996.

Staying authentic: you have presumably designed your child’s education in good faith, according to the EHE guidance for parents. Experience has shown that trying to bring random extra worksheets to make something “look” educational (or educational in a different way) can make everyone stressed, if that’s not what you would usually do. It’s perfectly legitimate in many educational philosophies that your children need to play freely outside as part of their education.

• Deciding whether you need to limit numbers, depending on the location. As we have seen in recent months, outdoor educational gatherings can quickly become extremely popular.

Setting expectations about the level of supervision by parents/carers, tolerance of damage to nature, etc. A shared sense of responsibility can also help when talking to vigilante passers-by.

• Looking like an organised group (e.g. high vis and/or lanyards) may help. Even setting up a small table to mark your spot, if it’s not a walk. This isn’t to deceive anyone, but helps passers by and police to see at a glance that you are a purposeful group rather than just a group of friends.

Review the legislation and guidance (linked on the home page), so you can easily explain it to anyone who might ask.

• It might be worth knowing that the police have a four step process:

1. Engage

2. Explain

3. Encourage, and only as a last resort

4. Enforce


If they are not happy with the gathering, they are supposed to ask you to disperse before going straight to a fine.

From the Police briefing on the new national lockdown: http://bitly.ws/b3j9

• It might be useful to have an allocated spokesperson for the group who would be confident speaking politely with the police or marshals.

• Following any current COVID-19 precautions such as hygiene, social distancing between adults etc

• Remember that some passers-by may be happy to see children enjoying outdoor educational activities, while others will stare and tut, taking the view that schools should close and the restrictions should be more severe due to anxiety about Covid-19.

This is not a legal position but a (valid) personal opinion. The present site encourages a polite and confident response to such passers by.

If the public engage with you, explaining simply that you are exempt because you are home educating, are an educational group or even a “school group” should reassure them. You do not need to brandish worksheets or explain your curriculum, in the same way that we faced truancy questions pre-Covid.

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Updated 7 May 2021

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Disclaimer: This site is personal interpretation only, not legal advice, and not a substitute for checking the laws directly. It’s also not a “get out of jail free” card if you break the rules and arrange a purely social activity with no educational purpose. It also can’t guarantee you won’t meet a rogue police officer who oversteps their powers. Please decide for yourself!

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