Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance
The artistic heart of West Cornwall's history

Planning a visit to Penlee House

Group Leaders Handbook


This guide has been produced by Safety UK, appointed Health & Safety advisors to Penzance Town Council and Penlee House. The purpose of this handbook is to provide practical information that might be helpful to group leaders and others whilst taking part in an educational visit to Penlee House Gallery and Museum.

The guide does not seek to replace local or other professional guidance or regulations. Community and voluntary controlled schools should follow LEA guidance as a first recourse. Each educational establishment visiting Penlee House are responsible for undertaking their own risk assessment in accordance with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

This guide includes advice on supervision, ongoing risk assessment, emergency procedures, and some specifics relating to the visit.


Penlee House is located in Penlee Park, which can be accessed on foot from Morrab Road, Alverton Street and Alexandra Road.

Details concerning parking arrangements are contained later in this guide.



The Group leader is responsible overall for the group at all times. In delegating supervisory roles to other adults in the group, it is good practice for the group leader to:

  • allocate supervisory responsibility to each adult for named pupils;
  • ensure that each adult knows which pupils they are responsible for;
  • ensure that each pupil knows which adult is responsible for them;
  • ensure that all adults understand that they are responsible to the group leader for the supervision of the pupils assigned to them;
  • ensure that all adults and pupils are aware of the expected standards of behaviour.

It is good practice for each supervisor to:

  • have a reasonable prior knowledge of the pupils including any special educational needs, medical needs or disabilities. In the event that the visiting party includes special needs or disabled pupils please advise Penlee House in writing at the time of booking the visit;
  • carry a list/register of all group members;
  • directly supervise the pupils, this is particularly important when they are mingling with the public and may not be easily identified;
  • regularly check that the entire group is present;
  • have a clear plan of the activity to be undertaken and its educational objectives;
  • have the means to contact the group leader/other supervisors if needing help;
  • have prior knowledge of the venue – the group leader should normally have made an exploratory visit;
  • anticipate a potential risk by recognising a hazard, by arriving, where necessary, at the point of hazard before the pupils do, and acting promptly where necessary;
  • continuously monitor the appropriateness of the activity, the physical and mental condition and abilities of the group members and the suitability of the prevailing conditions;
  • be competent to exercise appropriate control of the group, and to ensure that pupils abide by the agreed standards of behaviour;
  • clearly understand the emergency procedures and be able to carry them out
  • have appropriate access to First Aid;

Each pupil should:

  • know who their supervisor is at any given time and how to contact him or her;
  • have been given clear, understandable and appropriate instructions;
  • rarely if ever be on their own;
  • alert the supervisor if someone is missing or in difficulties;
  • have a meeting place to return to, or an instruction to remain where they are, if separated;
  • understand and accept the expected standards of behaviour.

'Buddy' system

It is recommended that each child is paired with a buddy. Each regularly checks that the other is present and is OK. A variant of this is the 'circle buddy' system – the pupils form a circle at the start of the visit so that each pupil has a left side buddy and a right side buddy. He or she will check on these when asked. Thus two pupils cannot vanish together and not be missed (as might happen with paired buddies).


A driver cannot safely drive and supervise children at the same time. Group leaders should ensure that:

  • transport by road has seat belts and that the pupils wear them;
  • there is adequate supervision at all times when travelling;
  • supervisors are reserved seats that allow them to supervise properly
  • pupils are supervised when boarding and leaving;
  • extra care is taken when leaving a vehicle in a country that drives on the right as some doors may open onto the road side;
  • standards of behaviour are met, and in particular that drivers are not distracted
  • smoking/alcohol etc. bans are observed;
  • pupils are occupied on long journeys – this will help the journey pass quickly;
  • evacuation procedures are clearly understood by everyone, luggage is securely stored and emergency exits are kept clear;
  • there are adequate rest stops for drivers;
  • head counts are carried out when the group is getting off or onto transport.

If travelling by car the Penlee House Pay and Display Car Park is accessed from Alverton Street. The short walk from the bottom of the car park to Penlee House is sign-posted and follows a path through the park.

There is limited parking for disabled badge holders and for minibuses immediately outside Penlee House Gallery and Museum which is accessible from the Morrab Road entrance to Penlee Park. (Please request the use of this facility at the time of booking) Coaches can also use this entrance as a drop-off point; coach parking is available at Wherrytown along Promenade Road.

Ongoing Risk Assessment

The group leader (and other adults with responsibility) prepares ongoing risk assessments while the visit is taking place. These normally consist of judgements and decisions made as the need arises. They are not usually recorded until after the visit. They should be informed by the generic and visit or site specific risk assessments.

Behaviour problems, illness or injury

Please note that Penlee House is an extremely popular and often very busy museum and gallery. Unless previously arranged your party will be sharing Penlee House with other visitors and, as a result, good behaviour would be appreciated at all times.

  • poor behaviour may be reduced by ensuring that all pupils are signed up to agreed standards of behaviour before (or at least at the beginning of) the visit;
  • educational visits can be a good opportunity for school staff to get to know pupils away from the confines of the school. But the group leader should resist any temptation to accept lower standards of behaviour. The different hazards that pupils may be exposed to away from the school will require them to observe standards of behaviour that are at least as high as, or higher than, in the classroom;
  • if one adult has to give prolonged attention to one group member, the group leader should reassess the supervisory roles of the other adults to ensure that all members of the group know who is responsible for them. Activities may need to be amended until the other adult returns all of his or her attention to the group;
  • group leaders should trust their own knowledge of the young people and use their own professional judgement;
  • this may include challenging an activity leader where the group leader's knowledge of the group is superior, or intervening to prompt a change of plan.



By their nature, emergencies are usually unexpected, but careful emergency planning can mitigate the trauma of being caught up in an emergency. It is good practice for the group leader to:

  • agree an emergency action plan, which includes 24-hour (i.e. constant cover) contact points at the school/LEA and clear roles for the group leader, school/LEA contact, head teacher e.g. managing media interest, supporting parents of an injured pupil, transport arrangements etc.;
  • ensure that all members of the group know what action to take if there is a problem;
  • hold, or ensure that other adults in the group hold, up-to date competence in first aid and other life saving competence as necessary for the activities;
  • ensure that the first aid kit is properly stocked and;
  • ensure that all pupils' medical needs (e.g. asthma, diabetes, anaphylaxis) are known and that staff are competent to handle;
  • recognise that many of the health problems of pupils on longer visits are caused by lack of food, of liquid or of sleep;
  • ensure that drivers take adequate rest breaks on long journeys;
  • ensure that all pupils understand and follow the code of conduct;
  • practice emergency drills e.g. evacuation of mini-bus;


The following information relates specifically to Penlee House's arrangements for the provision of health and safety to its employees and members of the public visiting the museum and gallery, they may be used as part of the trip organiser's risk assessment.

Safety UK are the appointed Health and Safety Advisors to Penzance Town Council and Penlee House, they act as “competent person” in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Safety UK are a highly reputable and professional firm of Health and Safety Practitioners and have considerable experience in the education sector; their clients include OfSTED, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and numerous public and private schools in addition to clients in all business sectors.

Safety UK have established the following documentation for Penlee House, all of which is regularly reviewed:

  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Health and Safety Training Policy
  • Risk assessments
  • COSHH assessments
  • Manual Handling assessments
  • DSE assessments
  • Various policies and procedures

All employees have received Induction training, training specific to their post and a Health and Safety Handbook, in addition they are made fully aware of the contents of all assessments that affect their particular work.

Safety UK undertake regular inspections and audits of the premises and liaise with management on staff on a regular basis. In addition they investigate all accidents.

In summary it is considered that an effective health and safety management system, which has the commitment of management and staff alike, is operating within Penlee House.

It is considered that there are no significant health and safety issues that will affect organised school trips visiting Penlee House, other than the issues contained in this document. This does not, however, negate the responsibility of the organisers of school trips from undertaking their own risk assessments.


In the event that any member of the party has an accident whilst visiting Penlee House the following action should be taken:

  • Seek first aid treatment from the group leader in the first instance. Penlee House has staff qualified in first aid and are able to assist where required, in addition fully stocked first aid kits are available. Treatment can be provided in a quiet location if required.
  • The accident must be reported to Penlee House management who will contact Safety UK where necessary. Please note this does not preclude reporting the accident through school channels.
  • In the event of a serious injury occurring Penlee House staff will contact the emergency services and/or can arrange transport to the local hospital which is located less than a mile from the museum.


If a child becomes faint or ill please advise museum staff who can arrange for a quiet room to be made available.

Food and Drink

Food and drink may not be consumed when visiting the museum and gallery. In cases where a child may need to eat or drink regularly because of a medical condition such as diabetes, please inform the education staff who will indicate areas of the building where food or drink can be consumed.

The Orangery Café is located in the foyer/reception of the museum serving morning coffee, afternoon teas and lunches. The Café is extremely popular so we regret that it is not possible for packed lunches to be consumed in this area. In good weather Penlee Park is the ideal location for a picnic and it may be possible to arrange for an indoor area to be made available: please enquire when you book your visit.