Industry body welcomes government’s roadmap to restarting Outdoor Education

The industry body for outdoor learning, UK Outdoorshas welcomed the Government’s decision to put a roadmap in place to restart the sector in Easter 2021. 

From next week, UK Outdoors, as part of the newly formed School Travel Sector Stakeholder Group (STSSG), will be working with the Department for Education and building the roadmap for the restart of residentials in Easter 2021. This will include: 

  1. A full framework for the safe reintroduction of domestic residential visits 
  2. Approval of sector COVID-safe protocols 
  3. Public Health England’s scientific guidance 
  4. Interim holiday cancellation insurance 
  5. Raising the profile of outdoor education’s positive contribution to children’s wellbeing across Government Departments and External Organisations 

UK Outdoors also welcomes the recognition of the contribution of outdoor education in the Government’s updated guidance, which stated: we recognise the enormous benefits overnight residential educational visits can provide and the expertise and skills of those working in this sector that enable students to benefit from those visits.” 

By the time of restarting, the outdoor education sector will have gone for over a year with no meaningful revenue, unlike almost every other industry in the UK through this pandemic. mc 1

Unfortunately, over 6,000 permanent jobs have already been lost, with some centres and the other 9,000 jobs still at risk without additional support. UK Outdoors will be making representations to government about the extent of those at risk and proposing options for further support for some centres. 

Andy Robinson, CEO of the Institute of Outdoor Learning, commented on the Easter restart: “The Government are clearly listening and having a target for restart is positive. I am hugely encouraged that we have put in place an open and collaborative process for getting the industry going. It is also great to see an acknowledgement of the value and expertise our sector brings to education provision in this country.  Some centres are still at risk and we must look at the best way to support them, but for many I hope this news will provide clear light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel and give more certainty to our clients and beneficiaries.” 

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “The potential loss of outdoor education could have a profound impact on the education and mental wellbeing of the nation’s young people, particularly after the challenging year that they have just endured. Today’s decision is a big step forward on the road to saving that provision and securing the benefits it can deliver for future generations of children.” 

Recent campaigning work from outdoor education centres across the country and #saveoutdoored campaign has highlighted the plight of outdoor education centres in the UK.  

A newly formed Parliamentary group of MPs, the APPG for Outdoor Learning led by Tim Farron MP and Robin Millar MP, has also supported the campaign to restart the outdoor education sector and residential visits. 

UK Outdoors represents over 5,000 organisations and individuals providing formative educational experiences for schools and students both domestically and overseas. The industry contributes over £700m to the economy every year, and employs over 15,000 people around the UK. 

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About Author: Ellie Adshead