Save Outdoor Education Centres

Post covid we are told to prepare for a new normal. Many Governments are looking towards a green recovery, rewarding viable jobs and businesses that are prepared for this new future. However we are in danger of losing outdoor education provisions for our young people and few would argue that this is a change for the better. Viable jobs and a valuable sector made into zombie businesses through the Government not allowing educational overnights.

So far since March 2020 1.5 million young people have missed out on outdoor residential trips. These residentials provide life skills such as resilience, social awareness and adaptability all of which have been tested since the pandemic started. A connection to nature through time in the outdoors is seen as a vital first step in helping to tackle the looming climate crisis. Outdoor education is an area AMI members would normally be found using their experience and expertise to help our young people. Instead they are unable to work at a time that wellbeing and mental health are highlighted as key concerns. So why are overnights prevented? It is difficult to know when the Department of Education has offered no science behind their decision. If centres took one school bubble they would be isolated from the other year groups and any out of school mixing, so seemingly giving a week of covid safety rather than risk to these particular pupils. The overnights can be socially distanced and compared to the usual classroom interaction would be less of a concern for viral transmission. The guidance doesn’t even differentiate for your local Bronze DofE expedition camping in school grounds, which is also prevented from taking place.

The current lockdowns of course don’t help trying to build a constructive dialogue with the Government on pupil outdoor residentials. However most schools take 6-12 months to prepare for a residential and schools would normally be launching trips now for summer 2021. Without guidance they are instead being forced to cancel these summer trips, let alone considering anything before then. This is why educational residential centres can’t wait until after the latest lockdown, they need to know how they can operate in this pandemic like the many other sectors already do.

“So far since March 2020 1.5 million young people have missed out on outdoor residential trips.“ Our request to the Government is to provide guidance on school overnights based on current scientific advice. We believe Head teachers are in the best position to risk assess overnights themselves, along with responsible accommodation providers, having already been given the same responsibility when opening their school.

What can you do to support this request to Government for guidance on school overnights?

Please sign our Parliament Petition - Please write to your MP using asking them to support outdoor education by joining the new outdoor learning All Party Parliamentary Group. Currently there are no Scottish MP’s that have joined.

Support through social media @saveoutdoored Interact with the tag #SaveOutdoorEd

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