Campaign builds to save outdoor education centres

Half of Scotland's 36 outdoor education centres thought to be in danger of closure after coronavirus shutdown
14th October 2020, 9:28am

Share

Campaign builds to save outdoor education centres

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/campaign-builds-save-outdoor-education-centres
Campaign Builds To Save Outdoor Education Centres

A campaign to save Scotland's outdoor education and residential centres is gaining momentum.

Fears have been expressed that half of them could close by 2021, but a petition has attracted nearly 23,000 signatures and now Scotland's biggest teaching union has thrown its weight behind the campaign.

The EIS has written to the Scottish government to ask them to help save outdoor education and residential centres, and outlined why they are so important to pupils' development and learning.


Coronavirus: Half of outdoor education centres 'could close in 2021'

Opinion: Why we can't allow outdoor education centres to close

Background: Decision not to fund outdoor centres is 'catastrophic'

Outdoor education: Outdoor play officially 'fundamental' to learning

Coronavirus: 'It's time for all schools to head outdoors'


Every year, more than 105,000 young people go on a residential trip to one of the 36 centres in Scotland, but government Covid guidelines mean no residential trips can take place.

Without extra funding soon, the sector predicts that around half of the centres will never reopen. Closures have already been announced by both Girlguiding Scotland (Nertherurd House, in the Scottish Borders), and Abernethy Trust (Ardeonaig, by Loch Tay, and Ardgour in the Highlands), with more expected to shut down permanently before Christmas.

The EIS supports a proposal that staff could be redeployed from such centres to work with schools on outdoor education until residential trips can take place

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "The EIS is supporting the #SaveYourOutdoorCentres campaign because it recognises the importance of these experiences for young people in Scotland."

He added: "Working with staff from outdoor centres would be of mutual benefit to both teachers who are under a huge amount of pressure and also to young people who have missed out on so much over the last few months."

The EIS also highlighted that more than 34,000 young people in Scotland are working their way through the Duke of Edinburgh Award's programme, which requires overnight stays in the countryside and a mastery of outdoor skills.

Katie Docherty, chief executive of Scouts Scotland, on behalf of the Save Your Outdoor Centres campaign, said it was "great" to have the backing of the EIS and that the campaign recognised "the pressure that teachers are facing" during the Covid pandemic.

But she added: "The Scottish government has recommended that more outdoor learning takes place, and with funding, we could redeploy our highly skilled outdoor staff to work in partnership with schools to deliver this."

Meanwhile, MSPs from all parties in Scotland have called for  urgent financial support for the sector and have written to first minister Nicola Sturgeon and her deputy, education secretary John Swinney, asking that they provide the £3 million funding necessary to keep the outdoor centres open for the next six months.

#SaveYourOutdoorCentres is being supported by around 35 organisations so far, including the National Parent Teacher Forum, parents' organisation Connect, Children 1st, Children in Scotland, Youthlink Scotland and the Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland.

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters