Outdoor centres go private

Some west of Scotland pupils from poorer backgrounds may miss out on outdoor education opportunities because authorities can no longer afford to subsidise courses, it was admitted on Wednesday.

Speaking at the launch of the Castle Trust, set up to develop the Ardentinny, Achnamara and Castle Toward centres in Argyll and Bute, Douglas Reynolds, director of property and technical services for the council, said: "That is unfortunately in the short term one of the casualties of the Government's current provision."

The trust has been set up by Argyll and Bute in partnership with East Renfrewshire, Glasgow and Argyll and Islands Enterprise. The centres will be run by a private company, Actual Reality (Scotland). Mr Reynolds said the mainstay of the operation would continue to be the 5-18 age-group but this would not be enough to cover running costs. The centres will therefore be opened to families and individuals in the niche Scottish holiday market.

The cost of a week at any of the centres is Pounds 135 for primary pupils and Pounds 145 for secondary pupils. Weekend stays are Pounds 70 and the standard cost of an activity course is Pounds 35 per day. Meanwhile, Edinburgh City Council is considering launching a trust to preserve its two outdoor centres.

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