Outdoors, it isn't raining money

13th August 2004 at 01:00
It might be thought a touch curmudgeonly that, when pound;87 million is thrown in your direction, you still complain that the support you have been given is insufficient. But such is the world of outdoor education (page four). Perhaps they are not used to the largesse: after all, theirs was the unhappy lot to be targeted throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s (along with repairs and maintenance spending) when education authorities came looking for cuts in their budgets.

Of course, pound;87 million is a lot of money. But spread across 32 local councils and over three years, it becomes a more modest pot ranging from pound;12.9 million in Glasgow to pound;450,000 for the islands. When further restrictions are imposed, the generosity is additionally trimmed.

Of the pound;35 million spend allocated to activities as opposed to capital projects, for example, 40 per cent must go on each of two strands - out-of-school-hours programmes and anti-crime steps. Only the remaining 20 per cent is at the discretion of authorities to be shared between the two.

So outdoor education can complain. This is especially so given that the Executive is increasingly relying on the contribution of, the voluntary and private sectors to help schools deal with disaffected pupils. All the evidence suggests outdoor education is a key factor in this process. But, as John Hall so rightly says, all pupils should have an entitlement - which is where funding matters. The last thing outdoor education needs is to be seen as a repository just for the troubled and the troublemaker.

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