I have been very concerned to hear that the Allemuir outdoor education base is to close when Lothian Region disaggregates, so that the new City of Edinburgh authority will not have the resource for the benefit of both children in schools and the community at large.
Although the loss of the urban outdoor base will be a severe blow to the many groups and individuals who benefit from the provision of equipment and the expertise of the staff, particularly children from less affluent homes, I wish to warn of what could be an even more serious loss to the city.
At present, the overall safety of proposed outdoor ventures from schools is monitored by the senior member of staff at Allemuir, ensuring that children in Lothian are being conducted on reasonable undertakings, with appropriate equipment and by suitably qualified and experienced staff.
It is a considerable fear of mine that, once this service is lost, many heads of schools in the city will have not senior person competent in this sphere of work to whom they can apply for such advice.
In many cases this may well result in the cancellation of outdoor education activities from schools, in spite of these being an element in the national curriculum guidelines and, therefore, a required part of children's education.
Such a loss of 'safety cover' is likely to both reduce the general level of safe practice in the many outdoor ventures which will still be undertaken by groups from city schools and also expose the city authorities to severe criticism in the event of a major incident.
In view of this, I would be grateful if, in spite of the sad loss of the many stimulating and exciting possibilities for young people provided by the staff at Allermuir, the new city education authority could assure parents and heads that they will retain effective safety monitoring of outdoor ventures by a competent person, a vital safeguard for children and for schools.
Former senior lecturer, outdoor education Moray House Institute of Education