Where is cash to train trip leaders?

24th October 2003 at 01:00
Your two correspondents on the subject of educational trips ( TES, October 10) missed a key factor in the few but well-publicised accidents: the training of leaders.

It is a sad fact that while the Government issues reams of "guidance" on outdoor activities and visits for schools, there is no consistent funding for those who wish to train and qualify as leaders of such activities.

Individual learning accounts? No - abruptly closed in 2001.

Lottery funds for outdoor and adventurous activities? No - all spent on 16-year-olds at risk of dropping out, with nothing on new leaders who might sustain that experience.

Adult and Community Learning Fund? No - currently suspended.

European-funded EQUAL programme? No - despite the fact that ethnic minorities are barely represented in the outdoor industry.

PE and Sport in Schools (budget of which has 5-10 per cent which should go to outdoor education)? No - all spent on major capital projects with nothing for the staff or revenue costs that really would make a difference to the disadvantaged.

Learning and skills councils? No - they only fund large organisations such as colleges because contract arrangements are too time-consuming to include smaller, specialist providers.

It does not take much research to establish that outdoor activities run by nationally qualified leaders (usually under an Adventure Activities Licence) have a far better safety record than others. Why then, is the health and safety of young people so largely a matter of willing volunteers paying for their own training costs?

Greg Morse 103 Links Road Cullercoats North Shields Tyne and Wear

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