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Kids Outdoors - Image - courtesy of Phil Thompson, Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre

Image - courtesy of Phil Thompson, Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre

 

 

UK Outdoors creates one voice and the best support for individuals and organisations in the outdoor learning and adventure world.

 

 

UK Outdoors is the industry body for outdoor learning, representing over 5000 individuals and organisations in the outdoor & environmental education and adventure world.

 

 

Outdoor learning changes lives and provides opportunities for all students, regardless of background. The sector holds a pivotal role in supporting schools to develop students’ social and mental health wellbeing through adventure and engagement with the natural environment.

 

 

The outdoor learning sector delivers formative educational experiences to at least 5m students across the UK every year. The sector provides over 15,000 jobs and £700m to the UK economy.

 

 

For media enquiries please contact media@ukoutdoors.org.uk

 

 

News/Updates

Our campaign to restart our sector continues to gather pace, recognition and political support and your continued actions and campaigning on social media, letter writing and everything else has been invaluable. As we continue to ratchet up the pressure, I have a brief update for you and some further actions that will help the campaign immeasurably.

How you can support the campaign

As the Review looks to report, we need one big push from our centres and providers to show the value of outdoor ed and the importance of changing the guidance. On top of your already fantastic work, we ask that you do one or both of the below:

  1. Write to your MP asking them to join the APPG

    I have attached a short template letter that can be used by centres or providers to contact their local MP and push for further action and support. Please send this as soon as possible. if you require any help or additional information please do not hesitate to ask.

  2. Post your support on social media

    I have provided some draft tweets below for use on social media, building on the brilliant work of the #saveoutdoored campaign.

    Please ensure that, as we build political pressure, you @ your local MPs to encourage them to support the campaign or pressure the Government.

    Tweet/Post 1 (include picture/infographic/RT of choice)

    Outdoor education is under threat. We need to save our centres and give children a chance to enjoy the great outdoors with its unlimited health benefits.

    Please @localmp help @localcentre and support @robinmillar (full handle required) and @timfarronmp (full handle required) Outdoor Learning APPG as we look to restart outdoor education.

    #saveoutdoored

    Tweet/Post 2 (include picture/infographic/RT of choice)

    We have to act now to save our outdoor education centres. The Government must let schools and children take advantage of the great outdoors.

    @localMP please support your local centre and community

    Change the guidance. Save Outdoor Education

    #saveoutdoored

DfE Review Update

The Department for Education Review of current guidance has been underway for the past two weeks and is due to provide its advice to the Secretary of State a the start of next week. In line with the Department’s timetable we are expecting a decision before the end of November.

While we have been encouraged by the willingness of the Department to openly discuss issues with current guidance and explore the route forward, we remain cautious on an immediate restart. The conversation has focussed on putting in place an effective roadmap for the sector to reopen safely early next year. The Department understand our sector’s issues and a significant part of any move forward will be around providing confidence to and communication with schools. To that end, the Department are creating an active working group with members of the sector and key officials to manage the challenges the sector faces.

We are confident that with continued pressure and strong advocacy we can work closely with the Department to deliver the restart we all want. I will update you as soon as we have any indication of a result from the process.

All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Update

The newly formed Outdoor Learning APPG had its first meeting on 4th November 2020. The new group of MPs will be a vital part of our continued effort to persuade Government to change its guidance on residential visits. Furthermore, the group will provide valuable long-term political support to our sector, driving understanding of the value of outdoor learning and seeking a more formal role for outdoor learning within education.

The group will now be making representations to the Department for Education regarding this guidance as part of the review and are seeking a ministerial meeting.

The APPG membership currently includes the below MPs. If your local MP is not a member please encourage them to join and support our campaign to Save Outdoor Education.

Robin Millar MP

Tim Farron MP

Richard Drax MP

Jessica Morden MP

Hywel Williams MP

Nusrat Ghani MP

Duncan Baker MP

Virginia Crosbie MP

Neil Hudson MP

Simon Baynes MP

Liz Savile Roberts MP

I would like to thank UK Outdoors and Plas Y Brenin for their work to date on this and hope we keep up the pressure.

As ever, if you have any questions on the campaign please do not hesitate to get in touch with us on info@ukoutdoors.org.uk

Andy Robinson
IOL CEO

Tim Farron said "Outdoor education centres help young people's mental health, confidence and learning, but many are on the brink of collapse partly because of the Government's ban on schools running residential trips. Glad that today the Health Secretary agreed to my request to review that ban.Outdoor education centres help young people's mental health, confidence and learning, but many are on the brink of collapse partly because of the Government's ban on schools running residential trips. Glad that today the Health Secretary agreed to my request to review that ban."

Tim's video, can be seen on Twitter, of his call to the Secretary of State for Education, in Parliament, to review the ban on residential school visits and change the DfE advice.

Matt Hancock agreed to review the ban on educational overnight stays with Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education.

We very much hope that the review makes the change to allow the sector to reopen this vital aspect of outdoor learning.

The DfE review of guidance to schools on overnight visits started last week with the arrangement of meetings for this week between sector representatives and DfE staff. Staff at DfE are taking this very seriously and will spend the first part of the review gathering information and understanding the position of the sector on several key issues. We expect this review to be complete and to inform a report for the Secretary of State before the end of November. A very important aspect of this review is a sector rebuttal of the PHE position on the covid-safety of overnight visits to outdoor centres.

There has been considerable MP support for our campaign and we're happy to announce that an All Party Parliamentary Group on Outdoor Learning is to be set up. In the short term of course the focus is on saving the residential outdoor education provider base but this is a very significant development for Outdoor Learning more widely and in the long term. The APPG will be chaired by Robin Millar MP with vice chair Tim Farron MP and several others.

We have put together updated materials for you to use in communications this week.

  1. Response to the PHE position (ie the 5 points that we all received in reply to letters to MPs). This should support your conversations with the media and provide consistency in messaging.
  2. A template letter to your MP that provides an update on the DfE review (now started), an update on the formation of the APPG for Outdoor Learning and information on how they can support and where to find our petition, social media campaign, etc. Please use this to write afresh to your MP.
  3. A trustee outreach letter template. Do please use this to leverage the support of your trustees, patrons and high profile supporters.

Thank you all very much for applying continued pressure as we move into the DfE review and a huge thank you to the #saveoutdoored team for ongoing and developing social media narrative.

The sector is continuing discussions with Government on the restarting of overnight educational visits. The Government has agreed to a formal review of the current guidance in November 2020, with a view to a managed, safe and Covid-secure return in 2021. The review will provide an opportunity for the whole sector to engage with Government departments and relevant agencies to inform the review, address any remaining barriers and ultimately reopen educational visits.

As valued customers and service users, we would welcome schools support, too, in further stressing the importance of educational visits. Ensuring all children and young people can benefit from these rich and varied educational experiences is imperative to helping students, schools and the education sector recover from Covid.

£2 million package of support.

The Scottish Government will provide £2 million of funding to mitigate the financial challenges facing the residential outdoor education sector as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

The package will include funding to help centres provide safe, impactful outdoor learning experiences to support young people’s education and wellbeing through this challenging period.

Help for residential outdoor education centres

 

Press/Media

The following letter, published in The Telegraph online, is the result of the CEO of Tall Ships Youth Trust, Richard Leaman, approaching William Hague and asking for his support.

Could you consider influential people you know who might feel passionately about the loss of outdoor learning benefits and ask them to speak out?

UK Outdoors will shortly be publishing a proforma letter for individuals and organisations to send to sponsors, patrons, trustees, supporters etc. to make things easier to approach potential influential champions.

Telegraph Online
Depriving young people of the great outdoors is an utter tragedy
William Hague
19 October 2020 21:30

Rules restricting the work of outdoor education charities are only adding to the great cost of lockdown Living as I do in the rolling hills of mid Wales, I have something to look forward to when I finish writing this column. I will stretch my legs in the woods behind my house, look out for animals preparing for winter, breathe in some wonderfully fresh air, and, from the top of the nearest hill, gaze across to distant Snowdonia. Like other people fortunate enough to live in the countryside during the pandemic, I find the daily enjoyment of it to be inspiring, reassuring, and an essential part of keeping life in perspective.

The benefits to the human brain of the outdoors and nature have always been apparent, but are now recognised by science. A recent study supported by the University of Exeter Medical School found “strong and consistent benefits for mental health and well-being … from exposure to natural environments”. It found that socio-economic inequality in mental well-being “has been shown to be narrower among those who report good access to green or recreational areas”.

So persuasive has this and other evidence become that the Government has announced a pilot project on “green social prescribing” to work out how to use nature to tackle mental ill health. Funding is also being provided for other work on helping people after the pandemic which includes “healthy cooking, wildlife gardening, beekeeping” and many other outdoor activities.

This is all modestly encouraging, and we might dare to hope that it is the beginning of a realisation that we need to bring thriving nature back into towns and cities and allow our countryside to recover from the devastation of misguided agricultural policies. But in the meantime, a reasonable person might imagine that we could at least try to combat the massive risks of rising mental health problems and educational inequality in lockdowns by getting more young people out into that great outdoors.

The horrifying fact, however, is that we have been doing the exact opposite – closing down the entire sector of outdoor education and experiences that each year delivers immense benefits for tens of thousands of young people. According to the trade body UK Outdoors, since March children and young people have missed out on one and a half million educational visits. They say that if this continues, the sector stands to lose half its capacity permanently, with 6,000 jobs already lost. While hotels, boarding schools and hostels have been able to open during the summer, outdoor education centres have been forced to remain closed.

It will be an utter tragedy if we emerge from the pandemic with a new consciousness of the need for such experiences, only to find we have lost a large part of the provision for them. The way to avert that is not to give even more bailouts, but to get this particular sector up and running as soon as possible, with some sensible precautions, for the work that it does is desperately needed.

Take as an example the Tall Ships Youth Trust, an excellent charity that takes vulnerable and disadvantaged young people on week-long sailing trips. There is a good deal of evidence that this charity’s work has major positive effects on the youngsters involved, sometimes to a life-changing extent. The vast majority say afterwards that they are better at team working, communication, and managing their feelings, and that their confidence and self-esteem is improved. One study of the Tall Ships’ work with 80 unemployed young people saw 98 per cent of them go on into employment, education and training. Personal testimonies include 16-year-olds from violent and drug-addicted families whose lives and prospects have been turned around. Yet now, just when people need such help more than ever, every boat of the Tall Ships is tied up in Portsmouth Harbour. The teenagers who ought to be learning to sail, pulling on the ropes, experiencing the power of teamwork and feeling the exhilaration of being on the sea, are stuck instead in lonely or damaging situations.

This particular organisation has made every effort to ensure that safe bubbles of young people and staff could be created, and is prepared to invest in the new, more rapid tests that are steadily becoming available. But the current guidance is that only day trips can be undertaken to outdoor centres, which immediately makes the vast majority unviable or of little benefit.

Tall Ships are one example, but it is a story replicated across many other successful charities. The Children’s Trust offer short breaks for children with brain injuries and neurodisabilities; Free to be Kids take young people struggling with social and emotional difficulties on adventures in the countryside; the Honeypot Children’s Charity gives respite breaks for young carers in the New Forest – these are just some of a wide range of outstanding organisations whose residential courses have now been shut down for many months.

Do we actually need to stop young people who are at little risk of serious illness from being out together in the mountains and on the sea? And even if we accept there is some risk to the adults who supervise them, can’t we trust them to minimise that risk while maintaining their remarkable work?

Of course, with the current resurgence of Covid, and the intense debates about local lockdowns and circuit-breakers, opening up this vital sector will not be on the minds of political leaders. But the day will come soon when there is sufficient confidence in new, quicker tests to allow for people to be told about things they can do rather than always hearing of what they can’t. In the coming weeks, outdoor education and training should be ranked as a necessary part of keeping schooling going, and be allowed to open up as much as the change of season permits.

Whatever restrictions are necessary this autumn, we should remember at all times the mounting human cost of lockdowns and try to alleviate them wherever possible. We should prioritise the most vulnerable young people in the country, who are already more badly affected than their peers. Unless we do, there will be no “levelling up” – only higher mental illness rates, increased youth offending and more crime. It is time, very soon, to say that the balance of risk favours allowing some outstanding charities and businesses to do what our society desperately needs them to do.

UK Outdoors Logo

 

Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1 Horse Guards Road
London
SW1A 2HQ

13th October 2020

Dear Chancellor,

Outdoor Education – Access to enhanced Job Support Scheme

UK Outdoors has repeatedly made clear to Government the damaging impact of its current guidance against residential educational visits on our sector, including at-risk sites within your constituency of Richmond. The guidance has left the outdoor education sector open but with only <1% of historic trading levels, in essence a ‘zombie sector’. Though not able to trade meaningfully, as a result of Government guidance, we will also not be eligible for the enhanced Job Support Scheme (“eJSS”). We urge you to provide our sector a valuable lifeline, by simply extending access to the eJSS, to protect jobs, businesses and livelihoods across the UK.

The Job Retention Scheme has kept our educationally vital sector alive but we have still suffered significant job losses as our revenues have been crippled. Providers up and down the country, regardless of size, are under threat. Over 3,000 have lost their jobs with 3,000 more expected before the new year. As we remain open with severely limited revenue, the Job Support Scheme is unworkable and unaffordable for the majority of the sector, with providers even being unable to cover or justify the lower cost of employees with little to no work for them to undertake.

Access to the eJSS would help the sector maintain jobs and build towards a meaningful opening next year, especially as the Government have committed to reviewing the guidance in November. The expanded Job Support Scheme already includes provision that extends access beyond premises that are legally closed, such as restaurants operating takeaway or delivery services. Our sector is in similar position to those exceptions with far more severely impacted revenue as a result of Government restrictions. Extending access to the eJSS for the outdoor education sector would ensure such a vital sector survives this pandemic and can significantly contribute to the social and economic recovery of this country and its schoolchildren.

We understand that every job and every business cannot be saved. However, our sector’s businesses are viable economic, social, educational and community contributors that could operate safely and with confidence – like similar parts of the education sector, such as boarding schools - without the Government’s punitive and unnecessary restrictions.

We have always focussed on self-help. We know that if the Government amended its guidance to schools over educational visits we could self-start and ensure that business and jobs remained intact. While the Government guidance remains in place, the sector cannot support itself. We need the effective support of the eJSS while we are restricted.

If nothing is done, the country stands to lose a vital £700m education industry with over 15,000 jobs. A whole sector of education is at risk as a result of Government guidance.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your team to discuss access to the eJSS or welcome you to a centre in your constituency to see the issues and challenges we are facing first hand.

Yours sincerely,

 

Signatories - Rishi Sunak Letter 13-10-2020

To listen to the UK Outdoors Andy Robinson Interview from Times Radio. Listen from 2:38 minutes.

“You can go to boarding school. You can stay in a hostel dorm. But kids can’t go on their outdoor education visits.”

15,000 jobs at risk and half of outdoor education capacity to be permanently lost as Government continues school travel sector closure

6th October 2020 - Today, UK Outdoors, the industry body for outdoor learning and activities representing 5000 individuals and organisations, is warning that the Government’s continued advice preventing overnight educational visits threatens the future of a proud British industry and cultural asset. Despite boarding schools, hotels and hostels all operating on similar guidelines, the school travel sector has been closed by Government since March.

If no action is taken and no support is provided this academic year the sector stands to lose all its 15000 jobs and nearly half its capacity permanently, decimating a vital British industry. The inaction over guidance on travel and overnight visits for educational settings has already cost businesses, from small independent trip providers and local authority centres to larger organisations, an estimated £500m in lost revenue and over 6000 job losses. Since March, children and young people have missed out on over 1.5m educational visits.

Outdoor education is part of British culture with over 2m children a year taking part. It is a vital resource for all schools to allow children to develop their social and teamworking skills in a friendly and safe environment. More so for the thousands of inner city schools, students and parents for whom outdoor education is a lifeline.

With Spring term fast approaching, the sector desperately needs certainty and guidance in place for a phased reopening to protect jobs, businesses and vital community assets that could be lost forever. The sector is calling on the Government to review the guidance in November, in line with recognised science and health and safety protocols, and lay out a roadmap for the reopening of the school travel sector.

Andy Robinson, Chief Executive of Institute for Outdoor Learning (“IOL”) and Member of UK Outdoors, said: “Outdoor education and adventure is engrained in our DNA. It is part of British education. Every child’s first trip away from home is such an important and formative experience. We cannot just let the industry fall by the way side through negligence and ignorance. The Government to act to protect the industry and ensure its reopening in time for the Spring term or face an economic, social and cultural disaster.”

Health and safety is a priority for the school travel sector. It has continuously reassured Government that it is safe to operate, meeting and exceeding all relevant Government guidelines. Collectively, the sector has developed robust COVID-safe guidelines for providers as well as a detailed COVID protocols handbook for Government and public health authorities. All providers have undertaken to, amongst other initiatives, reduce capacity to meet guidelines, maintain social bubbling – a key Government policy - and increase staffing.

Jim Whittaker, Chair of Association of Heads of Outdoors Centres (“AHOEC”) and UK Outdoors Member, said: “We have put our heart and soul into meeting every challenge the Government has set. It is a bitter pill to swallow keeping our sites closed while we see hotels, boarding schools and hostels delivering the same overnight experiences unabated. The sector is ready and safe to reopen. We have seen nothing, no science, that contradicts that position. We hope the Government will listen, understand the lengths our sector has gone to in ensuring safety and compliance, and restart the sector.”

UK Outdoors represents over 5000 organisations and individuals providing formative educational experiences for schools and students both domestically and overseas. The industry provides over £700m to the UK economy every year, supporting over 15,000 jobs around the UK.

Media Enquiries
UK Outdoors
Andy Robinson
Jim Whittaker
c/o Montfort Communications

Nick Bastin
bastin@montfort.london
+44 (0) 7931 500 066

Woolf Thomson Jones
woolf@montfort.london
+44 (0) 7376 392 693

Notes to Editors

About UK Outdoors

UK Outdoors is the industry body for outdoor learning, representing over 5000 individuals and organisations in the outdoor & environmental education and adventure world. We deliver one voice and the best support for individuals and organisations throughout the sector.

Outdoor learning changes lives and provides opportunities for all students, regardless of background. The sector holds a pivotal role in supporting schools to develop students’ social and mental health wellbeing through adventure and engagement with the natural environment.

The outdoor learning sector delivers formative educational experiences to at least 5m students across the UK every year. The sector provides over 15,000 jobs and £700m to the UK economy.

The Prime Minister
London
SW1A 2AA

Monday 5th October

Dear Prime Minister,

The school travel sector is facing an existential threat. UK Outdoors represents the thousands of organisations and individuals that deliver outdoor educational experiences, from the small independents and local authority providers to the larger international organisations. Our members are warning that while the Government continues to advise against overnight educational visits the future of outdoor education - a great British tradition - is at risk.

Despite the sector’s continued efforts to prove its safety and preparedness, while boarding schools, hotels and hostels continue to operate, your Government has blocked residential and overnight school trips. The sector needs a roadmap to return and support to ensure it can provide its valuable educational services in the future.

Nearly 3000 jobs have already been lost and many outdoor education facilities have permanently closed as over £500m of revenue has been lost. The recent decision not to review the guidance will cost a further 3,000 jobs before the new year. If there is no change before the Spring term half of outdoor education capacity will be lost permanently alongside over 10,000 jobs. We cannot warn the Government in strong enough terms that any decision to prevent residential trips for the rest of the academic year, without support, will permanently close the whole sector.

The sector accounts for over £700m contribution to the economy and 15,000 jobs in rural areas. We cannot and must not risk permanent damage to a vital and formative educational and cultural asset. Educational visits are a British institution and we cannot let them die.

We would welcome your intervention to set out a roadmap for a phased return of school trips by the Spring term, allowing children, schools and parents across the UK access to valuable outdoor education. To date, despite tireless work from the sector, we have received disappointing engagement with the Department for Education, resulting in no change to guidance. The commitment to a November review of on COVID-safe health and safety he guidance is vital to the future of our sector and provides the Government with the opportunity to act.

With the burden of the sector’s continued existence hinging on that review we are keen that the right processes and frameworks - including proper constructive consultation between the sector, relevant departments and the appropriate public health body - are in place. We believe that the sector, as an industry with a long record of educational contribution and high health and safety standards, deserves an effective, transparent process for its reopening.

Health and safety is a priority for the school travel sector. It has continuously reassured Government that it is safe to operate, meeting and exceeding all relevant Government guidelines. Collectively, the sector has developed robust COVID-safe guidelines for providers as well as a detailed COVID protocols handbook for Government and public health authorities. All providers have undertaken to, amongst other initiatives, reduce capacity to meet guidelines, increase staffing and maintain school bubbling, a vital part of the Government’s guidance for reopening schools.

Our sector has been shut since March, quite unlike any other. The existing guidance has strangled all economic flows through our providers and starved the sector of prospects. Without a reopening or even a roadmap by November, the sector would require considerable support on jobs and revenue to survive. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss support for the sector, in the context of lost revenue to date and in the future as a result of Government guidance, alongside the roadmap to reopening.

It is clear to us that further delays would ruin our sector permanently. For children, parents and schools across the country, and in the future, we implore you to look in detail at our sector’s plight and help find a way forward that secures jobs, business and important educational and cultural assets.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your policy team to discuss the November review and the roadmap for reopening the sector. We have provided copies of this letter to the Department for Education, Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Her Majesty’s Treasury for their interest.

Yours Sincerely

PM Letter Signatories 05-10-2020

 

To listen to the UK Outdoors Andy Robinson Interview from R4’s Farming Today explaining impact of ban on residential school visits. Outdoor Education Residentials starts at 5.00 minutes.

 

 

For information on UK Outdoors organisations click the logos below

 

Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres
Institute for Outdoor Learning
Outdoor Council
British Activity Providers Association