Save Outdoor Education Campaign-page-001

UK Outdoors Campaign Brief - Save Outdoor Education

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

Outdoor Education Centres are closing forever due to Government restrictions.

We need your help as an outdoor instructor, teacher, parent, pupil or concerned party. Please write to your MP, follow and share @saveoutdoored #saveyouroutdoorcentres or tweet and sign our petition to Parliament or Scottish petition.

9th October 2020

Save Outdoor Education

Outdoor education is facing an existential threat in the UK. The Government continues to block the reopening of the sector which has been shut since March with no revenue, despite similar businesses such as boarding schools continuing to operate. The sector has met and exceeded all relevant Government guidelines and is set up to deliver as an extension of the school bubble policy that Government have deemed safe to operate.
If there is no change to guidance the sector’s 15,000 jobs are at risk and over half the UK’s outdoor education capacity will be permanently lost. We need your help to save outdoor education and protect this vital educational, community and cultural asset for this and future generations of schoolchildren.
The Government have committed to review the guidance advising against residential outdoor education in November. Whilst we participate in the Review, we are aiming to build political support to ensure that guidance and our sector is reopened in time for the start of 2021.
Our sector is one of a few that has been prevented from any meaningful economic activity. The Government’s decision not to consider reopening prior to January 2021 has already resulted in over 3,000 job losses, with 3,000 more expected before the end of the year. Over half of the sector’s capacity could be permanently lost. The sector has lost over £500m in revenue since the lockdown. Children across the country have been housebound, especially within cities, and are missing out on vital and formative outdoor educational experiences.

 “15 000 Jobs are at Risk, 50% of all outdoor education capacity will be permanently lost”

Our sector is built on health and safety. We have developed extensive COVID-safe protocols that allow the sector to meet and exceed all relevant Government guidance. The sector has taken extraordinary steps to ensure services are delivered with appropriate social distancing, high hygiene levels and as an extension of school bubbles – the key Government policy – whilst providers have offered a range of further protective measures including staggered arrivals and dining and activities, amended activities, reduced capacity accommodation, increased staffing.
The benefits of outdoor education are widely researched and documented, with residential visits widely recognised as the most impactful. Outdoor education is the moment that changes many children’s lives, across the country regardless of background. It brings children in touch with the great outdoors, promoting a love of nature, a sense of adventure and developing social and teamwork skills.
For many children, in cities or towns, the outdoors and the countryside can feel a life away. Outdoor education brings children into a different environment that can provide exceptional educational benefits beyond the classroom and change lives.
How can you help?
We need your support to show Government the damage it is doing to such an important educational asset.
Please write to your local MP, using the template provided, and encourage them to support the save outdoor education campaign by writing to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education. Invite your MP to visit your centre to see first-hand the effects of the guidance.
Please do use the #saveoutdoored on twitter or facebook
Please sign and share our petition to Parliament.
Please remember to refer any national media enquiries to

6th October 2020

“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 needs 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.

May 2019

The #Outdoortogether 2019 conference for SAPOE and AHOEC members is now open for booking.

Learning, sharing, networking and developing with likeminded individuals from across the UK.

The event is being delivered through a joint partnership with the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centre (AHOEC) and Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education (SAPOE).

When: Wednesday, 13 November 2019, 18:00 –Friday, 15 November 2019

Where: sportsscotland National Sports Training Centre Inverclyde, Largs, KA30 8RW

BOOK NOW! There are limited places so book early to avoid disappointment.

Arthog: Conquering fears in the name of fun!

A group of children, aged 10 and 11, gingerly climb the face of the gorge in the foothills of Cader Idris…   Follow this link to read more!

Outdoor Kids Sun Saftey Course

AHOEC is delighted to announce its support of the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code

Outgoing National Chair – Dave Harvey – said “Taking part in adventurous activities outdoors should be an essential part of growing up. Members of the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres are committed to providing these opportunities and raising the awareness of young people about how to carry on doing them safely and enjoyably for years to come. We are proud to support the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code”.

For full information visit the website.

Learning Away

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s project – Learning Away has launched an online pledge system which calls on everyone: schools, teachers, parents, students, residential providers, Initial Teacher Education providers, youth groups and all those working with young people to pledge to work together to provide more and higher quality brilliant residentials.

AHOEC Centres around the United Kingdom have been making their pledges along with all those supporting Brilliant Residentials.

The pledge system supports the #BrilliantResidentials campaign, which promotes and champions school trips with an overnight stay and disseminates the compelling findings of the Learning Away programme, which has produced overwhelming evidence about the numerous positive impacts a residential experience can have on pupils, staff and the wider school community.

AHOEC representatives sit on the Learning Away legacy group with the aims of  increasing the number of residential experiences taking place and to increasing the overall quality of the residential experience.

The group has already produced summary document combining the outcomes of ‘Learning Away’ and the English Outdoor Councils document ‘High Quality Outdoor Education’.

Pledges are a maximum of 140 characters and are placed on the Learning Away website and can be shared on social media.

Click here to make your pledge now.

Pledging allows schools, organisations and individuals to show their support for the campaign, importantly it also offers an opportunity to ask people to really think about what they will do to provide more and higher-quality residentials using the brilliant residential principles.

You can find out more by downloading the summary document: Brilliant Residentials – their impact on children young people and schools

or by heading over to the Learning Away website

Being active outdoors

The Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres is proud to support the Britain on Foot campaign – Helping you to get active outdoors!

Britain on Foot has been inspiring the public to get active outdoors since 2012. The Outdoor Industries Association created the Britain on Foot campaign to put outdoor activities firmly on both the public and political agendas.

Since then we’ve enjoyed support from the UK outdoor sector, with businesses of all sizes contributing to our programme, encouraging and inspiring people to get active outdoors.

We have also successfully influenced government decision making in sport and recreation, tourism and health. Sport England’s 2016 report ‘Towards an Active Nation’ is proof that the outdoors is now firmly embedded in UK policy-making, and much of that is thanks to Britain on Foot.

Britain on Foot – helping you to get active outdoors

Born Outdoors – Outdoor Citizens

Born Outdoors – ‘Campaign 22’ is being co-ordinated by the Outdoor Council and is supported by their members including AHOEC and Institute for Outdoor Learning.

Spearheaded by Anita Kerwin-Nye, who is an advisor for both Institute of Outdoor Learning and Council for Learning Outside the Classroom and has been commissioned by the Outdoor Council to drive forward Campaign 22.

Anita told AHOEC…

I have spoken much of the role of both residentials and the outdoors in influencing my personal life journey. AHOEC member Hindleap Warren played a big part in my teenage years. The work that I did there determined my choice to study education and to become the first in my family to go to University. The love of canoeing and the outdoors that I developed there became a passport to travelling around the world. And my experiences working with my disabled peers in outdoor learning set my course for a life supporting inclusion.

So, alongside my work supporting the Learning Away #brilliantresidentials Campaign – in which AHOEC play a lead and crucial role – I am delighted to have taken on the challenge of ensuring outdoor learning for all.

Anita runs AKN Consulting and with a team works across the charity and education sector to support organisations that are committed to inclusion. She is a social entrepreneur and incubates campaigns and projects that support all children and young people to access a broad and balanced set of life experiences and learning.

You can see her work at and and follow her at @anitakntweets

Why a campaign?

The benefits of outdoor and adventure learning are well evidenced – for individuals, for families, for communities and for society.

And we know that there is much excellent provision – and AHOEC’s own Gold Standard plays a part in helping secure and recognise this.

But we also know that those who could benefit the most are – as is so often the case – those who access it the least. 2016 Natural England research showed that 1 in 10 children and young people had not been to a park, forest, beach or other natural environment in the last 10 years. Tom Bennett– the government’s advisor on behaviour –has articulated concerns that children are not being exposed to and supported in managing risk. This links to several studies on schools being risk adverse and that Heads are increasingly concerned about financial and professional penalties.

There is though demand. A recent survey commissioned by Bohunt Academy Trust outlines that most adults believe outdoor learning to be important and several recent surveys have called for outdoor learning, school trips and adventure to remain at the core of a rounded experience for children and young people.

And we know it works. Education Endowment Foundation confirms that Adventure Learning in its own right has a positive impact and we know that its impact on meta cognition, team work, communication and ‘resilience’ can be significant. It is a key contribution to what the Department for Education has identified as ‘life skills’.

The evidence tells us that the best outcomes will be achieved with a progressive experience – developing knowledge, skills and passion for outdoor learning from the early years into adulthood. We know what works – our challenge is how to take this to more children and young people in a way that sets up good habits for life long engagement with the outdoors and adventure.

Outdoor Council

Outdoor Council are now launching ‘Born Outdoors to Outdoor Citizens’ – a new campaign to pull together the adventure learning and outdoor sector with a focus on building outdoor learning programmes around every child.

The campaign’s aims are to:

“ensure that the 750,000 four-year olds entering reception classes in September 2022 will be guaranteed high quality outdoor learning throughout their school life and through a rich set of family, youth work and community experiences”.

Outdoor Council want the children born in 2017 to be a generation ‘born outdoors’. We want them to have experiences at every age and stage of their childhood that move them towards being a generation of ‘outdoor citizens’ when they turn 18 in 2035.

This will help create a generation of resilient and healthy adults with a respect for, knowledge of and skills in life outdoors. Who have experience adventures throughout their childhood and understand how to manage risk and challenge. A generation whose academic success has been aided by the impact of effective outdoor learning.  A generation of future parents who know that outdoor education is a must have for their own children. A generation connected to nature in way that benefits their physical and mental well-being. A generation better equipped to address the challenges facing the environment.

In the immediate we working on two specific pieces to support schools and the outdoor and adventure community.

The Institute of Outdoor Learning – with some support from Natural England – have started work on a progression framework for outdoor learning that looks at what a progressive ‘outdoor learning passport’ might look like from a child’s perspective. This is being tested with the outdoor learning sector, parents, young people and schools.
Recognising the import of ensuring that in 2022 this group of children are entering primary schools that need to be equipped to support outdoor learning the Outdoor Council has committed to a specific piece of work on developing the ‘outdoor learning’ primary offer. A scalable model – developed with primary school and education partners – that builds the capacity of every primary school to support high quality outdoor learning.
Born Outdoors will be a key theme of November 2018 Outdoor Learning Conference which will bring together the largest gathering of schools and outdoor learning professionals to consider the next steps in adventure learning for all.

For more information on Born Outdoors you can follow @outdoorcouncil_ on twitter and watch out for updates AHOEC mailings.

Every child born outdoors and every adult an outdoor citizen