21st January 2021
12 Key Points to the Save Outdoor Education Campaign
- 1. Outdoor residentials are as tightly controlled as schools. Safety regulated through AALA licence plus optional LOtC award oversees standards.
- 2. Residential courses run under different structures from expedition camping to centres providing indoor accommodation, a broad decision on overnight advice doesn’t acknowledge these differences. Many centres in the UK are small centres accommodating one class or only part of a school’s year group only.
- 3. Activities are all outside either on private sites or in natural venues. Pre covid the norm anyway was to use venues where no mixing with other groups takes place to give a wild outdoor experience
- 4. If Schools are safe enough to open, then we are safe enough to open with isolated school bubbles..
- 5. Benefits to well being and mental health. “99% of teachers felt pupils were more confident in their own abilities after a trip.” “The positive impact of residential trips is significantly greater for ‘vulnerable’ pupils.” “65% of secondary school students said their teachers had a better idea of how they like to learn.” “Employers want young people who are enthusiastic, confident, creative and resilient – not just exam robots” “The sense of community and the memorability of experiences on residentials helps boost a sense of belonging amongst participants”
- 6. Promoting Active lifestyle. “80% of young people did more exercise than normal on a trip.” “Young people are learning to appreciate the benefits of physical fitness and the lifelong value of participation in healthy active leisure activities.”
- 7. Benefits on connection to nature and environment “62% of children said their visit made them more interested in wildlife and nature” ” …the potential contribution outdoor learning can make to the development of attitudes towards sustainability and a broader ethic of care for the environment is clear and significant.”
- 8. Current Gov funding doesn’t cover all the monthly expenses of residential centres to survive, with most losing 90% or more income since March 2020. Any Welsh Gov funding has been based around lockdowns when hospitality has been closed and not taken into account Gov has advised against overnights for schools since March and is ongoing.
- 9. Centres are closing. So far 15 sites across the UK are permanently closed linked to Covid restrictions with a further 10 long term closures or mothballed. 5 closures not linked to Gov restrictions and 19 under immediate threat due to reviews.
- 10. We need protocols of how we can operate in this pandemic to allow some planning and reassurance to clients.
- 11. Even when we know when we can open centres will struggle financially with possible low take up by parents before confidence grows, paying off debts since March 2020, and with rescheduled courses that have already been paid for. Most centres report that schools want to book when Gov advice changes as they understand the education benefits and trust centres to open safely.
- 12. School Covid insurance needs to be backed by the Government to give schools the confidence to book.
Point 5 Sources – YHA residential school impact survey 2016/17 report; The impact of residential experiences on pupil attainment in year 6 in England 2019; Learning Away – making the case; CBI (2013) First Steps : A new approach for our schools. Point 6 Sources YHA residential school impact survey 2016/17 report; High Quality Outdoor Learning 2015 . Point 7 Impact of School Visits to WWT Wetland Centres; Beth Christie, 2012, The impact of outdoor learning on attitudes to sustainability. Points 10 & 12 are being worked on by the STSSG with DfE.
20th January 2021
Update on Government Lobbying
Financial Support The sector is in desperate need of financial assistance if we are to retain our educational infrastructure that supports Outdoor Learning in the UK. As a sector we are almost unique in having effectively been closed for some 10 months. Though Job Retention Scheme, CBILS, BBLS and a variety of local and national restrictions grants have provided support for some so far, this is clearly not sufficient to ensure the survival of providers that depend upon school residentials especially, as we approach 12 months of effective closure. Sector lobbying priority has been a change to Government guidance with the addition of specific financial support to enable us to work our way through this. However that can no longer be the case. In addition to the progress made in Scotland representatives are now committed to approaching Department for Culture Media & Sport and the Welsh Assembly directly, with detailed financial impact information and a request for funding.
Centre Closures Since Covid 30 centres have closed and a further 20 are under immediate threat. It is clear from recent sector surveys that this was a financially robust sector the restrictions associated with the pandemic are the primary reasons for the temporary or permanent closures.
School Travel Sector Stakeholder Group This working group was formed in December to work with the Department for Education on the roadmap to re-starting residentials. The focus remains on the review by DfE, and on preparing for that, that is to be concluded early March. The spread of the virus, emergence of new variants and the national lockdown now have placed significant pressure and uncertainty on the process. We do, however, recognise that guidance on overnight educational visits can only follow the wider health situation, success of the vaccination programme and the reopening of schools.
APPG Outdoor Learning Robin Millar MP and Tim Fallon MP have been co-chairing the new APPG for Outdoor Learning and it has much support from MPs and parliamentarians. Plas y Brenin is providing the secretariat function and together we are now developing an advisory group to the APPG within UK Outdoors to support this. This is important as it allows us to raise the profile of the urgency and plight of our sector at a parliamentary level as well as build foundations for developing cross-party understanding of our sector and the value it provides.
Save Outdoor Education Campaign #SaveOutdoorEd The media campaign has gained much traction and has been invaluable in providing information and encouraging support from the public for our sector. It has coordinated regional communications, distribution of banners and provided much needed support and communications opportunities for providers. It has led the social media presence and narrative to inform those outside our world of our situation and what is under threat. It’s difficult to see how progress such as the formation and work of the APPG could ever have been made without the concerted efforts of those colleagues who have given their time and commitment despite the effects of the situation on their own businesses.
18th November 2020
Update on Department for Education Review & Outdoor Learning APPG
Review: The Department for Education Review of current guidance has been underway and the department has put their recommendations to the Secretary of State. In line with the Department’s timetable we are expecting a decision before the end of November. We have been encouraged by the willingness of the Department to openly discuss issues with current guidance and explore the route forward. The conversation has focussed on putting in place an effective roadmap for the sector to reopen safely early next year. The Department understands 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 is creating an active working group with members of the sector and key officials to manage the challenges the sector faces. We need you to write to the Secretary of State for Education email@example.com or @gavinwilliamson and urge him to act upon the recommendations from the department.
All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG): 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.
Chair: 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, Chris Loder MP, Megan Hills MP, Jerome Mayhew MP
We cannot wait for residentials to recommence. Children and families need us now. And in the following pages you will find all the ways that we have adapted our services to meet the needs of young people. These case studies show how we have delivered COVID-secure experiences, flexed to new circumstances, and passed on that flexibility to ensure our beneficiaries were not left out of pocket as the situation shifted. Click Here for the Unlimited Access report.
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.
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.
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 www.learningaway.org
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.
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 www.aknconsulting.uk and www.everychildshould.uk 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 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