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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Resources and Support for all members of the Outdoor Learning Community

The Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL) advises all members to follow the latest government and local policies regarding coronavirus (COVID-19).


These are difficult times and we are continuing to support our members and ensure that UK and Home Nation Governments are aware of, and respond to, the impact of COVID-19 on all forms of Outdoor Learning. The challenges facing our skilled and passionate workforce may be new, but the capacity to respond, adapt and evolve is built-in to outdoor learning professionals and organisations.


Covid-19 Resource Base



Stay-in-Touch Webinars



Up-skilling During Unplanned Downtime



Advice and Sharing of Good Practice


Our priority is to continue to support our members throughout this difficult period, while looking after the health and wellbeing of all staff. We continue to work across the sector to influence policy makers and defend the sector from disadvantage as a result of COVID-19. We are working for a future where outdoor learning experiences are available and accessible to all and:

  • Outdoor citizens of all ages have a lifelong engagement with the outdoors for their wellbeing and mental and physical health.
  • Inspiration from outdoor sports and adventures supports active lifestyles and the development of character, resilience, personal motivation, and optimism.
  • Meaningful relationships across communities enrich a sense of place, value diversity and spark pro-environmental behaviours.

1. IOL Activity

Sector Impact Surveys

The impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt across all areas of Outdoor Learning. The initial COVID-19 Impact Surveys estimated lost revenue of £275M until mid 2021, and each day over 70,000 under 18s and 20,000 over 18s have been missing out on valuable outdoor learning experiences.

A second sector survey over 2 weeks in July 2020 focussed on the impact felt by organisations. The outdoor learning provider base across the UK is already shrinking and 70% of organisations predict reduced operating capacity unless guidance is changed, with 30% predicting closure or permanently reduced future capacity if residential based provision does not restart until April 2021. 3,550 instructor jobs expected to be permanently or temporarily lost, up to 25% of the workforce.

To date the findings of both survey’s have been used to submit evidence to The Education Select Committee’s review into the impact of COVID-19 on education provision and inform dialogue with The Department for Education focused on changing advise against use of school visits, including those utilising outdoor learning.


Outdoor Learning with Schools

IOL working with others across the sector to influence Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for England and get the DfE guidance on school residential visits changed. Similarly, in Scotland IOL are part of an active campaign to reverse the Scottish Government decision not to support residential outdoor education centres, and are part of the Outdoor Alliance in Wales who are representing the concerns from our sector with Welsh Government. Follow progress here.

The Supporting Schools page outlines the immediate, medium and longer-term support IOL Members can offer schools to help pupils benefit from outdoor learning experiences for academic achievement, mental and physical health, wellbeing and nature connection.


IOL Webinar Series

Since the beginning of lockdown we have hosted over 1600 attendees to over 160 FREE webinars hosted by IOL Members. The webinar hosts have inspired, discussed (issues, research and theory), shared tips or good practice and supported others. We'd like to give a big THANK YOU to all the hosts - you've been amazing!

FREE WEBINARS continue as part of the IOL membership benefits and a valued source of ongoing CPD, specific topic discussions or Regional/Home Nation network and support.

Could you host a webinar? We know that IOL Members have unique and varied experience and interests that they can share by hosting a webinar. Is there something which you would like to share with other members through a webinar? We can set up all the tech so all you have to do is turn up and chat with fellow professionals. We’d love to hear from you.

2. IOL Events

Inline with government advice we have now cancelled all in-person IOL events for the coming months. Many events are moving to online meetings and we are in the process of adjusting plans and informing delegates, speakers and partners of any changes.

The UK Outdoor Learning Sector Conference planned for November 2020 has been postponed. We remain hopeful that we will be in a position to join together as a community in 2021 to reflect on the impact of COVID-19 and the critical importance of Outdoor Learning as the UK recovers and rebuilds.

We will keep the website updated with information on all IOL events, and will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates. Please check the website regularly and follow the IOL Twitter feed

3. IOL Office

At the IOL office we are following the latest government advice and balancing working from home with working in the office to continue our influencing activity and to provide you with all our current on-line services and resources. Please contact us on our usual email addresses or

We are still very much open for business and will continue to provide core member services, but please bear with us if it takes us a little longer than usual to respond to some queries. Over the coming days and weeks there may be changes to some of our services, events and activities. We’ll keep our members informed of any significant changes through this webpage and via email and social media.

4. IOL Members Resource Base

As the impact of the virus unfolds, we are reassured that our small community is well placed to look after each other during these difficult times. At IOL we are trying to do what we can to support all our members at this difficult time through the set up of a COVID-19 resource area.

The resource area consists of:

  • FREE stay-in-touch webinars.
    We are aware of the pressures on businesses, personal well-being and finances being created by the spread of the virus. Let's stand together as a supportive community of outdoor learning professionals.
  • Up-skilling during planned downtime.
    Recommended low-cost or no-cost online learning & development options. We are particularly keen to hear from IOL Members holding APIOL or LPIOL Awards who are willing to host a webinar focussing on a subject or area of their specific interest.
  • Advice and sharing of good practice.
    Learning from each other and sharing opportunities for members to use under-utilised resources to help others manage the impact of the virus.

Log in using your IOL username. All IOL members, whether direct or via a company, have access to the IOL member sections of the website. If you can’t access your account then contact us at

5. IOL Support

We will continue to provide you with all our current online services and resources. We do ask members to bear with us if there is a delayed response time, please contact us via email and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Chief executive Andy Robinson
General enquiries Louise Keir
Professional Standards Neal Anderson
Membership Dave Brooks
Horizons magazine editor Carmen Byrne
Job and event listings Fiona Exon
Website Steve Ullyart

If you would like the Institute to develop specific support for members please contact us with your request and we will do what we can with the resources we have available.

6. Latest government and sector-specific advice


Covid-19 Resource Base


Stay-in-Touch Webinars


Up-skilling During Unplanned Downtime


Advice and Sharing of Good Practice



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