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.
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
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
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
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:
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.
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