Outdoor Sector News Updates - February 2021 *2
Management and Governance - Interim Management Group established
January saw the first meeting of the UK Outdoors Management Group designed to drive forward the formal creation of UK Outdoors. This has evolved from the Transformation Group and is structured with 2 representatives from each organisation (IOL, AHOEC, BAPA, Outdoor Council) with additional representation from the Scottish Adventure Activities Forum and Outdoor Alliance Wales and AHOEC (NI). Wider contributions from across the UK is one of our current foci.
Governance and business structure are being developed carefully with focus on creating the best offer for members of each organisation; retaining and improving benefits; developing an effective sector voice; supporting current development work such as professional recognition and chartered status. UK Outdoors Professional Recognition is now available to all members through their organisations – for example here and here.
Member Organisations - Outdoor Council
As one of the organisations within UK Outdoors, OC is now actively exploring how the existing functions currently undertaken by the Council can be best served and, indeed, developed to support the needs of its members. The work of the Council is currently focused on supporting the needs of the Outdoor and Adventurous Learning sector during the health emergency and is doing what it can, within its limited means, to ‘make the case’ at a strategic and political level for support across our sector. The Outdoor Council has effectively drawn together a broad stakeholder group from across and beyond our sector. This function is one that sits well under UK Outdoors and will benefit from all the support a larger organisation would bring.
All nation working – ‘the outdoors knows no borders’
Ensuring that there is effective and meaningful input from across the nations of the UK is central in the overall development of UK Outdoors. It is vitally important to recognise that there is a need to work at a UK-wide level while also recognising that each nation, within the UK, is best placed to support its own sector. However, purely focusing within a nation will not always be the answer and a united approach; realisation of a bigger picture and the value in learning from others are the real drivers for us all working in the outdoors across the UK. It is hoped that UK Outdoors can provide a place where wider collaboration and celebration of diversity can occur. Not only continued representation but wider representation from across the UK nations will be sought. We will be all the richer for it.
School Travel Sector Stakeholder Group
UK Outdoors members are heavily involved in supporting the DfE in its Review on the restart of residential educational visits in England. In supporting the wider sector (that includes School Tours abroad, Overseas Expeditions and Sail Training) the group is also trying to address issues around school travel insurance related to COVID, financial support for residential centres and providing both guidance and a COVID Safe Charter to operate by.
UK Outdoors recently produced a generic Communications plan to help both the work of the STSSG and also the #SaveOutdoorEd campaign in England / Wales. Members are actively supporting this campaign and working with colleagues in Scotland and Northern Ireland to learn and share campaign experiences.
Associated with the DfE work is the financial support case for centres affected by the ongoing DfE guidance to English schools. The most recent survey of members across all our organisations closes on the 3rd February and we expect the data from this to underpin a request for sector funding from HM Treasury through DCMS.
All Party Parliamentary Group for Outdoor Learning
This growing group of MPs, chaired by Robin Millar MP and Tim Farron MP, is informed by UK Outdoors representation. It has had significant influence in raising the value of outdoor learning in parliament and lobbying the Secretary of State on residential visits guidance. Current development of a more formal advisory group to the APPG is being undertaken by UK Outdoors.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
UK Outdoors organisations have collaborated and jointly funded work in this area which has seen exciting and positive development.
The recent launch of the INclusivity in the OUTdoors webinar series was a huge success with some 290 tickets reserved for the first online event. See more about this work here.
Climate Change Agenda
Work continues in a cross-organisation group to develop sector responses and initiatives to the climate crisis. Current work underway is looking at an accessible evolution of the Eco-Schools model for outdoor providers to enable children, young people and families to transfer learning and experience between school, community and outdoor experiences. Our sector has a unique offer to make in terms of providing space and context for the understanding of this arguably most important crisis of all.
Inspection and Accreditation
UK Outdoors is working closely with Adventure UK and HSE to develop a non-statutory scheme to replace adventurous activities licensing. This is currently planned for March 2023 with the possibility of extension to March 2025.
AHOEC and BAPA continue to develop a comprehensive support, evaluation and accreditation offer for outdoor providers and this work is a focus for UK Outdoors.
Throughout the past months of challenge in our sector, one of the positive outcomes has been that of open collaboration. This has not just driven much internal cohesion within our member organisations but also encouraged constructive dialogue further afield. The Outdoor Industries Association is a non-profit organisation advocating and representing the outdoor recreation sector that has always been close to our world and incredibly supportive. We are working to strengthen these bonds and develop a strong message that places the outdoors not in two camps but in the centre of one. Learning and recreation go hand in hand. The OIA newsletter is extremely interesting and informative – subscribe here.
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