Outdoor education centres in bid to reopen after Easter
With the right support, the outdoor learning sector could help boost the self-confidence, resilience and teamwork skills of a generation of children who have been cooped up for almost a year with few opportunities to connect with each other or with nature, the The School Travel Sector Stakeholder Group argues. The Group warns that the sector could be "snuffed out".
Overnight education trips should be allowed to resume after Easter, having been suspended in the lockdown, say outdoor learning leaders.
Outdoor education has a vital role in rebuilding children's confidence and mental health after months indoors, they state. But centres have been closed for nearly a year, with thousands of jobs lost.
The Group warns that the sector could be "snuffed out". "Our industry is on a knife edge," warns Andy Robinson, chief executive of the Institute for Outdoor Learning. "If no action is taken and no additional support is provided, the sector stands to lose all its 16,000 jobs, snuffing out a vital British industry."
In the next few weeks, schools are expected to begin to reopen to all pupils on timescales which vary between the four nations of the UK - and the outdoor education industry hopes to play a part in pupils' educational and emotional recovery from the lockdown.
The School Travel Sector Stakeholder Group was convened by England's Department for Education but represents outdoor education and school travel businesses across the UK. Its "Roadmap to Reopening" proposes a phased restart of domestic educational visits in the summer term.
The document argues that the guidance, which has seen overnight educational stays blocked since March 2020, should be amended to allow visits to go ahead, depending on background transmission rates of the virus.
The group say they are among the sectors hardest hit by the lockdown, having been closed to their main customers for almost a year, even during periods when other businesses, such as pubs, hotels and restaurants, were allowed to open.
A government spokesman said England's guidance on residential school trips would be reviewed this month.
BBC News report