MP Support Group

Outdoor Learning Voice at Westminster

Where are we now?

By 2023 the Outdoor Learning community in the UK had come a long way in achieving recognition amongst Members of Parliament at Westminster (MPs).  This was not the case only a few years earlier.  Whilst there were and remain many sympathetic MPs and civil servants, the dialogue between the many stakeholders in the Outdoor Learning community and those charged with developing policy, funding and legislation was quite limited.

One of the key catalysts in driving change was the Westminster generated restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.  The resultant forming of a UK All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) was driven by an increasing awareness amongst MPs that something they recognised as beneficial and often took for granted was in danger of being damaged.  Namely the provision of residential outdoor learning experiences.

Even as the APPG was formed and MPs and representatives from the Outdoor Learning sector grappled with the implications of those damaging restrictions, there was an acknowledgement that Outdoor Learning was a lot more than the threatened residential experiences. That the APPG would move on to pick-up other issues once the threat was dealt with.

By the end of 2023, the APPG had met a number of times, had attracted new members and developed a map to help MP’s identify Outdoor Learning providers in their constituency.  This is encouraging and is step change from 4 years earlier.

Changes at Westminster

Changes to rules on APPG’s late in 2023 has led to a need for the sector to change its approach in maintaining a dialogue with MPs.   Maintaining an APPG with a minimum of 20 MP members is challenging, especially when MPs describe themselves as ‘broadly supportive but not committed’.  There is a significant difference for many MPs between the threats of 2020/2021 and aspirations of the Outdoor Learning sector in 2024, especially with the short term focus of re-election.  The new rules are proving too challenging for many APPG’s.

The Outdoor Learning sector is changing its forum from an APPG to a Member of Parliament Support Group (MPSG).  This formal structure has lighter requirements than an APPG though does have less official recognition.  It provides the engagement forum required and the vehicle for the re-establishment of an APPG when the need or issue at stake leads to more MPs moving from ‘broadly supportive’ to ‘committed’.


The immediate plan for the MPSG is to review the outcomes of a sector survey scheduled for mid 2024.  The survey outcomes will be formed into a report supported by the MPSG and presented to the main parties at Westminster.  Look out for the opportunity to participate in the survey which will lead the way for an annual ‘state of the nation’ report.

Updates and resources are being developed on the IOL website for UK and Home Nation Government Engagement.

If you wish to support the work of the IOL VOICE please contact the IOL by email.

Contact your MP

With this being a general election year, if you have not yet contacted your MP to encourage them to engage with Outdoor Learning please do.   Use the UK Outdoor Learning Digital Map 2023-4 to find contact details of your local MP.  If would like to be added, this is free of charge, you just need to contact the IOL by email.

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