In a House of Commons Urgent Question session on the impact of coronavirus on education settings earlier today, Penrith and The Border MP, Dr Neil Hudson, called for more support for the outdoor education sector.
Dr Hudson asked:
“We all know that the pandemic has caused many young people to miss out on vital learning experiences and I welcome the Government’s recovery strategy to help them catch up. In Cumbria, we have unique outdoor education centres such as the Blencathra Centre and the Outward Bound Centres that offer life-affirming educational experiences both as day and residential activities offering young people a chance to benefit from some of the vital opportunities they have missed out on. Does my Right Honourable Friend agree that these centres can be a key part of the solution and will he look into his Department directly supporting and utilising these assets to achieve this educational recovery?”
The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, responded:
“Well as part of step three of the roadmap we lifted restrictions so people could do overnight residential. Of course my Honourable Friend is absolutely right to outline the benefits of outdoor education centres and the real value they bring to so many young people. We will certainly continue to work with the sector on how we can promote this, especially as schools have got more and more freedoms in the future.”
Speaking after the Commons session, Dr Hudson added:
“It is vital that outdoor education is not an afterthought when it comes to a holistic educational recovery. I was pleased with the Education Secretary’s response on this subject and I will look closely at what he and his Department comes forward with. Over the past 15 months children of all ages have been restricted indoors and away from school far more than anyone would have wanted. Ensuring full access to well-supported outdoor education centres will do wonders for our young folk’s physical and mental health and can be a real opportunity to help with their educational recovery.”
Photo credit – Dr Neil Hudson MP with Tim Foster is the Head of Centre at Field Studies Council, Blencathra at the Blencathra Centre