Covid: Loss of school trips in pandemic ‘has cost £500m’

See full BBC article here –

I’ll copy the article but before I do I’ll have my twopenn’orth… I’ll keep it short and to the point…

Good Riddance!

Now, I’m not rubbing any noses in it but I am glad the Outdoor Education sector is struggling and I for one will not be sad to see centres, either publicly or privately owned close their doors for good.

Privately Owned Adventure Activity Centres

After years of working in adventure activity I decided enough was enough. I have reams of evidence of poor provision, of dangerous provision, of wilfully bending rules and guidance and of working to the lowest possible level whilst maintaining ownership of an Adventure Activity License. Not only that I have as much evidence of groups of companies colluding to act against reasonable use of the great outdoors and to ensure over use. And what rules there are I have even more evidence of the privately owned companies breaking the said rules and after whistle blowing the authorities taking no action.

In summary, most privately owned adventure activity provision is a disgrace and those who have profited from poor provision and the delivery of miserable days out, who have presided over accident after accident, well, they ought to fail.

Local Education Authority Centres

The comments for privately owned adventure activity centres also apply to those owned by local authorities. In fact a group of professionals I used to manage made formal complaints about some LEA’s to the Adventure Activity Licensing Authority, to no effect of course, for their unsafe delivery of Gorge Walking. Do remember, these centres ought to be centres of excellence. After all they have children in their care and any parent would expect that their children would be safe given that the centre was council owned.

The long term management of centres can lead to all sorts of issues, such as that at Storey Arms where the manager was accused and found guilty of years of child abuse.

LEA’s are not able to deliver best value. The provision of activity weeks by these centres is grossly over priced, despite them complaining that they are running a tight ship and still can’t make ends meet. I could deliver better whilst paying my staff more, whilst engaging with and using local business to assist with provision, whilst offering the best level of qualified instructors and of kit, whilst delivering unique adventure activity experiences with full educational outcomes and all for far far less than it currently costs the tax payer.

And finally these centres disrupt the commercial sector marketplace by dipping their toes into the delivery of commercial activities, using their subsidised staffing and buildings and vehicles and kit. For the privately owned provider there is no level playing field.

In summary, authority owned activity provision is a disgrace and those who enjoyed jobs for life whilst turning a blind eye, who have adversely impacted the small business’ in their locality and who have knowingly not been working to best practice either for the client or the environment, well, they ought to fail.

The BBC’s article in full:

A lack of school trips during the pandemic has cost the outdoor education sector £500m and caused the loss of 6,000 jobs, a group has said.

The Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL), which supports the sector across Britain, is calling for a change in rules banning residential visits.

If centres cannot offer these courses to schools, they say they may be forced to close – with 15,000 jobs at risk.

The Welsh and UK governments say they regularly review the rules.

The IOL said pupils have lost out on 1.5 million educational visits since March – and they are worried all of the 15,000 staff who work in the sector could lose their jobs.

Snowdonia has one of the largest concentrations of centres in Britain with about 25 locations catering for schools and educational establishments across the UK.

Sophie Holdstock, who works at the Arete Outdoor Centre in Llanrug, said: “In the Snowdonia area we’ve already had two centres give out redundancies.

Outdoor education will form part of the new curriculum in Wales

“It’s going to have an impact on the economy and it’s such a shame because this area is absolutely amazing for outdoor education.

“We’ve got the mountains, the beaches and we take the children to learn about the local culture.

“We take them underground, they learn about the slate mining, Welsh history. All of that’s being lost at the moment.”

She said all the centres in the area were ready to open and had safety measures in place.

“We were hoping to reopen in September with the autumn term,” she said.

Local schools cannot keep the sector going alone, one director warns

“But it’s almost turning into a generation now that could potentially miss out on its outdoor education, especially if the guidance doesn’t change and these centres close down.”

Ed Jones, director of the Rhos-y-Gwaliau outdoor centre in Bala, said: “Most of our business comes from England and they can’t come for the day, it’s too far – they have to stay overnight. 

“We’re working a little bit with local schools, but that’s only about a week or two in a year. It’s not enough to keep us going.”

Outdoor education will form part of the new curriculum in Wales which is supposed to be introduced in 2022, and the outdoor sector is arguing the centres should play a vital role in delivering that.

The Welsh Government said it had funded more than 13,000 businesses to help cope with the impact of coronavirus and firms in the sector were eligible for support.’

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Andrew Lamb avatar

Walk leader @ Wales Outdoors, life model @ Cardiff Life Models and poet @ Self Published I opened the first mountain bike hire business in the Brecon Beacons National Park in 1995. Since then my business, Wales Outdoors, has grown and morphed and is now the most active and most popular guided walks and adventure travel provider in Wales. Andy has been a volunteer co-ordinator, guided walks programme organiser and part time central area warden for the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, chair of Brecon Beacons Tourism, a Duke of Edinburghs area co-ordinator, a Princes Trust social inclusion manager, the catalyst for the Brecon Beacons National Park Environment Charter and a key motivator for the inception of the outdoor activity peer group, SWOAPG. Join Me! for a walk or two :)