The Department for Education has published guidance for the gradual reopening of outdoor education centres.
Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, has long been campaigning for and working with ministers for the re-opening of centres such as the Blencathra Centre and the Outward Bound Ullswater Centre in his constituency.
The guidance sets out a clear timetable for schools to resume day trips and residential stays:
- Schools may reintroduce outdoor learning and single day educational visits from Step 2 in the government’s roadmap (no earlier than April 12th)
- Schools can reintroduce domestic residential trips from Step 3 in the government’s roadmap (no earlier than May 17th)
Residential school trips account for the vast majority of business for outdoor education centres – but they stopped overnight as a result of the restrictions arising from the pandemic.
Commenting on the announcement, Dr Hudson said:
“I am delighted that the Government has listened to calls, from myself and colleagues from across the House such as Robin Millar MP, Liz Saville Roberts MP and my Cumbrian colleague Tim Farron MP, to set out a clear road to reopening. Our All-Party Parliamentary Group on Outdoor Learning, of which I am a Vice Chair, has worked hard to secure a timeframe from Government so schools can start planning. I have met with Ministers including Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to ensure the issue of safe re-opening stays high on the agenda.
Whilst the new guidance helps to provide a useful framework, we must be continue to be cautious about how the pandemic develops and what the data about Coronavirus transmission are telling us.”
Secretary of State Gavin Williamson MP said:
“I know how important outdoor education centres are for the economy and communities of rural areas in particular. I wanted to do this as soon as possible and am very glad we are in a position to do so now. Hopefully our centres can all look forward to a busy and successful summer.”