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MP presses ministers to announce roadmap for outdoor education sector

March 24, 2021 11:26 AM

In Parliament last night, South Lakes MP Tim Farron urged Government ministers to set out a roadmap for the reopening of outdoor education.

Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on Education After Covid-19, Tim said: "On February 22nd, which is now more than a month ago, the Prime Minister read out his roadmap for the unlocking of the country.

"Lots of things are on that road map - an opening date for nightclubs was on it. That is very good; I am glad it is there. However, there was nothing for outdoor education centres.

"If, as I do, the Minister speaks to the heads and teachers of primary and secondary schools, he will discover that those heads and teachers throughout primary and secondary education are desperate to be able to confirm, or indeed to book, day sessions and residential sessions at our outdoor education centres, many dozens of which are in Cumbria, especially in my constituency.

"So, I ask the Minister this: why have he and the Government not added outdoor education centres and their reopening to that road map?"

In response, the Education minister Nick Gibb said: "The honourable member for Westmorland and Lonsdale raised the important issue of outdoor education and the importance of such activities for a child's education, development, mental health and wellbeing.

"The Government continue to work with industry bodies and sector representatives to address the issues arising from the pandemic, and we will help outdoor education centres plan for the safe reintroduction of educational visits and outdoor education in line with the Prime Minister's road map."

Speaking after the debate, Tim said: "I'm deeply frustrated that the minister completely failed to give any indication whatsoever for when this vital industry can reopen.

"Outdoor education has so many benefits for young people's confidence, physical health and mental wellbeing, but the Government are in serious danger of letting the sector collapse unless they act now."