Cash squeeze means children missing out on outdoor education
A cash crisis in schools nationally means thousands of children are being denied the chance to take part in life-changing outdoor education.
The UK’s leading environmental education charity, the Field Studies Council, was inundated with applications for a £60,000 pot of money to help schools pay for trips, and believes outdoor education will suffer as head teachers battle to balance dwindling budgets.
Field Studies Council chief executive Mark Castle said: “The huge response to our Grants for Schools promotion proves that teachers are desperate to give their pupils valuable outdoor education experiences, but in the face of rising costs and reduced budgets, we can all see why trips are amongst the first thing to be cut.
“There is a huge amount of research which shows that outdoor education can have a life-changing impact on the social and academic development of children, especially those who otherwise have little access to nature.
“This generation has already missed out on so much because of covid, so it is vital that efforts are made to protect outdoor education for all.”
The Field Studies Grants for Schools programme offered schools the chance to receive funding for up to half of the average cost of a residential trip at a Field Studies Council education centre.
Instead of the expected 70 applications, the charity received a staggering 172 requests for cash.
Nine schools have been awarded the Grants for Schools funding, seven in England and two in Wales.
Each school will now receive up to £7,500 over three years to help with the cost of their outdoor education experiences.
Each year, the Field Studies Council, is responsible for delivering outdoor education sessions to hundreds of thousands of school children from its UK network of field centres.
The charity is currently backing campaigns in Wales and Scotland to ensure that residential trips become an embedded element of the education curriculum and is keen for England to follow suit.
In Wales, Senedd member Sam Rowlands has introduced the Outdoor Education Bill to ensure that children in Wales experience an outdoor education residential visit at least once in their school career, regardless of where they live or their family background.
A similar Bill has been proposed in Scotland by Tory MSP Liz Smith, who wants all children aged 12-16, to be given at least one chance to attend a week-long outdoor residential course.
For more information about the Field Studies Council, visit www.field-studies-council.org