Outdoor learning centres handed £2m to help survive pandemic

Education minister Richard Lochhead said the funding should allow the centres to provide 'meaningful experiences'.

Outdoor learning centres handed £2m to help survive pandemic Getty Images

Outdoor education centres are to receive £2m of Scottish Government cash to help the sector survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

Announcing the financial support, education minister Richard Lochhead said it should allow the centres – which are currently not permitted to have youngsters for overnight stays – to provide “meaningful experiences”.

But those campaigning for support for the sector said a long-term strategy is still “urgently needed”.

Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith, who has been calling for more support for the centres, has previously warned £3m is needed for them to survive the winter period.

Mr Lochhead insisted he is “acutely aware” of the challenges faced by the sector due to coronavirus restrictions.

He added: “Outdoor learning is an important aspect of Scotland’s curriculum. It can play a vital role in supporting children’s wellbeing and attainment and we are fully committed to supporting outdoor education providers.

“I hope this funding, along with third sector and youth work funding streams which are already available, alleviates some of the pressures facing the sector during these challenging times and allows them to offer meaningful experiences to young people.

“Funding on its own will not address all of the challenges that are faced at the current time.

“We will continue to engage with local authorities to support the important role that outdoor education centres and their staff can play during the period when overnight residential stays are not permitted for public health reasons.”

Ms Smith said the funding is “welcome progress brought about by the extensive lobbying of the outdoor education sector and the cross-party group of MSPs who have lobbied the Scottish Government so hard in recent months”.

She added: “There is universal agreement that outdoor education is one of the most precious assets in the whole educational experience and we cannot let centres close.

“£2m for the immediate future will help to cover costs this winter but no-one – including the Scottish Government – should be in any doubt that a long-term strategy, properly funded, is urgently needed to ensure our centres can plan ahead for the post-Covid era.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code