The benefits of residential outdoor education “cannot be overstated”, a Scottish Conservative MSP has said, as new legislation on the provision of such experiences moves a step closer.
Liz Smith highlighted the positive impacts of outdoor education as she launched the formal consultation period on her Member’s Bill, which will see a requirement placed on local authority and grant-aided schools to provide all 12-to-16 year olds with at least one week of attendance at outdoor residentials.
Ms Smith believes the experience is “one of the most valuable and rewarding aspects of the learning experience”, and that it should be made available to all young people no matter their background.
The proposals have already seen widespread support, but the Mid Scotland and Fife MSP is seeking further submissions from interested parties before the Bill moves through the Scottish Parliament.
Ms Smith said: “I firmly believe that residential outdoor education should be on offer to all young people. There is well-established and compelling evidence which shows just how much these experiences can increase self-esteem, self-reliance, confidence and resilience.
“They help young people to know what it means to be part of a team, to learn leadership skills and the importance of valuing friendship, and they connect them to the natural environment.
“Bearing in mind the impact of the pandemic on young people, when there is growing national concern about young people’s physical and mental wellbeing, the benefits of residential outdoor education cannot be overstated.
“Furthermore, the fact that many children from some of the more deprived areas do not get the same opportunities as their counterparts elsewhere, residential outdoor education should be a key part of the curriculum.
“I am therefore delighted to be launching the consultation period ahead of what I believe will be an important piece of new legislation.”
Martin Davidson, of Outward Bound, which provides outdoor education and adventure experiences, added: “Outdoor residentials provide unique and powerful experiences to develop the citizens required by tomorrow’s society to be economically and socially vibrant, and to tackle the global climate challenges we face.
“I 100% support Liz Smith’s MSP Member’s Bill that seeks to secure the entitlement for all young people to have the opportunity to benefit from an outdoor residential course as part of their education.”
The consultation period is set to run until July 22.