Scotland calls to guarantee residential outdoor education experiences
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Scotland calls to guarantee residential outdoor education experiences

Adventurers Mollie Hughes and Mark Beaumont have joined politicians from across the political spectrum in Scotland to launch a new vision paper “Thriving Through Residential Outdoor Education”.

Our vision for young people

This joint vision seeks to guarantee that all young people in Scotland have the chance to benefit from residential outdoor education experiences.

Evidence shows that learning in the outdoors, particularly when including residential and adventurous experiences, is beneficial for mental health and wellbeing, reducing the attainment gap, and developing a connection to and care for the natural environment. All of which have been impacted negatively because of the pandemic. All of which need addressed to meet the medium term societal challenges ahead.

Mark Beaumont BEM said:

“Young people have had their lives turned upside down over the last year, they have missed school and seeing their friends and their mental health has been impacted. I know from my own experience how getting outdoors and having adventures can help mental health and wellbeing. That’s why this plan, which would guarantee all young people the chance to a residential outdoor education experience is so important.”

The Lockdown Lowdown report by YouthLink showed that around two fifths of young people surveyed were concerned about their mental health and wellbeing.

Mollie Hughes, Scouts Scotland President and Record Breaking Adventurer said:

“Residential outdoor education has never been more important for young people. The chance to be away from home, experiencing the great outdoors with all of it's challenges and rewards is invaluable to their development. At a time where the lives of young people have been shaped by staying at home to protect their communities, it is crucial that we create future opportunities that give them a chance to spread their wings, foster confidence and resilience, build new friendships and develop an attachment and respect for nature. This is unachievable in any other environment.”

created in collaboration

The vision paper was written by Outward Bound and Scottish Outdoor Education Centres, Scouts Scotland, Actual Reality Trust/Ardentinny Outdoor Centre, Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre, Abernethy Trust, Ocean Youth Trust and the Field Studies Council. It has cross party support from MSPs Liz Smith, Alison Johnstone, Iain Gray, Fulton McGregor and Liam McArthur.

The vision seeks to ensure that residential outdoor learning is embedded across the curriculum, and that all young people benefit in both primary and secondary school.

With cross parliamentary support

Liz Smith MSP, Scottish Conservative Party said:

“The whole Parliament is united in its determination to support our outdoor centres given the invaluable role they play in the education of our young people. It is crucial their future is safeguarded and this new strategy goes a long way to putting the building blocks in place.”

Alison Johnstone MSP, Scottish Green Party said:

“I wholeheartedly support this vision that embeds residential outdoor education in the school curriculum for every young person in Scotland. There has never been a better or more important time to invest in developing the resilience and skills of our young people in an environment that delivers challenges which help young people reach their potential on so many levels.”

Iain Gray MSP, Scottish Labour Party said:

“The next generation of young people who have had their education and learning impacted on by Covid-19 related lockdowns, home schooling and remote learning need access to outdoor education opportunities more than ever. All the evidence shows that outdoor learning can help close the poverty related attainment gap and provides significant educational, health and wellbeing, social and personal development benefits.”

Liam McArthur MSP, Scottish Liberal Democrats:

“Through my role as a Girlguiding Ambassador, I’ve seen first-hand the wide ranging benefits of outdoor education for children and young people, whether it’s helping them to learn new skills, developing their confidence or making new friends and having fun. We also can’t overstate the contribution that being more connected with nature plays in supporting and improving the mental health and wellbeing of young people.”

And endorsed across Scotland

The vision paper “Thriving Through Outdoor Residential Education” is also supported by Children in Scotland, the Association of Headteachers and Deputies, Play Scotland, YouthLink Scotland, RYA Scotland, The Awards Network, Ramblers Scotland, GirlGuiding Scotland, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Childrens 1st, Scottish Curling and Woodcraft Folk.

As we sit out this lockdown, we think this quote from Play Scotland provides a perfect perspective to end on...

"When we look back we realise that many of our most important life lessons came from the experiences we had staying in the rich learning environments of outdoor residential centres. There we had the freedom and independence to learn outside, build our confidence, make new friendships, have a go at things and experience the wonders of nature on the doorstep. Every child in Scotland needs this commitment, more than ever."

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