£2 million package of support.
A fund to help residential outdoor education centres mitigate the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis opens for applications today.
Centres which are facing financial challenges can apply for funds to help with running costs and to enable staff to deliver outdoor learning in and around schools.
Science Minister Richard Lochhead said:
“Residential outdoor education centres are facing severe challenges. As well as providing much-needed support, this fund will mean pupils can continue to benefit from outdoor learning, which is an important aspect of Scotland’s curriculum and can play a vital role in supporting children’s wellbeing and attainment.
“I hope this funding, along with third sector and youth work funding streams which are already available, alleviates some of the pressures and allows centres to offer meaningful experiences to young people.
“Funding on its own will not address all of the challenges facing the sector. 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.”
To coincide with the opening of the support fund, Mr Lochhead has written to local authority directors of education, inviting them to share new advice and support materials for schools as they work with centres in the coming months.
Martin Davidson, of the Outward Bound Trust and #SaveYourOutdoorCentres Campaign, said:
“Outdoor education centres welcome the COVID-19 Residential Outdoor Education Centre Support Fund, which will provide vital support during these financially extremely challenging times. Supporting fixed facility costs, the fund will ensure that many centres that would have closed permanently are still available for the benefit of future generations of young people.
“In addition, in the short term, the fund will also support outdoor centre instructors to work with young people in schools and local communities, meeting their significant emotional and social needs at this time of unprecedented uncertainty in their lives.”
The fund will be administered by the charity YouthLink Scotland. Applications for essential running costs are invited between today, 23 November, and 11 December 2020. Applications for funding to support outdoor learning in and around schools are invited between 11 Jan 2021 and 5 Feb 2021.
YouthLink Scotland CEO Tim Frew said:
“We welcome the launch of this fund. It will be crucial to the future of our outdoor residential centres, which are a key part of the fabric of Scotland’s wider education system, including youth work. Access to these opportunities is an important part of education recovery as we move through and past the pandemic.
“Outdoor learning contributes to young people’s health and wellbeing and builds essential life and work skills, while connecting them in a special way to their immediate environment and to the wider world and its issues. The value of outdoor learning cannot be underestimated - so it is critical that we ensure the survival of our outdoor centres.”
Details about the fund and how to apply can be found here