Siân Gwenllian MS has raised concerns regarding the negligence of the Welsh Government of the outdoor activities sector.
The Member of the Senedd for Arfon, which is also Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Education and Culture asked Mark Drakeford, the First Minister for a statement on support for outdoor education centres yesterday.
Siân Gwenllian MS said;
“I have corresponded back and forth with the Welsh Government about this since March, but there is little action taken. The Governments need to discuss and find solutions for an increasingly frustrated sector.
I have spoken to representatives from outdoor education centres in my own constituency, and the message they convey is that they feel that they are being forgotten as a sector, and that the Government is not taking the time to create appropriate guidance, or considering giving specific support to outdoor centres.”
There is currently an ongoing debate regarding the threat to outdoor education in the Scottish Parliament.
A recent statement from the Institute for Outdoor Learning claimed that if no action is taken, and no support is provided this academic year, the sector stands to lose all its 15,000 jobs and nearly half its capacity permanently.
The IOL’s statement read;
“The inaction over guidance on travel and overnight visits for educational settings has already cost businesses, from small independent trip providers and local authority centres to larger organisations, an estimated £500m in lost revenue and over 6000 job losses.
Since March, children and young people have missed out on over 1.5m educational visits.”
Gareth Davies of Arete Outdoor Centre, Llanrug, has expressed his concerns stating that;
“Waiting until September 2021 until we can receive some income is obviously untenable for us and all the other outdoor centres across Wales.”
David Crombie, of Boulder Adventures Ltd. in Llanberis echoed his concerns;
“Concerns for the Outdoor Education Sector continue to grow due to lack of clear guidance for a reopening strategy for centres from government.
As we progress into another winter season many centres face a very uncertain future due to the loss of nearly all business in 2020.
Not only does this lead towards the real risk of significant job losses across the industry as furlough ends, it also means that many thousands of young people have missed out on life enriching experiences.
Outdoor education champions team work, social skills, health, well-being and active lifestyles. To still be able to provide these benefits in 2021 the sector desperately needs clarity and additional government financial support to save education centres.”
Siân Gwenllian MS has added that as well as ‘meaningful economic support’, the sector needs ‘guidance.’
Gareth Davies of Arete Outdoor Centre added;
“We appear to be a forgotten sector, even though through taking one school bubble at a time we could operate in line with schools opening.
The bubble would primarily be outdoors. Of the list of sectors allowed to open this certainly isn't the riskiest and yet one of the most beneficial to our young people.”