29th October 2020

Plas y Brenin calls to save outdoor education in all its forms

Written by Jack Nicholl


Outdoor education and adventure tourism in the UK has a long and illustrious history, with many of the original innovators for outdoor education and training based in the UK delivering innovative and impactful education across our communities.

The current crisis is existential and like nothing faced by the sector or Plas y Brenin in their histories.

Like many centres, Plas y Brenin is significantly challenged by the pandemic and faces some tough times in the near future. We closed in the initial lockdown for 5 months, subsequently reopened with a heavily restricted programme, and are currently closed again due to the coronavirus firebreak lockdown in Wales.

The challenges we have faced are particularly poignant because the very skills and attributes proven to be developed through good outdoor education are the ones society are going to need to recover from the pandemic. The outdoors is proven to develop resilience, resourcefulness and the ability to work in a team and independently. The sector is at risk of disappearing and with it the crucial role outdoor education plays in providing opportunities for people from all walks of life. No less important are the economic and social contribution outdoor centres bring to their local areas, serving as key employers in often remote rural areas.

A lack of access to high quality and safe outdoor opportunities will create a mental and physical health time bomb for many generations. The sector is completely viable but unable to reopen under current conditions and provide the vital residential and outdoor experiences that complement our educational colleagues in schools, colleges and universities.

At Plas y Brenin, we cannot wait to welcome back residential school trips, both to our centre and the sector more widely. We have been working closely with sector stakeholders, National Governing Bodies and political representatives from both UK and Welsh Government to advance this cause.

We would like to see:

  • A clear statement from UK government and the devolved administrations that enables residential outdoor education to resume and fully recognises its value.
  • An alignment in regulation and approach between outdoor education, in all its forms, and other related areas such as boarding schools, education based in schools, apprenticeships, adult learning and vocational education.
  • A recognition and acceptance that the Head Teachers, who have successfully and safety managed the return to the classroom, are able to negotiate with the Heads of Outdoor Education Centres for the safe and effective return of residential outdoor education for their pupils and students.
  • A date set for a rapid review of outdoor education provision in November, with a timely conclusion.

How you can help: