Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden, has visited Bowles Rocks, an outdoor activity centre near Eridge, in support of the outdoor education sector.
The Bowles Rocks is a charity established in 1964 to support young people in learning about the outdoors. The centre works with thousands of children and young people from all backgrounds, helping them to develop and learn. It offers a wide range of outdoor activities such as skiing, kayaking, rock climbing, orienteering and camping.
Each year, children and young people undertake outdoor activities and outdoor learning opportunities at Bowles Rocks, with many participating in residential outdoor visits. These experiences provide a vital contribution to the education, welfare and personal development of young individuals by developing interpersonal skills, enhancing self-confidence and mental well-being, and providing healthy outdoor activities.
However, the Department for Education is currently advising against residential and non-residential domestic trips for children. This is having a profound financial impact on the sector, as well as negative social impact on pupils. Not re-opening this sector puts thousands of jobs at risk and removes a vitally important element of children’s education.
Nus raised the issue in Parliament during the Covid-19 debate on Monday (28 September), highlighting the important educational experiences that Bowles Rocks and Hindleap Warren provide to our youngsters and stressing that Covid-safe protections are in place for the centres to welcome pupils this autumn. The full transcript of Nus' contribution is available here.
She has also written to the Secretary of State for Education, urging the Government to reconsider its position and to consider what further measures of financial assistance can be put into place to support the sector.
Nus Ghani said: “Outdoor educational visits are vital in helping to get our children outdoors again and in delivering rounded learning experiences that they have been missing during the lockdown. We are extremely lucky to have two fantastic outdoor activity centres in Wealden: Bowles Rocks and Hindleap Warren. Both these centres do not only offer invaluable learning and development opportunities for our children, but also spark lifelong interest in healthy outdoor activities in children, which is vital for building resilience and well-being of young Britain post-pandemic. I have stressed the issue to the Minister during the Covid-19 debate in the House of Commons, and I am urging the Government to open up outdoor education experiences and prevent lasting damage to the sector that may deny these valuable experiences to our children in the future.”