North West Durham MP Richard Holden is leading calls for the Government to provide decisive support for outdoor education residential centres which have been badly affected by restrictions introduced in response to the public health crisis this year.
Small outdoor education centres – like Weardale Adventure Centre in Ireshopeburn in Richard’s constituency – have not been able to bring in school groups which are normally a core part of the business, because of measures brought in to tackle Covid-19.
Richard last month joined MPs from all parties calling for new support and has joined the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Outdoor Learning which is campaigning on the issue. In recent weeks, Richard wrote a letter to the Secretary of State for Education highlighting the value of local outdoor education centres and calling for additional support to be provided to centres at this difficult time.
During the summer, Richard visited Weardale Adventure Centre in Ireshopeburn and met the centre’s team led by John Noble and Kay Sheppard and was impressed by the quality of the facilities and the dedication of the staff.
Commenting, Richard said: “I was deeply impressed by the work of John, Kay and their team at Weardale Adventure Centre and how their work positively benefits young lives. I also know that many constituents are employed by this and other centres, especially in Upper Weardale.
“I support the campaign to Save Outdoor Education, without qualification. Since the crisis began in March, I have constantly lobbied the Government to provide additional support for the outdoor education sector, on top of the important grant and furlough packages that were brought in earlier this year. Along with other members of the APPG, I think it would be sensible for a sector deal, such as that provided by the Scottish Government, to be brought in to help save outdoor education here in County Durham and across England. “