The Welsh government’s guidance to schools has not allowed them to take groups on residential trips since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. This is a vital part of education that allows children the opportunity to have experiences that many children otherwise wouldn’t have. Rhos y Gwaliau (RYG) Outdoor Education Centre, with the support of outdoor centres across Wales and the #SaveOutdoorEd campaign, are raising a legal challenge against the Welsh Government’s rules preventing schools from taking their children on outdoor educational trips. Preliminary legal advice has been paid for but we need your support to help this case progress, to push the Welsh government to fully open education and to #SaveOutdoorEd in Wales.
Outdoor Education centres offer educational experiences to children that simply are not available through traditional education settings. School trips to outdoor education centres have proven benefits to children’s mental and physical health and gives them the opportunity to develop and learn in ways that, for many, is impossible in other parts of their lives.
This ban on school trips will disproportionately affect children from disadvantaged backgrounds. For those children whose families can’t afford to go on holidays a school trip may be their only opportunity to access such opportunities. The outdoor education sector has been massively hit during the course of the pandemic, more so in Wales than anywhere else, where 20% of centres have already closed. In England School trips are allowed, and not only does this mean that Welsh children are missing out, it also means that Welsh centres are losing business over the border. Centres have had enough of being ignored, of children being the governments lowest priority, and are raising a legal challenge to the current guidance.
Schools have been operating within bubbles for many months now, however the Welsh government still do not recognise an educational bubble on overnight trips. Welsh government’s reopening strategies are irrational and leave children at a disadvantage.
When groups of the general public can gather in huge numbers theatres, cinemas and concert venues, why not allow established school bubble groups to go on school trips?
When people can fly to foreign holidays, why prevent established school bubbles going on educational trips to isolated centres in Wales?
We have not been shown any evidence as to the extra risk that keeps us closed, centres are operating safely in England, and we must have the same for our schools and centres in Wales.
A similar legal challenge against the ban on school residentials was raised in England, and shortly afterwards residential trips were allowed to resume. We know that school residentials can be run safely, the current guidance is irrational and will have a disastrous impact on the sector if it not urgently reviewed. We have every expectation that this challenge will encourage the Welsh government to see sense and allow residential school trips this summer term. We need your help to continue this fight, please give whatever you can to help us to challenge the ban on residentials, and #SaveOutdoorEd.