Schools have been unable to go on overnight trips since March 2020, and the reopening of this part of education has been excluded from the government’s current roadmap. Having obtained legal advice we believe that the government’s failure to make a decision on school trips is irrational and discriminatory.
This judicial review is being raised by Aylmerton Outdoor Education Centre on behalf of #SaveOutdoorEd and for the benefit of the wider industry, please see here for more details on their story. Preliminary legal advice has been paid for by a small group of 5 outdoor centres already involved with the campaign, but we need some help to progress this case further. We now need to raise an additional £5,000 in 2 weeks to cover legal costs.
Some background on our case:
#SaveOutdoorEducation is a campaign group of passionate outdoor educators fighting for residential outdoor education centres during the covid-19 pandemic. We have been working since July last year to raise awareness of the terrible impact the government’s blanket ban of school residentials has had on the industry. Since March 2020 the government have had guidance in place completely banning school residentials. Many outdoor centres have lost more than 90% of their income over the last 12 months and have not had specific support because we have not been officially closed, but the ban on school trips has effectively halted our trade. The situation is comparable to pubs being open but banned from selling alcohol – an impossible situation to be in. This is the worst crisis our industry has ever faced, hundreds of millions of pounds have been lost, thousands of instructors have lost their jobs, and a large proportion of the industry has been lost forever. You can find more data on this impact here.
Outdoor education is a vital part of children’s education. 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.
For many children, and particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, a school trip to an outdoor education centre may be their only chance to see and experience the world outside their local area. The loss of outdoor centres and the opportunities they present are disproportionately felt by these children and young people who can’t access such experiences elsewhere, and the government has a duty to address this inequality. A whole cohort have already missed out, we want to make sure that a further groups of children don’t miss out too. After over a year of successive lockdowns outdoor education can play a vital part in children and young people’s recovery, and the government must recognise and take action to allow children these opportunities.
The government’s approach to the sector has not recognised its diversity: the blanket ban on residential school trips does not recognise that small centres already operate within school bubbles, and can be as safe, if not safer, than other sectors who have been included in the ‘road map’ such as hotels and hostels.
The government must recognise the damage that their lack of decision has done to our industry, and the disproportionate damage this has and will continue to have on the most disadvantaged children in our communities. Guidance must be changed to allow school trips to resume in a covid safe manner alongside the rest of the economy.