Outdoor Education

(asked on 10th March 2021) - View Source

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential contribution that residential summer camps can play in promoting (a) character development and (b) social mixing as part of young people’s education.

Answered by
Vicky Ford Portrait
Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
This question was answered on 15th March 2021

The department recognises the significant benefits learning outside the classroom can have on children’s educational development, as well as their mental health and wellbeing, and is taking steps to unlock outdoor learning and educational visits in line with the COVID-19 road map.

The government also recognises the vital role they can play in character development opportunities they afford for social mixing, which promotes children and young people’s wellbeing. That is why we ensured that all before and after-school clubs, holiday clubs, and other out-of-school settings were able continue to stay open for those children that need or rely on these settings most, for the duration of the national lockdown, and why we have extended eligibility of attendance when children returned to school on 8 March.

At present, providers are able to offer face-to-face provision for all children, where that provision supports certain essential purposes; with vulnerable children and young people able to continue accessing provision under any circumstance. We have updated our protective measures guidance for the sector, which outlines eligibility and aims to support providers to allow them to open for as many children as safely as possible. This guidance can be found here:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

The government’s intention is that out-of-school settings and wraparound childcare providers will be able to open to all children, without restrictions on access, in time for the summer term, and no earlier than 12 April. However, the government continues to advise against all educational visits. The department is working on advice for schools on the planning and booking of residential visits when it is safe to do so and in line with the government’s roadmap to recovery, as set out in: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021. The advice will be published shortly.

While the department has not thus far engaged with The Summer Camps Trust specifically, since June 2020, we have been in close communication with various stakeholders, to understand the specific challenges that they face. These discussions have been incredibly beneficial for the department, and the collaboration on this policy area has led to a supportive relationship, which is still ongoing.

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