Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith is encouraging residents and politicians to support a petition to save outdoor centres, stating that these experiences “enrich the lives” of young people.
The politician, who represents the Mid Scotland and Fife region, points to the fact that residential experiences have been a feature of Scottish education for 80 years and that they are highly valued by teachers.
In August, the SNP Government issued advice to local authorities that school residential trips should not take place. This decision will not be reviewed until December, but it’s felt this is too late for schools and youth organisations to be able to plan for residential trips before August 2021.
Commenting, Liz Smith said: “It is feared that many residential outdoor centres will close as there will be no support or finance package in place. The SNP Government is being urged to reverse their decision not to offer financial support to the residential outdoor sector in Scotland.
“There is extensive evidence from educational research that it is these outdoor experiences that enrich the lives of the young people the most – providing them with a broader knowledge and appreciation of environments and communities other than those with which they are most familiar.
“They also help build confidence, self-esteem and are great for mental health and engaging pupils.
“In particular, these longer activities teach pupils leadership skills, the need for responsible behaviour and how to deal with new challenges and risk factors.”
Liz Smith continued: “In an age where there is growing national concern about young people’s health and lifestyles, when there is also concern that many children from some of the more deprived areas do not get the same opportunities as their counterparts elsewhere, and when there is concern that some local authorities are currently feeling the need to cut back on this kind of activity because of stringent financial circumstances, I think we need much more cross-party collaboration to develop new policies, which have lasting benefits for which you can’t write any curriculum.”
Anyone wishing to sign the petition to Save Scottish Outdoor Centres should click on the following link: https://www.change.org/p/scottish-government-save-scottish-outdoor-centres
Liz Smith MSP has lodged a Motion at the Scottish Parliament urging MSPs to sign the petition.