Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith has warned that Scotland’s outdoor centres “must not be allowed” to close.
The politician, who represents the Mid Scotland and Fife region, is delighted to have secured a Members’ Business Debate on the issue at Holyrood and also highlighted public interest in the matter, which is shown with 18,000 people signing a petition to Save Scottish Outdoor Centres.
In August, the Scottish Government issued advice to local authorities that school residential trips should not take place. However, Liz Smith underlines how residential outdoor experiences have been a feature of Scottish education for 80 years and that they are highly valued by teachers.
Commenting, Liz Smith said: “Our outdoor education centres should be highly valued on exactly the same basis as our schools. The educational opportunities they offer are unique and a priceless asset when it comes to developing the talents and skills of rounded individuals, no matter their background.
“That is why 18,000 people have signed the ‘SaveYourOutdoorCentres’ petition.”
She added: “As things stand right now, predictions suggest that we could lose half of our 36 outdoor centres by this time next year. This is as a result of the financial pressures they are facing and the Scottish Government’s decision to advise schools that they should not make use of the centres under the current Covid rules.
“Every single outdoor group to whom I have spoken during the past fortnight have told me we must act now if we are to save outdoor education.
“If outdoor centres do close, they will almost certainly never re-open and that is something that must not be allowed to happen.”
*Liz Smith MSP will lead the Members’ Business Debate on Residential Outdoor Centres in the Chamber at Holyrood on Tuesday, September 22, following Decision Time.