The Scottish Conservatives have today launched a consultation on their Outdoor Education Bill.
The Bill proposes new legislation to ensure that all youngsters between 12-16 years old have the opportunity to experience at least one week of residential outdoor education – and has been backed by educational experts and campaigners.
The Bill is being launched by Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith, who was a schoolteacher before entering politics, and is passionate about the benefits of outdoor education.
Discussing the proposals, Liz Smith, said:
“I firmly believe that residential outdoor education should be on offer to all young people. There is well-established and compelling evidence which shows just how much these experiences can increase self-esteem, self-reliance, confidence and resilience.
“They help young people to know what it means to be part of a team, to learn leadership skills and the importance of valuing friendship, and they connect them to the natural environment.
“After two years of harsh pandemic restrictions on our children, this is more important than ever.
“However, right now, many children from some of Scotland’s more deprived areas do not get the same opportunities as their counterparts elsewhere.
“This Bill would make residential outdoor education a key part of the curriculum – and extend the opportunity to all children, regardless of background.”
The consultation is your chance to share your views on the proposed legislation.
The consultation period will run from Friday 29th April to Friday 22nd July 2022. If you have experiences or thoughts about outdoor education, you can respond HERE.
All responses will be carefully assessed and used to improve the proposed legislation before it comes to Parliament.
What experts are saying:
Martin Davidson of Outward Bound said:
“Outdoor residential experiences develop confidence, resilience and inter-personal skills, and help young people function well and thrive in life.
“In short, outdoor residentials provide unique and powerful experiences to develop the citizens required by tomorrow’s society to be economically and socially vibrant, and to tackle the global climate challenges we face.
“I 100% support Liz Smith’s MSP Member’s Bill that seeks to secure the entitlement for all young people to have the opportunity to benefit from an outdoor residential course as part of their education.”
Dave Spence of Scottish Outdoor Education Centres said:
“Residential Outdoor Learning is one of the most effective educational and development interventions that helps children develop the qualities and skills they will need to survive and thrive in a world of enormous upheaval.”
Sarah Paterson of YouthLink said:
“At the 2021 Scottish Elections YouthLink pressed all of Scotland’s political parties to offer more outdoor education opportunities, so we are very pleased to see this consultation and we will be responding positively to it.”
Education consultant Keir Bloomer said:
“Knowledge and life experience are the basis for learning. For many young people, perhaps particularly those from less advantaged backgrounds, a week at an outdoor centre is hugely enriching.
“Purposeful activity in the context of a shared social experience is very often formative and life-changing.”