‘Support our sector or face a lost generation of learners’ Shropshire charity urges

Thousands of students could become part of a lost generation of learners unless England and Wales follow Scotland’s lead in pledging vital funding to support outdoor learning centres. 

That is the warning from leading UK charity the Field Studies Council (FSC), which has its headquarters near Shrewsbury and welcomes 150,000 students each year to its network of residential centres. 

The charity welcomed Scotland’s £2m intervention for the outdoor education sector and is urging governments in England and Wales to follow suit. 

Mark Castle, Chief Executive, has written to the Prime Minister about the crisis. 

“Without support, thousands of students across the UK will lose out on the opportunity to develop vital skills at centres like ours,” he said. 

“Scotland has led the way but what we really need is recognition right across the UK about the role outdoor education has to play now and in the future. And that means governments in England and Wales need to step up and support our sector.” 

Mr Castle wrote to Boris Johnson in the summer calling for action and more recently has highlighted his concerns for the sector in a letter to Nick Gibb, the minister of state for school standards. 

The charity, which has provided outdoor education for 75 years and would usually welcome around 150,000 school learners a year to its network of Scottish, Welsh and English field study centres, is also playing a vital role in lobbying MPs on the challenges facing the sector. 

“As well as financial assistance, the sector needs the Government to consider how it can address the future of outdoor education and the losses we are set to experience as a nation,” said Mr Castle. 

"In years to come Britain faces a major skills crisis and a lost generation of learners because of the coronavirus crisis. 

“Many students have missed out on the opportunity to develop vital analytical and practical science skills because of the restrictions on outdoor learning and these are the very attributes which will be needed to deliver so much of government policy in years to come. 

“We are deeply concerned about this potential skills gap later down the line and for this reason we need governments to collectively start engaging with the sector and having some meaningful discussions about the future of outdoor education right across the UK.” 

For further information about FSC, its courses and educational work visit the website https://www.field-studies-council.org/about-us/.