YHA – Access Unlimited report provides evidence that outdoor education sector can be re-opened safely

In support of the Save Outdoor Education movement, the Access Unlimited coalition is offering practical support, research and evidence to government as it develops the roadmap for safely re-opening the sector.

The coalition of not-for-profit school residential and educational providers – YHA, The Outward Bound Trust, Scouts, Girlguiding, Field Studies Council and the National Parks – have remained operational throughout the pandemic providing outdoor learning experiences to young people, families and volunteers.

The learnings gained by the Access Unlimited coalition have been compiled in a report – ‘Safe, fun and flexible approaches to educational activities outdoors’ – which has been launched this month. The report, Access Coalition believes, is a Blueprint to re-opening the outdoor education sector and sooner rather than later.

The inequalities of access to the outdoors and green spaces that existed pre-COVID have only been compounded by the pandemic.  Within Access Unlimited members alone half a million children have missed out on a school residential this year and more than two million households are living through lockdown without a garden.

Dedicated to ensuring that the gap in experiences between those who have access to the outdoors and green spaces and those who don’t doesn’t continue, the report details how outdoor education providers can adapt their services in a safe and COVID-secure way, to meet the needs of young people.

All coalition members have continued to deliver their services in-line with government guidance throughout the pandemic. Experiences have included family breaks at Youth Hostels, young ranger volunteering activities in the Yorkshire Dales, taking adventure into classrooms and outdoor meetings for Girlguiding.

Anita Kerwin-Nye, our Director of Strategy and Engagement explained: “As a coalition of outdoor education providers we are tremendously grateful to the government for the Furlough scheme and the support it has given the sector. However, now we must be practical and look to the future where we can re-open in a safe and COVID-secure way. As our research and evidence shows in the report, it is absolutely possible to do this, Access Unlimited is now in a position to support the government in the development of its roadmap to re-opening the sector.”

Read the report here.