Scottish Outdoor Education Centres

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Scottish Outdoor Education Centres's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Scottish Outdoor Education Centres is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

soec.org.uk

THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
32 | SCOTTISH OUTDOOR EDUCATION CENTRES
CEO DavidSpence receiving
archery instruction from a young
person with visual impairment
Rewilding
Scottish Outdoor Education Centres is an independent charity
that provides “quality learning opportunities” for schools and
groups across the country. David Spence says that its three
outdoor centres, Belmont, Broomlee and Dounans, provide great
bases to connect with the environment though study, activities
and exploration in beautiful rural surroundings. David discusses the
outcomes that the charity’s experiential learning offering has driven.
Eighty years ago, despite the terrifying prospect of another world war,
parliamentarians showed remarkable foresight by enacting a bill to establish
residential outdoor education centres. In Scotland, three remain operational under
the charity Scottish Environmental & Outdoor Education Centres Association.
Centres received the go-ahead in anticipation of a need for evacuation centres
and initially took young people from major cities as well as refugees from Eastern
Europe. At the end of the war, young people came from the Netherlands to escape
famine back home. In 1957 they provided the UK with the opportunity to help
refugees once more, this time for those fleeing the Soviet incursion of Hungary.
Parliamentarians intended the centres to be much more, describing them as a
major “educational experiment” and “possibly the most important since making
school attendance compulsory”. One MP affirmed that they would “look back
on this as the most important decision taken at the time” while in the Lords, one
bishop asserted that “out of evil comes good”.
As early as 1941, we were delivering outdoor learning, and since then over one million
young people have stayed at our centres in Scotland. Today, our mission is “toinspire,
FACTS ABOUT
SCOTTISH OUTDOOR
EDUCATIONCENTRES
»CEO: DavidSpence
»Founded in 1939
»Services: Outdoor education
centres
»No. of employees: 65
»Work with groups from across
Scotland and England as well
as overseas
»Centres in Stirlingshire,
Perthshire and Scottish
Borders
Scottish Outdoor
Education Centres
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
32 | SCOTTISH OUTDOOR EDUCATION CENTRES
CEO DavidSpence receiving
archery instruction from a young
person with visual impairment
Rewilding
Scottish Outdoor Education Centres is an independent charity
that provides “quality learning opportunities” for schools and
groups across the country. David Spence says that its three
outdoor centres, Belmont, Broomlee and Dounans, provide great
bases to connect with the environment though study, activities
and exploration in beautiful rural surroundings. David discusses the
outcomes that the charity’s experiential learning offering has driven.
Eighty years ago, despite the terrifying prospect of another world war,
parliamentarians showed remarkable foresight by enacting a bill to establish
residential outdoor education centres. In Scotland, three remain operational under
the charity Scottish Environmental & Outdoor Education Centres Association.
Centres received the go-ahead in anticipation of a need for evacuation centres
and initially took young people from major cities as well as refugees from Eastern
Europe. At the end of the war, young people came from the Netherlands to escape
famine back home. In 1957 they provided the UK with the opportunity to help
refugees once more, this time for those fleeing the Soviet incursion of Hungary.
Parliamentarians intended the centres to be much more, describing them as a
major “educational experiment” and “possibly the most important since making
school attendance compulsory”. One MP affirmed that they would “look back
on this as the most important decision taken at the time” while in the Lords, one
bishop asserted that “out of evil comes good”.
As early as 1941, we were delivering outdoor learning, and since then over one million
young people have stayed at our centres in Scotland. Today, our mission is “toinspire,
FACTS ABOUT
SCOTTISH OUTDOOR
EDUCATIONCENTRES
»CEO: DavidSpence
»Founded in 1939
»Services: Outdoor education
centres
»No. of employees: 65
»Work with groups from across
Scotland and England as well
as overseas
»Centres in Stirlingshire,
Perthshire and Scottish
Borders
Scottish Outdoor
Education Centres
33SCOTTISH OUTDOOR EDUCATION CENTRES |
EDUCATION SERVICES
motivate and empower young people to
develop the qualities and skills that they
will need in theirfuture”.
The activities we offer are packaged into
programmes for specific outcomes such
as transition to work. With continuity
and progression over consecutive
days or several months, young people
develop qualities and skills identified by
industry and business leaders as those
needed in the future workforce.
Remarkable outcomes
Our work has shown some remarkable
outcomes. In one class, two pupils
had restricted their diet, and another
was self-selective mute. Within three
days, two were eating a wide range of
healthy foods and the third was singing
in the shower and chatting to teachers
who quipped they “couldn’t shut her up
if they’d wanted to”. They knew these
pupils had been taken out of school for
half a day every fortnight for six years
to see specialists with no noticeable
improvement. Such changes supporting
mental health and wellbeing are regular
occurrences at residential centres.
Our work is more important than ever
as we go through another period
of heightened awareness about our
impact on the environment. Proposed
solutions tend to be change driven:
change technologies – more use of
renewables, driverless cars – or change
behaviour – travel less, use less, recycle
more. Politicians know that if people
feel changes are imposed upon them,
they will be reluctant, even resistant,
tochange.
Sustainable solutions
Sustainable solutions are about the
decisions and choices that we make.
We are already being forced to adapt,
but adults beyond a certain age tend to
look to the past. The best thing decision-
makers can do today is to take action
to ensure young people develop the
qualities and skills that they will need in
order to survive and thrive in their future.
This will not be easy. We want young
people to be confident, connected to
the environment, adaptable and brave.
Research shows they lack confidence;
that screen time is increasing; that
many display behaviours that impede
educational and social development.
Teachers lead the way, but they cannot
do it all. They need partners. Outdoor
specialists are “other educators” able
to collaborate with teachers to add
value to curriculum outcomes. We
are hampered by austerity, practically
and psychologically. For teachers
under financial and staffing pressures,
taking students out of school is just
another set of problems too onerous
to consider. Essential collaboration is
fanciful when a potential partner is
pressed for time or feels under threat.
Addressing the symptoms
Austerity also creates the allure
of faddish responses. We address
symptoms – obesity, knife crime,
bullying, drugs – and direct money to
consultants to redirect teachers and to
local authority officials to compile tick
lists showing action taken. Meanwhile
there is no uptick in the number of
young people directly benefiting from
being active in the outdoors. It has to be fun for
young people to explore
their world
Today, our
mission is ‘to
inspire,
motivate and
empower
young people
to develop the
qualities and
skills that they
will need in
their future’
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
34 | SCOTTISH OUTDOOR EDUCATION CENTRES
Austerity is also bringing the trend of
centre closure to a head. For those
doing the most to engage young
people in outdoor learning – the
residential centre staff teams – the
future is bleak. We are sleepwalking
into the demise of residential outdoor
learning experiences for young people
in Scotland.
Most young people live in and are
often constrained to urban areas. We
need centres where tens of thousands
of young people can connect to the
countryside annually, be inspired by
it, and enjoy experiences in it while
safeguarding it. If we fail to connect
young people to the environment, they
will consider it an irrelevance and they
will not be motivated to take action to
“save the planet”, whatever form that
might take.
Providing over 100,000 learning days
in the outdoors every year, SOEC
generates £1.5 million. As a not-
for-profit social enterprise, income
is cycled into the local and national
economy through salaries and supplies.
Employing up to 65 people, the
centres are often the largest employers
in the rural areas where they are
located. Parents mostly pay for these
experiences, but the environmental
and social benefits are significant;
SOEC’s return on investment ratio has
been determined to be £1:£11.
Urgent action required
The next generations must be more
confident and resilient, better team
players and a whole lot more. They
must master these qualities and skills
if they are to see the opportunities of
change and not be disempowered by
the threats of a rapidly changing world.
Young people need residential outdoor
learning experiences more than ever.
Politicians and business leaders must
take action to ensure that young people
benefit from these powerful experiences.
We must pivot our efforts towards
enabling more young people to directly
benefit from experiential learning. The
third sector can help with child centre
commitment and cost-effective delivery.
In 1939 parliamentarians showed
courageous foresight and commitment
to create outdoor centres when their
backs were very much to the wall.
Young people still benefit from their
decision. It will take this generation
of politicians and business leaders to
ensure this option remains available for
young people inthe future.
We want young
people to be
confident,
connected to
the
environment,
adaptable and
brave. Research
shows they lack
confidence; that
screen time is
increasing; that
many display
behaviours that
impede
educational and
social
development
Communication,
problem solving, safety
consciousness, teamwork
– big outcomes from a
little rope

soec.org.uk

This article was sponsored by Scottish Outdoor Education Centres. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development