Outdoor education ‘under attack’

Outdoor Education pursuits.
Outdoor Education pursuits.

NISPA have hit out at plans for the provision of residential outdoor education centres in Northern Ireland, saying they are “under sttack”.

A NISPSA spokesperson said: “The Education Authority is proposing to close up to five of our eight statutory Outdoor Education Centres.

Concerned volunteers at the Lurgan 'Save Your Outdoor Education Centres' petition signing supported by NIPSA and Craigavon Trades Council.

Concerned volunteers at the Lurgan 'Save Your Outdoor Education Centres' petition signing supported by NIPSA and Craigavon Trades Council.

“Killowen, Ardnabannon, Bushmills and Delamont are scheduled for closure later this year and a threat also hangs over the future of Killyleagh.”

Concerned volunteers recently gathered at the Lurgan ‘Save Your Outdoor Education Centres’ petition signing supported by NIPSA and Craigavon Trades Council. The spokesperson added: “In addition there would be a major reduction in weekend provision with the remaining centres only operating at weekends during July and August.

“This would have a massive impact on centre availability for all voluntary, faith based and uniformed youth groups.

“Outdoor Education Centres are used widely by our local schools and youth groups and are invaluable to the education and development of our young people.

“They offer a unique learning experience in a friendly, save environment and also provide the opportunity for shared learning under which young people can develop a greater understanding of themselves and of others.

“The closure of these centres will deprive thousands upon thousands of our young people of all that the centres offer, not only now but for generations to come.

“The four centres being proposed for closure are well suited to the learning and educational demand that exists from schools and the full range of youth organisations, including a number of voluntary organisations.

“Statutory centres are considered to provide excellent value for money and to a very high standard beyond that of the voluntary sector.

“The Education Authority’s proposal is currently out for public consultation until Monday, February 6 so if you feel you would like to add your voice to the large number of those who have already expressed their concerns, guidance and example letters are available on the NIPSA website www.nipsa.org.uk.”