Schools Outdoor Learning update from AHOEC & OEAP Cymru

From AHOEC Cymru and OEAP Cymru:

“Annwyl bawb/Hi everyone,

“AHOEC Cymru and OEAP Cymru met with Welsh Government education officials on Friday 29th January. We continued the conversation where we left off at the end of 2020 and unfortunately many of the issues that were prevalent at the start of the Autumn term are still with us.  As per our previous meetings, Welsh Government have been very responsive to our point of view, and the impact that current restrictions are having on our sector.

“Reports / Covid operating procedures etc. shared with Welsh Government have been well received.  As we move forward  we need to work together to develop the road map to recovery, it’s clear that work to date has highlighted issues as well as a commitment to provide assurances that when the time is right, educational visits/ outdoor learning and residential outdoor education can be conducted safely.

“Welsh Government are continuing discussions on current restrictions with colleagues within the other UK Governments, and assured us this will continue. It’s clear that Welsh Government are taking this very seriously and are working on gathering information and understanding the position of the sector on several key issues.

“WG understand the need for clarity, and discussions have been held with economy/ business support department, and looking at which sectors have received financial help,  what ongoing support will be made available, and whether a more nuanced approach would help address the challenges facing sectors.

“WG are keen to work to ensure outdoor learning opportunities and best practices are shared. Guidance needs to be clear and pragmatic. Schools will need to make best use of their school grounds and local resources; we need to ensure clear and concise messaging with clear risk management supported through Local Authority Education Visits advisers. This, along with the work done by Graham French (AHOEC N. Wales chair) in highlighting best practice is a positive step forward. We will continue to work to ensure that we work collectively to look at what further steps can be taken to promote the development of outdoor learning, and build confidence in schools getting out and about again

“We are mindful that there are still many difficult questions to be answered, and many are facing difficult times ahead.  It’s clear that WG want to both listen and work with us. To that end, please keep the lines of communication open. We (OEAP Cymru / AHOEC) are happy to have direct discussions with you, and as we move forward it’s really important that we work collectively to ensure that outdoor learning experiences are central to helping young people recover from the impact of this health emergency.

“Our key areas of work:

  1. Commit to working with Welsh Government to demonstrate the effectiveness of the sector in terms of operating procedures and risk assessments.
  2. Work collectively to look at what further steps can be taken to promote the development of outdoor learning and to safeguard it’s future here in Wales,
  3. Build confidence in schools getting out and about again”

Mike Rosser/Arwel Elias/Dave Evans OEAP Cymru & Graham French/Andy Meek AHOEC 

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