The Outward Bound Trust’s ‘Let Us Out’ campaign calls for outdoor residential learning to be made part of the school curriculum.
Over 200 young people took to some of the UK’s most challenging peaks, to join a nationwide protest that calls for outdoor residentials to be made part of the school curriculum.
The protests come after research shows British kids are spending less time outside than their parents and European counterparts. At just over four hours a week, compared to 8.2 hours a week they spend half as much time playing outside as their parents did.
Worse, England ranks below its neighbours France and Germany in The Global Matrix 4.0 on Physical Activity for Children and Adolescents.
The impact of this lack of outdoor activity has long-lasting side effects, ranging from mental health issues to shortfalls in confidence and resilience.
· A recent report showing referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services increasing by 39% between 2020/21 and 2021/22, with 1.1 million under-18-year-olds referred.
· 58% of young people ranking mental health as one of the top three issues for their generation.
Teachers, parents and young people are grappling with these challenges every single day and this is worsened by a lack of outdoor play and adventure in the curriculum.
That’s why Outward Bound is throwing its weight behind the proposed Outdoor Education Bills and campaigning in England, Scotland and Wales, to make outdoor residentials a compulsory part of the curriculum.
Outdoor residentials, like Outward Bound, provide young people with rich, life-changing learning experiences that take place outside the classroom. They typically happen away from home and involve an overnight element to build resilience, self-confidence and a deeper connection with the natural and wider world.
“We are calling on politicians to make outdoor residential learning a priority and invest in our children’s future”, said Martin Davidson Chief Executive of Outward Bound. “Providers like us teach resilience, teamwork, and problem-solving skills, which are vitally important as we facedown this mental health crisis and many other societal and environmental challenges.”
Armed with flags and banners the young people could be heard chanting “Let Us Out!” as they brandished their placards and made their voices heard on the mountaintops.
Groups marched across some of the UK’s most well-known peaks and valleys including the English Lake District, Scottish Highlands and Eryri/Snowdonia in Wales to protest their case.
“I have seen firsthand the benefits of outdoor residentials,” said Marjorie, a teacher at St Mungos in Falkirk who’s students battles the elements in Scotland’s glens. “It has a transformative effect on our young people, helping them to grow and develop in ways that they never could in a classroom.”
Thea, a former Outward Bound participant aged 14 added: “I’ve learnt that I am capable of doing things that I have never done before. I can overcome my fears.”
Leo Houlding, world-class British Rock Climber and Mountaineer, also backed the campaign stating: “This is about achieving equity for outdoor learning, a value Outward Bound firmly believes in. That no matter who you are or where you are from, adventure should be available to everyone, not just those who can afford it.”
Tim Farron MP, Co-Chair of the Outdoor Learning APPG in Westminster emphasised the inclusive aspect, stating: “Outdoor education should not just be for the privileged. It should be an experience that is available to every young person from every school in our country.”
Echoing Sam’s sentiment, Liz Smith MSP added: “Outdoor education is hugely beneficial for both the mental and physical wellbeing of young people, which is so important, especially after the impact the pandemic has had on their education.”
“I fully support Outward Bound’s call for outdoor residentials to be part of the curriculum,” said Sam Rowlands MS the politician behind the Welsh Outdoor Education Bill. “There’s lots of evidence that shows when children engage with the outdoors, there’s a big reduction in physical health issues and in mental health issues. Learning to enjoy and play outside and have adventurous experiences makes such a difference for our children in the long run.”
Outward Bound’s Protest in the Peaks marks the start of their campaign to make outdoor residential learning part of the curriculum. They are asking individuals and organisations to join their movement by signing up at www.outwardbound.org.uk/let-us-out. Outward Bound’s mission is to inspire young people so they can achieve more than they ever thought possible. As a charity, they fund disadvantaged and underrepresented communities from across the UK to carefully balance risk and reward, whilst experiencing Britain’s wildest places.