The Outdoor Education (Wales) Bill will establish a statutory duty on local authorities to ensure that Wales’ young people have the opportunity to participate in a week long, residential Outdoor Education visit at some point during their school career. The Bill will also put funding in place to enable local authorities and schools to deliver these exciting experiences for our youngsters. Click here to tell me if you're backing the bill.
The draft Bill was published during July 2023. Click here to read the Bill online.
Backbenchers in the Welsh Parliament are occasionally able to enter a ballot to have their name selected to develop a new piece of legislation. When a MS’ proposal is selected in the ballot, the entire Welsh Parliament will vote on whether to spend time on developing a bill to give effect to the new legislation.
Sam’s proposal for an Outdoor Education Bill was selected in a ballot in July 2022, and the Welsh Parliament narrowly voted to support progressing the bill on 26th October 2022, with 25 MSs backing the bill and 24 voting against. You can find out how each MS voted online here and read the Explanatory Memorandum presented to MSs before the debate here.
The aim of the Bill is to move residential Outdoor Education from an enrichment activity to an entitlement within Wales’ curriculum. The main benefits for Welsh learners are:
- Improved physical and mental health and wellbeing,
- Better personal and social learning, as well as cognitive development,
- Enhanced educational attainment and standards.
With healthier lifestyles and better education standards, the benefits of residential Outdoor Education visits for young people are clear. However, there’s no requirement for local authorities to make this opportunity available to youngsters. Evidence shows a significant variation between local authorities across Wales, and worryingly, children living in Wales’ most affluent areas are twice as likely to take part in a residential Outdoor Education visit that those living in areas with high levels of deprivation. There is no way that this unfair postcode lottery can continue. Our aspiration must be for all schools across Wales to enable their learners to reach their potential. It isn’t right that young people from less affluent areas miss out. The Bill will extend the opportunity to experience a week long, residential Outdoor Education visit to children the length and breadth of Wales, and Level Up our education system so that no one is left behind.
None of this will be possible without the necessary funding. Financial priorities within local authorities change as pressures across their services vary. The Bill will make sure that the Welsh Government fund this new opportunity for our young people, ensuring that the new policy is sustainable. Initial estimates put the annual cost of the Bill between £9.9 million and £13.6 million, less than 0.06% of the Welsh Government’s total budget. There is the potential for the Bill to deliver cost savings to other public services through improved health, wellbeing and education outcomes. This is an affordable investment in the future of Wales’ young people that we shouldn’t be missed.
How you can help
Not everyone knows that they have five Members of the Welsh Parliament who represent them, one Member of the Welsh Parliament who represents their constituency and four who represent their region. If you support the Outdoor Education Bill, you can contact your MSs and ask them to support it too - we need 31 supporters for it to pass and become law. You can use your postcode to find your five Welsh Parliament Members and write to them by visiting writetothem.com. And don't forget to click here to tell me if you're backing the bill.
Click here to visit the Welsh Parliament's website to find out even more about the Outdoor Education Bill.