Skip to content

Senedd narrowly rejects Outdoor Education Bill

The Senedd has voted by the narrowest of margins against moving forward with a proposal to make outdoor education available to all Welsh school children. 

On Wednesday 17 April it met to consider the general principles of the Outdoor Education (Wales) Bill, tabled by Sam Rowlands MS (North Wales, Con). The Bill required majority approval to progress, but instead the Senedd rejected it by 26 votes to 25.

The Bill forms part of a cross-UK and cross-party effort to support outdoor education, initiated by the Outward Bound Trust and supported by the Countryside Alliance. In Scotland, Liz Smith MSP (Mid Scotland and Fife, Con) has promoted her Schools (Residential Outdoor Education) (Scotland) Bill, whereas in England, Tim Farron MP (Westmorland and Lonsdale, LD) is bringing an Outdoor Education Bill to highlight the value and importance of giving children access to outdoor residential programmes. 

Prior to the debate the Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee held a consultation to which the Countryside Alliance responded positively; we also circulated our response to Members. We pointed out that The Countryside Alliance Foundation is already active in creating outdoor opportunities through our Fishing for Schools programme, which gives pupils, primarily of urban schools, an experience of angling. Making residential outdoor education opportunities available to all pupils across the country would contribute still more to their understanding and appreciation of rural Britain. At a time of continued poverty of understanding in urban areas of the realities of rural life, we believe this is vital. 

While the Bill failed owing to a lack of support from the Welsh Government, primarily for financial reasons, there were some positive signals from its front bench. Lynne Neagle MS (Torfaen, Lab), the Cabinet Secretary for Education, said that it has recognised the value of outdoor education in its Curriculum for Wales and “expects schools to develop learning opportunities outdoors, from ages three through to 16”. While this falls short of the ambition to provide residential opportunities to all children the principle, at least, is agreed. 

The Countryside Alliance will continue to campaign across the UK to bring the benefits of outdoor education to as many young people as possible. Please consider supporting our work by joining us today. 

Become a member

Join the Countryside Alliance

We are the most effective campaigning organisation in the countryside.

  • life Protect our way of life
  • news Access our latest news
  • insurance Benefit from insurance cover
  • magazine Receive our magazine