A Cumbrian MP has secured a promise from the the Prime Minister to explore the possibility of allowing outdoor residential centres to open from March 8.
In the House of Commons last night, South Lakes MP Tim Farron quizzed Boris Johnson after he outlined his ‘roadmap’ for the country’s route out of lockdown.
Speaking in Parliament, Tim said: “The Prime Minister is right to prioritise education and to say that people can now do outdoor activities more freely – or, at least, they will be able to over the coming weeks and months – but he says nothing about outdoor education, which is an industry of vast importance to us in the Lakes and Dales, and of great value to young people right across the country.
“There are 15,000 people employed in the sector; at least, there were, but some 6,000 have now lost their jobs. If we lose that sector, it will be very difficult ever to get it back and we will suffer hugely as a country if that happens.
“Will the Prime Minister agree to reopen outdoor education for residential stays from the summer term, so that we can take advantage of the skills of the professionals in outdoor education to help our young people to re-engage with a love of learning and to tackle many of the mental health issues that they face?
“If he is not able to make that guarantee, will he at least do what has happened in Northern Ireland and Scotland by providing a bespoke financial package to support and save our outdoor education sector?”
Responding, Boris Johnson said: “The honourable gentleman makes a really interesting point.
“As he knows, indoor education is opening on March 8. Given that transmission is much less likely outdoors, I would have thought, a fortiori, that outdoor education should be able to open on the same date, but I will make sure that we get back to the honourable gentleman if that should, for any reason, turn out not to be the case.
“I cannot see why it should not be the case, but we will get back to him.”