Bright future for outdoor centres under new management
Three outdoor education centres which have served Oxfordshire schoolchildren for nearly 50 years are looking at a bright future under new management.
The centres, based at locations in Wales and Devon but run by the county council, have been handed over to Groundwork South, a registered charity, under a 25-year contract which promises to unlock new sources of funding to improve facilities at the venues.
It means business as usual for the county’s schools – two-thirds of which currently book residential courses at Kilvrough on the Gower peninsula, Woodlands in the Brecon Beacons and Yenworthy on the north Exmoor coast.
Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services Melinda Tilley said: “Generations of Oxfordshire residents have enjoyed school trips and other outings to these outdoor centres and people of all ages will have fond memories of their time there.
“Groundwork South is an experienced charity and I have no doubt that the centres have a very bright future under their stewardship. We were determined to secure the future of these much-loved centres, and to ensure that they continue to serve the county’s schoolchildren. Becoming part of Groundwork South will enable them to attract new investment and sources of funding that were not accessible under local authority control.”
Jenny Bradley, Chairwoman for Groundwork South, added: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to continue the proud legacy of these outdoor centres that have meant so much to Oxfordshire schoolchildren.
“Groundwork has a long-track record of reconnecting children with their local environment in a way that gives them their confidence and resilience.
“We’re looking forward to working closely with existing staff at each of the centres to continue to provide the rich, rewarding experience they’ve become well-known for; while adding our experience of identifying funding and ways of growing the impact of the centres.”
Across the three centres, 5,016 people made visits in 2013/14, and the new contract ensures that 80 per cent of bookings will continue to be for Oxfordshire schools and community groups.
The centres provide high quality residential, outdoor learning opportunities including:
- packaged and tailored three-to-five-day multi-activity residential courses
- weekend and non-term time courses
- National Citizen Service residential courses
- Duke of Edinburgh Award programmes
- self- catering accommodation for group and individual hire.
Courses for schools are mainly adventure-based and include rock climbing, kayaking and canoeing, caving, orienteering, hill and mountain walking, surfing and body boarding. The focus is on raising self-confidence, resilience and awareness of others.
The centres also offer GCSE and A level curriculum courses in Geography, Biology and PE. They accommodate a wide range of non-school courses linked to working with vulnerable young people, adults and Oxfordshire communities.