Green light for plans to secure outdoor centre’s future
Plans to secure the long-term future of Hill End outdoor education centre have been given the green light by Oxfordshire County Council.
Cabinet members have approved a business case for the Farmoor-based facility to be run by a new charitable organisation, and for the council to continue working alongside site owners Oxford University to bring the project to fruition.
The council has also agreed to provide one-off start-up and transition funding to put the new service model in place.
Both the university and the council wish to ensure Hill End continues to provide an excellent outdoor education service for both schoolchildren and the wider Oxfordshire population.
Establishing a charitable company would enable the centre to continue to deliver high quality services and meet ongoing running costs by unlocking new sources of funding.
In the meantime Hill End is open for business as usual and continues to welcome bookings and future reservations from schools and groups.
A consultation on the plans received 130 responses, with 89 per cent of people either stating they ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ with the idea of setting up a new charitable company taking on the centre.
Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families Melinda Tilley said: “We know how highly Oxfordshire residents value the services provided by Hill End, and both the council and our partners at Oxford University are committed to ensuring schools and other visitor groups continue to benefit from all that the centre has to offer.
“Hill End has a proud history of providing life-enhancing outdoor activities for Oxfordshire’s children, young people and the wider community. We want to ensure this work not only continues, but that there are also opportunities to enhance services in future.”
She added: “Establishing a charitable company or other entity to take on the management of the centre will open up opportunities to access new investment for the centre, and represents the best option to secure its long-term future.”
About Hill End
The Hill End site is owned by Oxford University and has been leased and managed by Oxfordshire County Council since 1974.
The council is currently responsible for investing in Hill End, making repairs to buildings, managing the land and running the outdoor education service there.
Outdoor learning at Hill End includes: education programmes, adult learning, training and workshops, forest school, family events and volunteering opportunities.