Hill End poised for bright future under new management

A bright and bold future has been secured for Hill End Outdoor Education Centre under the stewardship of a new charitable company.

The popular centre, which has a proud history of providing life-enhancing activities for Oxfordshire’s children and the wider community, has been formally handed over to the Hill End Charity after decades under the management of the county council.

The transferral will enable the centre to go from strength to strength, unlocking new sources of funding to improve services and meet ongoing running costs. Each year more than 15,000 young people and residents from across the county visit the centre based at Farmoor, just outside Oxford.

Leading venue

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Education Hilary Hibbert-Biles said: “Hill End has a richly deserved reputation as a first-class outdoor education centre. Local schoolchildren have enjoyed memorable trips there over many years, and it has also become a leading venue providing activities for the wider community.

“We were absolutely determined to secure the centre’s future, and establishing a charitable company to take over the reins was the best option to achieve this. I’m delighted we’ve successfully completed the transition and everyone associated with the centre can focus on providing an even better service for visitors.”


Hill End Trustee Dr Elizabeth Gemmill said: “We’re very honoured to take on responsibility for this wonderful outdoor education centre, which has served Oxfordshire so well over the years. We now have the opportunity to make further improvements to facilities and secure the centre’s future for generations to come.”

The handover follows a consultation jointly-held last year by the council and site owner Oxford University, seeking views on the future management of the centre.

Almost 90 per cent of the 130 people who responded agreedthe option of setting up an independent charitable company to run Hill End should be taken forward. The council began working alongside the university last summer to establish the new charity, with arrangements coming to fruition in July 2017.

About Hill End

Hill End is owned by Oxford University, which acquired the site from the Ffennell family. The centre was leased and managed by Oxfordshire County Council from 1974 to 2017.

The charity has taken over responsibility for providing the outdoor education facilities and services at Hill End so that children and young people will continue to benefit from the opportunities available at this unique and very special place.

Outdoor learning at Hill End includes: education programmes, adult learning, training and workshops, forest school, family events and volunteering opportunities.


Cllr Hibbert-Biles (centre) hands over the 'keys' to the Hill End Centre to Trustee Dr Elizabeth Gemmill and, left, Centre Manager Selby Dickinson