Outdoor Education

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Education and Young People, Tourism, Culture and Sport – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 11th November 2004.

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Photo of Robin Harper Robin Harper Green 2:00 pm, 11th November 2004

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it is developing an outdoor education policy and, if so, when it will report on that policy. (S2O-4018)

Photo of Peter Peacock Peter Peacock Labour

I announced last month that I have asked Learning and Teaching Scotland to promote and support the development of outdoor education. Learning and Teaching Scotland is employing a development officer to drive forward progress.

Photo of Robin Harper Robin Harper Green

I understand that the development officer has not yet been appointed but will be expected to report in about two years' time. What will happen during those two years? A month ago, when the minister opened Kilbowie outdoor education centre at Oban, he said:

"Outdoor education can have tremendous benefits in the ... personal and social development of children of all ages, providing an important setting for young people to discover more about themselves and the world around them."

The minister continued by saying that he wanted

"more young people to experience the far-reaching benefits of outdoor education", to enrich their school lives and develop skills and interests that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. How will the minister progress those ambitions over the next two years?

Photo of Peter Peacock Peter Peacock Labour

I am enormously encouraged that Robin Harper takes the trouble to read my speeches and I wish that others would do likewise.

I share with Robin Harper a commitment to outdoor education, which can enrich people's learning and challenge young people in a variety of ways, by putting them into new settings that allow them to grow personally. I am convinced of that, why is why we have encouraged Learning and Teaching Scotland to take the route that it is taking and why we will fund the development officer post. I do not expect to wait two years to hear about progress in relation to that post. The appointment will be made in the early part of next year and will involve a dynamic process around auditing and identifying gaps in the current provision in Scotland, identifying good practice and sharing it more widely, seeking links between outdoor education and the curriculum and using outdoor education as a vehicle for all forms of learning. The new curriculum that we seek through the curriculum review should open up possibilities for that to happen more constructively than has been the case in the immediate past.

I expect a lot of progress in the next two years. I look forward to Robin Harper continuing to grill me on the issue, because I share with him the desire for improvement in that sphere of activity.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

Is the minister concerned about the deterrent effect on outdoor education of the wind forests that are being established, or are about to be established, throughout Scotland? As an example, I cite the 400 square miles of East Ayrshire that is destined to have 380 towers placed upon it, in a beautiful area of Scotland.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

The question is just acceptable. On you go, Mr Peacock.

Photo of Peter Peacock Peter Peacock Labour

I have always admired Phil Gallie's inventiveness, which the question demonstrates. I will not get drawn on the issue of wind farms. I look out from my house on to a wind farm and, personally, I find it attractive. It is artistic and I am grateful that it generates electricity in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. In principle, I support wind farming and green energy—I want energy to be generated in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Notwithstanding what Phil Gallie said about Ayrshire and other parts of Scotland, there is still plenty of space for people to enjoy the outdoors in Scotland.