In addition to the £2.5 million that we have provided to the sector over the past 18 months, we work with the sector on an on-going basis to support schools to access and use outdoor centres and to ensure that our Covid-19 guidance provides clear advice on safe and supported visits to centres. The most recent update to that guidance, which removed caps on the number of young people within dorms and tents, was issued on 19 August.
The programme for government contains a number of commitments, including commitments to trial Scotland’s first outdoor primary learning facilities, to provide support for children to go on curriculum-related trips including primary 6 and 7 residentials, and to give secondary school pupils the right to go on at least one optional trip during their time at school.
I thank the minister for that update. One of the most urgent concerns remains the future viability of around a third of our outdoor education centres. Even more important is the future employment of the very highly specialised members of their staff, whose skills are absolutely crucial to the education of our young people, especially after the Covid pandemic.
I therefore press the Scottish Government on what it is doing to secure the future of our outdoor education centres.
Liz Smith may be interested to know that, on 10 August, I met the Outward Bound Trust Scotland Scouts and the chair of the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres. Some of the issues that Liz Smith has raised were raised during that meeting, and it was agreed that officials would follow up in order to gather more detailed information and evidence. A further meeting between officials is being arranged for sometime in the next few weeks.
Our learning for sustainability action plan, which includes climate education, contains actions to support teaching skills in sustainability education, to develop and promote qualifications relating to sustainability and to encourage schools to take a whole-school approach.
To coincide with the 26th United Nations climate change conference of the parties—COP26—summit, Education Scotland is providing a series of online countdown-to-COP26 events for schools, and the learning for sustainability awards 2021, which will be announced on 27 October, will also help to gather and share examples of sustainability education across Scotland. I am sure that that will include outdoor education, Presiding Officer.