1. To ask the Scottish Government what discussions ministers have had with residential outdoor education centres regarding the provision of bed spaces for 2023. (S6O-01340)
The Scottish Government values the benefits of outdoor learning for children and young people, which includes the specific role of outdoor education centres. We have supported outdoor education centres with £4 million of Covid emergency funding to prevent closures during the Covid pandemic, and we have provided guidance to encourage and support visits by schools.
Ministers, Government officials and representatives of outdoor centres continue to discuss a wide range of issues relating to the sector on an on-going basis.
I thank the minister and the Scottish Government for the assistance that was provided to outdoor education centres during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, when many of them could not operate.
Their problems have been eased, but by no means have they been eradicated.
It is important that we have accurate data as to exactly what facilities are available, so that schools, in particular, can make informed decisions about where pupils can access residential facilities. Will the Scottish Government undertake to provide that data in conjunction with outdoor education centres?
I can provide Liz Smith with the latest data that sector representatives have shared with our officials. The data indicates that there is a capacity of 4,400 operational beds in around 50 centres across Scotland. However, that does not cover the full capacity of the sector, and the bed capacity figure does not take into account seasonal availability.
We will continue to engage with the sector and consider how we can more accurately reflect what is on offer to local authorities for bookings for schools and other organisations.