Bewerley Park outdoor education centre in Nidderdale could be at risk

A residential outdoor education centre in Nidderdale could be at risk due to the levels of investment needed and a loss of income.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 4:02 pm

North Yorkshire County Council has started an extensive consultation process on the future of Bewerley Park Centre as it considers whether the service can continue as it is.

The facility, along with East Barnby Outdoor Education Centre near Whitby, is part of North Yorkshire’s Outdoor Learning Service and offers week-long residential trips for primary school pupils.

The pandemic has had a significant financial impact on the service, which has lost the majority of its £2.25m annual income since March 2020 when the first lockdown was implemented.

Bewerley Park outdoor education centre in Nidderdale could be at risk
Bewerley Park outdoor education centre in Nidderdale could be at risk

The sites also need significant investment - the huts which make up the Bewerley Park estate were built as temporary structures in 1939, with an expected life span of ten to twenty years.

Created mainly from wood, they have become increasingly expensive to maintain, requiring frequent repairs.

Both centres will be considered under the review, which will involve teachers, local organisations, young people and residents.

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“The review will look at what kind of activities we provide in the future, how we use the estate, the facilities we provide and how we make it a sustainable service.

“We’re looking at this from every angle – including whether we need to work collaboratively with partners in the future, or if we are able to continue with the service as it is.”

The engagement process will gather the views of different organisations through questionnaires, user groups and other channels to determine what North Yorkshire’s Outdoor Learning

Service should look like in the future and what services it should provide for the county’s young people.

The county council is currently talking to individuals and organisations with an interest in outdoor learning services, including young people, existing outdoor learning staff and other stakeholders. A user group has been established, along with a project board, and a questionnaire is being sent to all schools in North Yorkshire, include primary, secondary, special schools, academies and Pupil Referral Services, to understand which aspects of outdoor education are most important.

Focus discussion groups are taking place with secondary pupils, while primary school children who have visited one of the centres will be taking part in an art session looking at what worked, what could have been better and what their ideal setting would look like.

To take part in the engagement and provide your views, email: [email protected]