NI Sports Forum alongside some of its members and other union representatives met with the Education Committee of the NI Assembly on Wednesday to discuss proposals to close Outdoor Education Centres in Delamont, Bushmills, Killowen and Ardnabannon following a report by the Education Authority.
The Education Committee heard from representatives from Mountaineering Ireland, Canoe Association NI, RYA NI and NI Orienteering on how the proposed closures would have a detrimental impact on the access to outdoor activity for our schools and local youth groups. Alongside NASUWT and NIPSA, a strong case for retaining the centres was provided alongside a recognition of a new strategic approach to outdoor activity provision in Northern Ireland. The Education Committee which is chaired by Barry McElduff MLA outlined the importance in engaging with the Education Authority who will make the final call on the proposals following the consultation process. There was a consensus amongst our members and stakeholders that the consultation process to this point has been less than adequate.
Alongside our members who spoke passionately about the benefits of outdoor education, NISF, NIPSA and the NASUWT were very open about their willingness to work alongside the Education Authority to ensure that experience and knowledge of those involved in service provision could lead to a new strategic direction and approach to outdoor education which would ensure financial sustainability and continued development of the experiences provided to those who use the centres.
Before the consultation closes on February 6th, NISF will seek to engage directly with the Education Authority and would encourage all schools, parents, members and stakeholders to provide written consultation responses. Further information can be found here
Pictured L-R- Richard Finlay, Ashley Hunter (CANI), Gregg McCann (NI Orienteering), Ciaran Kearney (NISF) Richard Honeyford (RYA NI), Murrough McDonagh (Mountaineering Ireland).