Review of Outdoor Activity Centre Provision

Have you or your children benefited from a stay or day visit to one of the Statutory Outdoor Centres owned and managed by the Education Authority?

 [Killowen, Ardnabannon, Gortatole, Shanaghmore, Woodhall, Delamont, Killyleagh or Bushmills Outdoor Education Centres]

 You may be aware of the review of outdoor education, presently out for public consultation, and the proposed recommendations contained within. Whilst we all accept these are difficult times financially, we are extremely concerned with both the process of how the review was undertaken and the criteria used within the report  which has resulted in the proposed recommendations. Most notable of which is the closure of 4 centres: Ardnabannon, Bushmills, Delamont and Killowen Outdoor Centres and the possible closure of the residential service at Killyleagh.

  • This would be of approximately 70% of residential places available to schools and youth groups within the Education Authority and the ending of day visit provision at the 4 centres including the field study provision at Killowen.

 ● In addition there would be a slashing in weekend provision across the remaining 3 centres with these only operating at weekends during July and August;

● These statutory centres provide a highly valued service to schools and youth groups;

● The closure of statutory outdoor education centres would have a massive detrimental impact on the education of our young people;

Outdoor education is used to develop and foster positive attitudes and skills as varied as;

● Health and Wellbeing;

● Citizenship;
● Cross Community Work;
● Life skills;
● Personal and Social development;
● Environmental education;
● Self-Esteem and confidence building;
● Physical fitness;
● Providing lifelong interests for example,
hill walking, canoeing, orienteering.

We say – As an alternative to these proposals a new model should be developed using the expertise that lies within the Outdoor Education service (None of this expertise was involved in the review process) with the involvement of other interested parties including schools, youth groups and adventure sporting bodies. The new model should address some of the legacy problems from having formerly operated on the five Board structure. In fact the Priorities for Youth policy, read in context, acknowledges this point. That policy is not about closure, it is very much about a critical role for the statutory sector in providing residential and outdoor formal and non-formal education. The policy encourages collaboration and that needs to be explored as part of the new model moving forward. The closure of the centres only serve to work against these policy objectives and for that reason, amongst others, must be opposed. The alternative is to now engage on the development of the new model in which all existing statutory centres have a key role.

If you are concerned with the dismembering of this important and invaluable Educational Resource then read on to make a difference.

There is an official consultation to the proposed implementation plan arising from the review.  Whilst we say that this is poorly constructed and widely flawed it still an official means of responding.  If you do not understand a question fully there is an ‘UNCERTAIN’ box to tick, there is a useful comments box at the end of question 14 which you are encouraged to complete with your thoughts however long or short.

THIS CLOSES on MONDAY 6th FEBRUARY!!!Sign the NIPSA petition to save Ardnabannon, Bushmills, Delamont and Killowen and remove the threat of closure at Killyleagh. Access our petition via the NIPSA website at

or via the campaign Facebook page

● You can download and print a copy of the petition if you wish to collect signatures and return them to NIPSA addressed:

Save Your Outdoor Education Centres, NIPSA, 54 Wellington Park, Belfast, BT9 6DP.
Submit a written response to the consultation document. Points that need to be made can be found on the above NIPSA website page. This pre-prepared document can be downloaded signed and posted to:

Dr Clare Mangan, The Director of Children and Young People Services, Education Authority, 40 Academy Street, Belfast BT1 2NQ.

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