Why is it important to keep the Arran Outdoor Education Centre (AOEC) open?
FACTS ABOUT OUTDOOR EDUCATION ON ARRAN
1. Outdoor Education is important to the well-being of our children.
Research has shown that it helps them to develop the personal resources to cope with the challenges of life by boosting self-confidence, physical and mental health, resilience, self-esteem and optimism.
2. “Studies have shown that the UK has among the lowest levels of well-being in the whole of Europe
and it is still declining in our children” For example, at the age of 15 British children on average are lowest for having a sense of purpose and have the second highest level of sadness. Source -OECD PISA Study The AOEC is not a luxury it is a valuable part of the Curriculum for Excellence through Outdoor Learning in North Ayrshire.
3. Residential Outdoor Education is of particular benefit.
The whole experience builds independence and resilience, boosts self-confidence and self-worth Children are away from home in a safe environment, are exposed to other people, sharing new experiences and are immersed in nature. They are tackling and overcoming challenges, working with other people and developing relationships, results in new skills and aspirations and can be life-changing.
4. The benefits of Outdoor Education to health and well-being are well documented and should be a priority.
Young people, in particular, have suffered from social isolation during the COVID 19 pandemic. It has had a detrimental effect on all in society but children are now less physically active and spend more time on social media, all of which are barriers to good health and well-being.
5 Outdoor Education educates young people about nature, biodiversity and the environment. As the world faces the effects of climate change educating the next generation to feel environmentally responsible and to be optimistic is essential to prepare them for the future.
6. AOEC is great value for money. It is run where possible as a business. Recent newspaper articles quoted a NAC figure to run the centre as £387,240. At first, this looks like great value for taxpayers' money. But this figure doesn't take into account the revenue the centre brings in, once this is deducted (outwith the COVID period) the cost of running the centre is up to 40% lower.
7. The people employed and their families live and spend on Arran contributing to island community life. The taxpayer's money spent by NAC on AOEC helps the island economy. Suppliers are mostly local so there are direct benefits to local businesses. NAC has a policy of helping islands to thrive. A high % of the island population is over the age of 60 so encouraging younger working people to the island and retaining them is vital.
8. AOEC also runs courses which contribute to the economy of the island by giving training to people involved in Outdoor businesses and pursuits on the island and by increasing the safety and well-being of those adults who gain skills and confidence in pursuing their hobby or business.
9. AOEC and its excellent facilities have been used as a centre for resilience during Covid and in the past during island emergencies. It is ideally suited and placed to be a headquarters for coordinating and planning action during times of trouble.
10. AOEC is well-managed and is a leader in good practice and excellence in the field of Outdoor Education. Its staff are well trained, and qualified with years of experience they offer the best and safest possible experience to able and disabled individuals.
11. No matter the children's background all children in North Ayrshire can experience Outdoor Education on Arran. In comparison to other local authority schools, all North Ayrshire schools only pay half the fees per pupil. The other half is often paid for by central government PEF funding, parents or by North Ayrshire taxpayers via NAC. This far-reaching political choice by North Ayrshire Councillors allows schools no matter what district within NAC, & no matter the child's background the opportunity to experience Outdoor Education in a residential setting
12. NAC Community Wealth Building policy would be broken if NAC decide to close AOEC as this would mean schools would have to pay double the cost and spend those funds in an area outwith North Ayrshire.