UK Outdoors Transformation Group Update – September 20208th October 2020
Over the last few months the work undertaken by the UK Outdoors Transformation Group has picked up in terms of pace and the scope. The focus still remains on the Association for Heads of Outdoor Education Centres (AHOEC), Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL), and the Outdoor Council (OC) continuing to exploring the development of a single representative organisation. Building on the underpinning principles of collaboration and partnership, this work is now actively being shared with organisational representatives from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England to ensure this development is not carried out in isolation and reflects the broader interests from across the geographic area of the UK.
In taking this work forward the group has begun to focus on four key themes:
- Membership: In exploring the development of any new single organisation the interests of the membership that makes up the individual organisations will remain at the very heart of all that we do. At the end of any process, such as this, we would want all our members to feel that they have a place and very much belong to any new organisation. We are, after all, nothing without our members. There will be a wide range of benefits that will emerge such as:
1. Membership options and tailored benefits for all organisations and individual members or one fee
2. More effective administration and communications
3. More efficient use of time in terms of professional meetings and conferences
4. Access to a wide range and depth of CPD opportunities and sharing of good practice
- Professional Standards: They are very much looking to build on all the current work led by IOL around Apprenticeships, Accreditation, Professional Recognition and the aim of developing a Chartered Institute. This provides many exciting opportunities in terms of personal development and professionalisation of the sector. There will, of course, remain a focus on research to inform best practice and professional development.
- Accreditation: Work continues to develop ‘Option 3’ as an industry led accreditation scheme to replace AALA and we have been liaising closely with Adventure UK who are leading on this and who oversee Adventuremark. It is becoming clear that both Adventure UK and UK Outdoors Transformation Group have a common interest in effectively co-ordinating their work to provide a more holistic approach to accreditation.
- Voice: Work to bring together a single voice for this sector has been on-going for many years. The current health emergency has certainly thrown the need to work and lobby effectively together as one sector into the spotlight. IOL and Outdoor Council has co-ordinated the sectors efforts up until now and would certainly benefit from being part of a single ‘go to’ organisation that was recognised both within and beyond our sector. This external view of who they are and what they do is really important in terms of influencing and drawing together other partners.
Their vision is a UK-wide society where the value and benefits of regular, purposeful lifelong engagement with the outdoors is acknowledged as a natural part of life. Through partnership and collaboration, they want more people to understand, connect, participate and benefit from the outdoor environment. This can only enrich the work that they do and make their approaches as inclusive as possible. As with the home nations there is a positive engagement with organisations such as the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom and the Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel.
This is an exciting project that is developing at pace.