Shropshire charity the Field Studies Council has welcomed the Government’s decision to bring the guidance on school visits in line with the ‘roadmap’.
The charity, which has been providing environmental education for 75 years and welcomes 150,000 learners a year to its UK network of field study centres, said it was now preparing a timetable for welcoming back learners for day trips from 12th April and for overnight stays from 17th May.
The DfE has said that all dates are subject to change and all advice regarding school trips will be updated in line with the roadmap but a book with confidence scheme offered by FSC means schools wishing to book trips have added flexibility.
The charity’s entire network of centres has been closed for school groups since March last year due to the coronavirus pandemic although its education teams have continued to support pupils with environmental education by delivering a series of online lessons during lockdown.
Charity Chief Executive Mark Castle said: “It’s a huge relief to all of us to have some dates to work towards. We have never asked for special treatment, only to be allowed to follow the roadmap. It means we can slowly begin welcoming learners back to our Covid-secure centres and play, what we believe, to be a vital role in the nationwide school catch-up programme.
“Being able to open our centres again means we can support teachers and school pupils, both of which have faced an incredibly challenging year. We can help re-connect children with their friends in inspirational places; we can provide acres of wide-open spaces for children to safely learn, play and improve their well-being and, most importantly, we can help make up for lost learning time.
“There really isn’t a single lesson in the school day which cannot be enriched by connecting to nature, or a subject on the curriculum that can’t be enhanced by outdoor learning and our team of specialised tutors are raring to get going and provide whatever support they can.
“For older pupils they will be helping cement in-class learning with practical skills and real-life experiences and for younger primary pupils they will be helping to rebuild confidence by using the environment and natural world to motivate and re-engage them with learning again.
“The benefits of spending time at our centres are endless and we cannot wait to get back to doing what we do best after such a challenging 12 months.”