Outdoor Learning Service statement

By on 17/03/2014 in Cabinet, Cllr Jones

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Click on the audio link above to hear Cllr Jones explaining the background to the decision.

Statement from Councillor Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children and family services.

The outdoor learning service has been running at a deficit of a million pounds every year, plus estimated ongoing repair costs of over £4m. Facing such drastic cuts to our funding we simply cannot afford to run all our discretionary services, such as the OLS, in the same way, and having considered all options, sadly we believe we have no alternative but to withdraw as a provider. 

We have seriously considered and consulted on three possible options - the others being continuing as we are, and only providing a partial service - but our financial position means the only realistic option is to withdraw and do our best to ensure other providers step in.

Although this was understandably the least popular option in the consultation responses, many comments demonstrated that people would support this option if it was the only way to secure a viable future for the service. Many schools are already using private provision, or alternatives such as overseas visits or Duke of Edinburgh awards.

Our four residential centres only have around 50 per cent usage and there has been a marked decline in income recently, which we were only able to address slightly with an increase in charges. The service remains significantly under-used, with an annual deficit of over £1m.

I understand the benefits this services has provided to schools and pupils in Birmingham and outside the city, which is why we are doing all we can to mitigate our withdrawal from the market.

The relationships we have built up over the years of providing this service means that a number of organisations are now well placed to continue provision of some key services and we are in discussions with partners about ongoing provision.

A report will go to cabinet on Monday 17 March

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