Spending cuts force county to close half of its outdoor learning centres

HALF of North Yorkshire’s outdoor learning centres are to close after education officials were forced to act as part of multi-million pound cutbacks.

The sites include centres at Great Fryupdale on the North York Moors and Humphrey Head Centre in Cumbria.

And to keep two other centres running, at Bewerley Park, near Pateley Bridge, and East Barnby, near Whitby, funding will come from the Schools Forum which represents every school in the county.

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The National Union of Teachers said the cuts were “obviously very sad”.

In a statement, North Yorkshire County Council said the authority had to find £69m in savings over the next four years.

It added: “As part of this requirement The Children and Young People’s Service must find over £19m with nearly three quarters of this amount to be found within the first two years.”

Bewerley Park and East Barnby will form the core of the new Outdoor Learning Service which will begin next September.

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But Paul Busby of the National Union of Teachers in North Yorkshire said that it was only the provision of cash from schools that had saved the remaining two centres.

He added: “Obviously we’re very sad that cuts the current Coalition Government has forced upon local authorities has given need for this.

“The county council has allocated sufficient funding for Bewerley Park and East Barnby to operate with a different staffing structure.”

Coun John Watson, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for schools, said: “We have set great store in North Yorkshire by the fact that all the county’s children have had the opportunity while at school of enjoying high quality and adventurous activities through our outdoor education service.

“Although the county council has had to make some very tough budgetary decisions we are pleased that through this partnership with schools we have been able to protect this precious entitlement.”