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Outdoor Education: Finance

Question for Department for Education

UIN 97703, tabled on 30 September 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of funding the Nature Premium on (a) levels of health inequality, (b) combating mental health issues and (c) levels of learning development among children.

Answered on

7 October 2020

Schools and colleges have an important role to play in supporting the health and well-being of children and young people. We recognise that playing and learning outside is a fundamental part of childhood and supports children’s health and wellbeing. We also know that some children have good access to natural spaces whilst others do not, such as those living in areas of high disadvantage.

We want headteachers to have as much discretion as possible over how they use their funding. It is for schools to decide what teaching approaches and wider pastoral and extra-curricular activity to put in place, as part of a whole school approach, based on the needs of their pupils and drawing on evidence of effective practice. Schools’ core funding in financial years is rising by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20 funding levels.

To support children from disadvantaged backgrounds to have better access to natural environments, the Department for Education is funding the ‘Children and Nature Programme’, working alongside Natural England and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The programme is supporting three delivery projects which include delivering greener grounds and pupil visits to green spaces for schools with the highest proportion of disadvantaged pupils.

I have asked departmental officials to meet with representatives of the Nature Premium campaign to discuss the potential merits further.