Pateley Bridge High Street
Pateley Bridge High Street

County Council says “nothing is off the table” as it considers the future of Bewerley Park residential site

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The County Council is seeking to review its outdoor residential education for pupils, as the financial impact of the lockdown and cost of maintaining two residential sites at Bewerley Park and East Barnby mean the current service has become unviable.

Following the onset of the lockdown, the Outdoor Learning Service was forced to close to school residential trips and other groups in March 2020, in line with Department for Education guidance. The Government guidance remains in place and visits to Bewerley Park in Nidderdale (near to Pateley Bridge) and East Barnby near Whitby are still unable to take place. It has resulted in the service losing the majority of its £2.25m annual income.

The buildings which make up the Bewerley Park estate in Nidderdale were built as temporary structures in 1939 with an expected life span of ten to twenty years. Created mainly from wood, the estate buildings have become increasingly expensive to maintain, requiring frequent repairs.

Now the service is forecast a deficit of £984,000 by the end of the financial year for 2020-21. The situation is unlikely to improve in the near future, as school residential trips require a long lead-in time while funding and permissions are requested from parents, which means visits would be unlikely to resume in the short-term.

With the current budget pressures already faced by the council, and the large sums of money already being spent patching up the estate, a new model of outdoor education may be needed. The County Council is now seeking to undertake a review of outdoor learning provision.

The service currently employs about 40 staff, many of whom have been redeployed to other roles throughout the pandemic. They will be consulted on future plans for the service.

As part of the review, a consultation will be launched with schools, local communities and other stakeholder organisations on what outdoor learning provision should look like.



Amanda Newbold, Assistant Director of Children and Young People’s Services said:

We know that many generations in North Yorkshire have fond memories of visiting Bewerley Park and East Barnby during their schools years. Many thousands of students has passed through the doors of these centres over the last few decades to take part in outdoor adventures and it has a special place in many people’s hearts.

Unfortunately the estate, including dormitory huts, dining hall and other buildings are in urgent need of updating and modernising and we need to create a more suitable model of outdoor education provision for future generations of children.

If the buildings at Bewerley Park were old stone structures there wouldn’t be a problem, but the material estate has worn out and we’re spending a significant sum of money trying to patch it up. Unfortunately the buildings aren’t fit for purpose or for the future.

We need to launch a full review of outdoor learning services and potentially come up with a more sustainable model of delivering the service.

At this stage nothing is off the table and we would like to work with our existing outdoor learning staff and other stakeholders to see if we to make sure we fully meet the future needs of schools and young people for outdoor education and have a sustainable, long-lasting model for the service in place.

The next steps involve identifying the stakeholders, establishing what the core objectives and benefits of the service are, reviewing different models of outdoor learning, costing different options for improving or replacing current properties and infrastructure and providing a proposal for the future of the service.

While the provision is suspended, the school improvement and early years service will be working with schools to help them access other education opportunities outside of the classroom and in their local area, to ensure children and young people continue to have access to the outdoors and outdoor learning.



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6 Comments

  1. I have read this article with increasing sadness and distress. Bewerley Park holds an irreplaceable space in the hearts of so many people who have visited its halls and dormitories over the years since the war. Generations of children have been introduced here to the outdoors which is on their doorstep. For myself personally the space and experience offered by the centre and it’s highly skilled staff are of truly life changing proportions.

    I fully realise that nostalgia and heartwarming stories do not pay the bills, but surely a new model of outdoor education could include the existing infrastructure, even if it is worn and in need of updating. In the long run, failing to invest in the centres we already have will cost the council more. If a developer is brought in they will refurbish and sell the services back to the council at a much inflated price, or alternative, privately owned outdoor education will need to be paid for by the council, also costing more in the long term.

    In addition to the cost of outsourcing outdoor education there will be an immediate economic impact on the local economy. Pateley Bridge in particular will be hard hit by the closure. The loss of business to the town from the groups visiting Bewerley park will have a tremendous impact on the economy.

    This is also to say nothing of the mental health needs of children and young people post pandemic. The benefits of nature and physical activity to mental health are well documented. It seems to me the need for out door education will be much greater in the coming years and that the staff who already care for the centre and the children of North Yorkshire are the ones best placed to meet this need. They know the site, the know the area and they know the children.

    Economically we will be no better off by selling off or closing these sites. Investment should be made to keep the centres open

  2. I have been going to Bewerley Park for a week every year for many many years. I , and my family, have gained enormously from the park’s staff, the beautiful surroundings and ,yes, ok, the old but functional buildings themselves.
    Please consider carefully as I am sure many will sufffer from its closure…children, families, communities and the economy of the surrounding area.
    Thank you

  3. Shocked that the council is considering closing Bewerley Park given the likely impact on the local economy of Pateley Bridge which benefits from visitors at the park shopping in the local shops and using the local eateries. My own family have been regular summer visitors at the park, and my children have loved the experiences offered by the centre staff, including canoeing, gill scrambling, orienteering, and the ropes courses. They are very sad at the prospect of losing this access to such character building activities.

  4. Please do not sell or close Bewerley Park. My children and I have been staying there every summer for many years. The site affords them so much freedom to grow as young people, pushing themselves physically with the many challenges offered They have matured through the experience of living communally with other young people, who they would not have met otherwise. Yes, the buildings do need some work, but surely funding would be available, especially post-pandemic, for renewal. I worry about a larger enterprise taking over the site: I have experience of several other large national providers and do not consider their provision anywhere near as comprehensive and worthwhile as the more personal service provided by Bewerley.
    There will also be a negative effect on the economy of Pateley Bridge; the amount of money spent by the groups and families who stay at Bewerley Park is considerable.

  5. Each of my children have been to Bewerley park on residential trips with the school. They all gained so much from the experience: both physically and emotionally. It helped build their confidence, self esteem and made them feel accepted and part of a team. As a family we have come to Bewerely park, each summer, for many years.It has been such a significant part of our lives and a cornerstone to our family. The site is amazing, the staff very helpful, supportive and accommodating. To us and so many others it holds a very special place in our heart. A place where memories that will last a lifetime have been made. Apart from this the centre is very much at the heart of the community and the threat of closure will have a significant impact on both the local economy and the many young people who will be deprived of the opportunity to experience something that could be life changing .

  6. Each of my four children attended residential weeks at Bewerley Park half way through secondary school. The residential week was a welcome relief from a cramped and stressful homelife with an invalid parent. The activities increased their confidence as well as their physical achievements. Adult ventures such as The Prince’s Trust also find these residential facilities an invaluable resource. I saw a participant in his mid-twenties rediscover forgotten leadership skills and new zest for life after one of these weeks.

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