North Yorkshire Council


Executive Committee


28 November 2023


Outdoor Learning Service


Report of the Corporate Director – Children & Young People’s Service.




1.1         To report on the performance of the Outdoor Learning Service


1.2         To seek a policy investment as detailed in section 16



2.0       SUMMARY


2.1       North Yorkshire has provided outdoor pursuits, education and learning for children and young people for over 80 years with the forerunner of current outdoor education and learning service starting in 1974.  The service operates two outdoor learning centres, Bewerley Park and East Barnby, providing residential and day-based activities as well as staff training.   


2.2       Since the review of the service in 2021 and the re-opening following the pandemic, work has been underway to improve the service’s operating model withthe key objective of delivering high quality outdoor education whilst achieving an efficient service which is financially self-sustaining and can generate enough surplus to repay any future (Phase 2) investment in the infrastructure. 


2.3       To ensure this key objective is met extensive financial modelling has taken place, pulling together all elements of the service’s income and expenditure and forecasting what the financial position might look like for the next 10 years until March 2033.


2.4       Align Property Partners have led on reviewing the current site conditions and buildings, they have instructed various surveys and consultants to provide information to support the planning application, including submitting a pre-planning application for feedback. This information has been used to develop detailed designs for work at both sites and provide full cost breakdowns. 


2.5       The Planning Application has recently been submitted to ensure the development programme is on schedule allowing for the proposed works to commence in autumn 2024. This report to the Executive is separate to the planning application process.


3.0       BACKGROUND        




3.1       There is no longer a statutory duty for the council to provide outdoor learning facilities, however, outdoor education and learning experiences have a hugely important and positive impact on children and young people, and experiences created at the two North Yorkshire centres, East Barnby and Bewerley Park, are fondly and well-remembered by all long after their visit. The service offers a wide and challenging range of outdoor adventurous activities, making good use of local venues and natural resources in North Yorkshire (moorlands, crags, rivers, and coastline) as well as site-based activities.  


3.2       The strategy for children and young people living in North Yorkshire “Being Young in North Yorkshire 2021–2024” has a vision that all children and young people are safe, happy, healthy, and able to achieve in North Yorkshire.  The Outdoor Learning Service makes a valuable contribution to meeting this vision.  The service works to support the Council Plan 2021–2025 priority to “enable more children and young people to lead lifelong healthy lifestyles with improved social, emotional and mental health and resilience, and reduced health inequalities”. 


3.3       Research into the long-term impact of outdoor education residential visits for children and young people identifies lasting impacts including, increases in self-confidence, independence, improved communication and teamwork as cited by Prince (2020) ( Studies highlighted that during these visits, new life skills were gained, and children had a greater awareness of the natural world beyond their home which in turn had a positive influence on their education and their chosen career paths.


3.4       Opportunities that the outdoor learning service provides, and which contribute to improving the mental health, resilience, and wellbeing of the young people of North Yorkshire are more necessary than ever.  In recent years a considerable number of children and young people have had restricted opportunities to connect with each other and with nature. Outcomes associated with high quality outdoor education such as increased self-confidence, enhanced peer to peer relationships and strengthened teacher/pupil trust and understanding are vitally important.  The service helps children regain these valuable learning experiences and benefit from the unique role outdoor learning can play in health and wellbeing.




3.5       The property and infrastructure on both sites have been reviewed, and options considered for improvement, that would provide a sustainable facility for the future.  Property colleagues initially developed a brief with input from the project team and staff at the centres.  The brief provided an extensive list of objectives that reflected issues associated with energy use, property condition, under-utilisation, and access issues.  This brief was passed onto Align Property Partners, who were tasked with undertaking a feasibility study.  The feasibility study and initial costs were submitted, and approval was given in September 2021 to proceed to develop a design.    


3.6       Align Property Partners (APP) identified additional surveys and third-party reports required to develop and submit a robust planning application. Advice received during the pre-application enquiry made to the local planning authority has been also considered. 


3.7       Due to the disruptive nature of any construction work and the need to retain customer numbers at the centres, the project is planned to be delivered in two phases keeping the centres open during the first phase of construction so that service delivery can continue.


3.8       The proposed development at Bewerley Park will be constructed in two phases. This will enable the first phase, an accommodation block, as shown below, to be constructed as a stand-alone structure while also relating to the design masterplan to create a sense of place upon completion of both phases. The design is in keeping with the current site. The work at East Barnby will take place during phase 1 only.


Proposed Phase 1: Bewerley Park & East Barnby


Bewerley Park

3.9       Phase 1: New accommodation block​ toinclude 14 en-suite dorms, visiting staff accommodation, drying room and break out spaces​ 


East Barnby  

3.10     East Barnby is a leased site therefore the council’s investment is on a smaller scale and requires liaison with the landlord prior to commencement.  


3.11     Align have issued a feasibility study and initial costs for the following recommended works:  Main dining room block - this has been reviewed for thermal and service improvements to include recommendations for low carbon technologies where appropriate; accommodation blocks -  Blocks 4 & 6 (samples) have been reviewed with a view to reconfiguring all accommodation blocks to provide better functioning facilities, including improvements to staff rooms and new cloak room areas. ​  


Proposed Phase 2 work at Bewerley Park

3.12     Phase 2: Hub building, second accommodation block​, workshops and stores. This will include four classrooms, kitchen, dining room/multi-purpose room, smaller multi-purpose room, games /activity room, offices and reception​. There will also be a second accommodation block, the same as the first one, and workshops and stores buildings  





4.1       The school feedback questionnaire and feedback from the user group identified an interest in the development of an offer to support specific curriculum areas including geography, science and PE up to GCSE level. 


4.2       The service has the opportunity to provide schools with professional development, mentoring, training, and access to centre resources. Schools are advised to use established quality assured local, regional, and national subject-specific and suitably qualified CPD providers and so the Outdoor Learning Service are well placed to respond to this. 


4.3       Engagement with schools continues and the Outdoor Learning Service provide updates at the council’s CYPS briefings for school leaders and Finance and Administration conferences.  In addition, targeted marketing has taken place to promote newly developed packages and to encourage bookings to fill gaps in the 23/24 calendar.  The newly structured North Yorkshire Outdoor Learning service has a new website Home - North Yorkshire Outdoor Education and a combined social media presence, enabling greater visibility of the centres and its broad range of programmes. 


4.4       Bewerley Park Parish Council, Pateley Bridge Town council and Mickleby Parish Council have all been keep up to date on progress of the project. 


Fees and charges  


4.5       The council’s policy for inflation linked fee increases was applied for the 2023-24 academic year fees. The following table indicates the current fee structure. 






Academic Year 







1 night 







2 nights 







3 nights 







4 nights 








4.6       Fees and charges for the financial year 2024-2025 have been considered to ensure that they entice more schools to visit the centres during the quieter months. These have recently been approved by Executive Member.   


4.7       Seasonal pricing was approved when bookings restarted in September 2021. Feedback suggests that seasonal pricing is favoured by schools who are struggling to meet the increased costs pressures. Ongoing work is being undertaken to ensure the pricing structure remains competitive. 


4.8       The service is benefiting from the recently established service wide approach across several operational aspects: 

·           Business Support staff take a service wide approach to customer management, including ensuring that opportunities are taken to maximise bookings with both centres working together to fill vacancies. 

·           Systems and documentation are being merged to avoid duplication and differences. 

·           Where possible, procuring equipment as a service to realise the benefits of greater buying power. 

·           Senior Leadership meetings have benefitted from the addition of the educational visits manager, providing specific expertise and a wider view of outdoor learning both regionally and nationally. 

·           A service wide rota allows staff to be deployed across the service as appropriate and annual leave is planned to ensure that appropriate cover is always in place. 


Curriculum Development 


4.9       Work has been completed on ensuring that all school residential programmes, offered by both centres, are aligned to National Curriculum subjects and Key stages. Programmes have been developed which capture the nature of the outdoor environment but also demonstrate to school staff the national curriculum subject areas which can be linked to these experiences.  Primary school residential packages include: 

·         Dales and Moorland Explorer, aimed at Years 3&4 

·         Dales and Moorland Adventurer, aimed at Years 5&6 

·         Dales and Moorland Wild Woods Wanderer, aimed at Years 3&4 

·         Source to Sea Adventurer, aimed at Years 5&6 

·         Summit to Stalactite Adventurer, aimed at Years 5&6 


4.10     Secondary school programmes cater for all year groups, from Year 7 to 11, each programme focusing on personal and social development appropriate to the age of the young people. In addition, subject specific programmes are available to support GCSE subjects such as geography, science, and PE. 


4.11     All residential programmes are highlighted on the service website, with a section detailing links to curriculum outcomes. Alongside the clear reference to learning and subject content the website also reminds and highlights to teachers the personal, social, and environmental awareness outcomes of a high-quality residential experience.  


Financial Position


4.12     Since 2015/16, the service’s overall financial position has fluctuated, from making small surpluses in some years to deficits in others. The Covid-19 pandemic obviously had a big impact upon service operations, and the centres were closed to all bookings in March 2020. The service eventually reopened its doors fully in September 2021. This particularly impacted upon the financial position in 2020/21 where the service was in a deficit of more than £1million (excluding the income compensation scheme) despite benefitting from Coronavirus job retention scheme (furlough) for many staff.


4.13     The figures in the table below show the outturn position for the service from 2015/16 up to the current financial year’s forecast. In September 2022, the Educational Visits Advisory Service (EVAS) merged with the Outdoor Learning Service and this impact of this element is included from 2022-23 onwards.


Overall Financial Position




Expenditure (£)

Surplus/(Deficit) (£)






































*Affected by enforced closures during the pandemic

**Forecast figure as at Q2 23/24


Site infrastructure:

4.14     Bewerley Park is owned by North Yorkshire Council, it was built in the 1940’s and consists of a total of 31 separate buildings. The buildings are primarily wooden with the exception of three bungalows near to the entrance of the site.


4.15     East Barnby is leased from the Mulgrave Estate; it was built in the 1950s as an RAF site. It consists of 24 separate buildings which are of prefabricated construction.


4.16     The findings relating to the issues at each site are listed below.

Bewerley Park

·      Poor condition of the buildings resulting in more frequent significant failures.

·      Lack of flexibility of bed spaces due to large dorms, resulting in low occupancy rates.

·      Bathrooms shared between two large dorms which may be used by Primary and Secondary pupils at the same time; this provides additional operational challenges.

·      The buildings are not heated evenly so heating is supplemented by electric heaters in staff areas at the ends of the buildings which can remain cold even when the main area is too hot.

·      Energy use is inefficient and cannot be controlled in relation to occupancy.  This means that energy costs are high even when there is low/no occupancy.

·      Loss of heat from buildings due to lack of insulation/double glazing makes heating the buildings expensive and contributes to high carbon emissions.

·      The reception office is located at far end of site; this means it is difficult to manage visitors as they enter the site as the office is not clearly visible for groups on arrival.  This leads to an inefficient use of staff time as they wait for groups at the entrance.

·      Minibuses are also located at the far end of the site which means that these and other traffic such as deliveries can sometimes be required to move around the site alongside pedestrians who are also using the site.  This is a health and safety risk that requires additional management.

·      Storage currently consists of several small areas all around the site which makes getting ready for activities more complicated and time consuming.



4.17     East Barnby

·      There is a lack of dedicated bathrooms for visiting staff. The toilet and shower facilities are shared with the children which requires additional management.

·      Visiting staff bedrooms are very small and shared, in some cases special beds have been made which are not full length or width. Uncomfortable and inadequate bedrooms can discourage staff from booking.

·      Loss of heat from buildings due to lack of insulation/double glazing makes heating the buildings expensive and contributes to high carbon emissions.

·      No drying room/storage for wet coats/shoes, means that at times these can remain wet for the next day’s activities.

·      There are not enough classroom spaces to have one unique space per visiting group, so storage and resources are shared, and space is accessed in turn, losing valuable time.



4.18     Heating and maintenance costs 2015/16 to 2022/23


Heating costs are set out below. This reflects the rising costs over time, excluding the partial closure periods.


4.19     Investment to date 

            A summary of the costs to date is provided in the table below.




Surveys Stage 1:  


Surveys Stage 3:  


Align Fees:  


Preparation and Brief  


Planning Application


Concept Design


Developed Design


Additional Work:  


Provision of Options 1-10 to reduce capital costs   


East Barnby Feasibility work






Survey Information  


4.20     Align Property Partners have carried out the following surveys and consultations to date: 



·       Topographical Survey 

·       Tree Survey 

·       Landscaping Masterplan 

·       Site Investigation/Ground Conditions 

·       Flood Risk/Drainage Design  

·       Ecology 

·       CCTV Drainage 

·       Sustainability Report 


Based on Pre-Planning Advice: 

·       Re-commissioned Flood Risk/Drainage Design 

·       Travel Plan 

·       Transport Assessment 

·       SBEM 

·       Biodiversity 

·       Planning Statement 

·       Masterplan Soft Landscape proposals 

·       Visual Impact Statement 

·       Heritage and Archaeology Statement 


Outstanding/currently working on:  

·       Detailed surface and foul water strategy  

·       Transport Assessment 

·       Biodiversity 

·       Planning Statement 

·       Masterplan Soft Landscape proposals 

·       Visual Impact Statement 


Proposed Work at Bewerley Park


4.21     Proposed a rebuild of existing accommodation over 2 phases​:



Proposed Site Plan



4.22     The main buildings (two accommodation blocks and hub building) will be elevated above the existing ground levels to a height informed by the flood risk assessment and will be characterised by external decks for access, teaching and learning. The phasing of the site has been planned to allow the construction of the first accommodation block on the footprint of an existing teaching block (Block 9) to the north of the site, which is remote from the existing dormitory blocks that are to remain in use until the second phase. Block 9 will be demolished to allow the construction of the first accommodation block at this location. Other ancillary buildings, including workshop, wet suit stores and changing facility are planned for phase 2 and are strategically placed within the masterplan.


4.23     The hub building, shown below, will act as the focal point of the development. It will be the most prominent building on site and addresses the main direction of approach from the driveway. The building is likely to have high usage during the day as the proposed plan contains classrooms, a large multi-use hall, admin offices equipment stores and recreational space which seeks to make activity organisation less complicated and less time consuming.


4.24     In terms of spatial arrangement, spaces have been arranged either side of a wide central corridor with rooms each side and on ground and upper floor level.  The central corridor or “street” is intended to function as more than just a circulation route.  At a planned width of approximately 3.5m width this space can accommodate informal seating for holding team briefings or act as a generous foyer to hold large groups before an activity changeover or site departure. The main volumes of the accommodation are arranged around the aforementioned “street” running east-west. The notion of reinforcing connectivity with the landscape beyond is central to the building plan which is manipulated to place rooms at optimal locations for access and views. The office areas are positioned at the front of the building to overlook the main approach to effectively monitor group arrivals and improve site surveillance and security.


4.25     In addition to the above, the hall would also be used for the more common activities of dining, conferencing, large meetings and accommodating drama and film shows.  Viewing windows will be provided at strategic points to ensure that activities are visible to spectators and would be participants. A second studio space is provided adjacent the main hall offering a smaller secondary dining or meeting space that can be used for SEN groups when required.


4.26     The proposed development scheme envisages the demolition of most of the existing buildings on the site, existing residential dwellings are expected to be retained and their purpose to be considered separately.


Proposed Work at East Barnby


4.27     Align undertook a feasibility study and provided initial costs for the main dining room and the accommodation blocks.

Main Dining Room Block


4.28     To improve the thermal properties of the building, it is proposed that existing steel windows are replaced with new double glazed uPVC windows. The space between the existing roof joist and deck will be insulated and new plasterboard ceiling installed below. The existing walls will be lined internally with insulated plasterboard.


Block 4 – example


4.29     To provide two separate staff bedrooms, by diving a room into two (127). The existing door will be blocked up to accommodate bed positions and two new door openings formed. Each room will receive new floor finishes and decoration throughout.


4.30     To provide a separate staff bathroom by reconfiguring the existing pupil bathroom (129) creating a new separate staff bathroom within that area and provide separate access doors to each bathroom. 


4.31     To provide a suitable cloakroom area to the accommodation block by constructing a new timber framed extension to the main entrance, providing a space for pupils and staff to hang their coats. There will be a small number of new footpaths required to connect the new entrance up to existing footpaths.


Block 6 – sample


4.32     To provide two separate staff bedrooms, it is proposed to divide the existing staff bedroom (146) into 2 rooms and forming one new door opening into one of the bedrooms. To achieve this the existing redundant chimney breast will need to be removed and ceilings made good. Each room will receive new floor finishes and decoration throughout.


4.33     To provide a separate staff bathroom by reconfiguring the existing pupil bathroom (149)   creating a new separate staff bathroom with access from the existing corridor (145).


4.34     To provide a suitable cloakroom area to the block by constructing a new timber framed extension to the main entrance, providing a space for pupils and staff to hang their coats.  Due to this block only having one means of escape, it is proposed to provide alternative escape doors from each dorm room (147 & 150) by removing the existing window. The doors are to be linked to an alarm to alert staff if pupils open these doors.


4.35     External works will include new footpaths from the new extension and the newly formed escape doors to connect back up to existing footpaths.









5.1       A full review of the service was carried out in 2021. This involved engagement with a wide range of stakeholders. Local town and parish councils have been kept informed about the service plans and consultation with the Estates Director of the Mulgrave Estate is due to take place in November 2023.




6.1       This work supports the Council Plan 2021–2025 priority to “enable more children and young people to lead lifelong healthy lifestyles with improved social, emotional and mental health and resilience, and reduced health inequalities”. 




7.1       An alternative option considered was to make improvements to the staffing and operating model, without investment in the capital infrastructure. This option did not meet the objective to operate in an efficient and self-sustaining way. The modelled financial situation, without capital investment, after 10 years is a deficit and would increase costs to the council; without a capital investment the ability of the service to grow the business and improve occupancy levels, which in turn generates more income, is limited. The alternative option would not meet business outcomes.




8.1       Improving the facilities at the centres will require significant capital investment. Detailed work has been undertaken to determine the capital investment at both sites to improve service delivery and reduce maintenance and running costs.


8.2       The service is forecast to generate a surplus every year, apart from the year that Bewerley Park closes for Phase 2 of construction. The model assumes that Bewerley Park would not generate any income during the year that it is closed, however there will still be a large cost for staff. Although not a dependency in the model, the intention is to generate income through the deployment of some staff to East Barnby and to enhance the offer off-site and at school-based locations where some staff could deliver day provision.


8.3       The total project costs including capital investment required for the proposed redevelopment of Bewerley Park and improvements to East Barnby is up to £4.2m for Phase 1, this is a policy investment.  A separate business case will be developed for Phase 2.





9.1       East Barnby - Approval will be obtained by the Landlord before any work is carried out.  The site is leased on a 25-year term commencing 29 March 2018.


9.2       Ongoing advice from legal on the potential implications for the proposed works at East Barnby will be sought and will consider the council’s obligations under the lease agreement.




10.1     A full EIA has been undertaken as part of the Full Business Case. A copy is attached at Appendix A.




11.1     An initial screening has taken place, a full CCIA is not required.  The screening document is attached at Appendix B


11.2     The carbon emissions for the buildings are 435 Tonnes/CO2 for Bewerley Park and 287 Tonnes/CO2 for East Barnby.


11.3     A carbon reduction review has been carried out by Align Property Partners, focusing on heating and hot water supply at Bewerley Park


11.4     This review looks at existing mechanical and electrical installations, oil and electrical consumption and carbon emissions.  It also details current and anticipated annual running costs and estimated energy savings.


11.5     The table below shows the renewable energy options that have been considered for Bewerley Park and the rationale behind the proposal for use.





Air Source Heat Pumps - Heating/Hot Water Technology Proposed

ASHP for heating and hot water. 2no 14kW Mitsubishi PUZ ASHP units. Hot water to be provided by two 300 litre packaged cylinders. ASHP units to be housed in fenced compound

Accommodation Block - £58,482.00 per block


Hub Block - £105,000.00


Wet Suit /Change - £41,741.00

ASHP has lower capital cost and improved payback.

GSHP - Heating/Hot Water Technology Considered ***

GSHP for heating and hot water. One NIBE GSHP for heating and one NIBE GSHP for domestic hot water. System requires 7no 150mm deep bore holes.

Accommodation Block - £130,000.00 per block


Hub Block - £165,000.00


Wet Suit /Change - £55,000.00

General ground conditions not favourable for GSHP. Geology report highlighted concerns with possible aquifer. 

Rainwater Harvesting



Rainwater Harvesting not considered due to capital cost and underground storage tank could not be installed due to high water table.

Photovoltaics Technology

Total financial benefit per annum based upon non grid purchased electricity = 70,954 kWh/pa x 15.49p per kWh = £10,990.77


Over 20 years (index linked) = £219,815.49


PV for both phases £100,000

Photovoltaics are a popular source of renewable energy that will generate significant savings on energy bills



11.6     The proposed work at Bewerley Park includes ASHP (Air Source Heat Pump) technology to provide heating and hot water as well as photovoltaics (PV) technology to generate significant savings on energy bills. This will significantly improve levels of thermal performance.


Energy Consumption & Carbon Emission Reduction


11.7     The below table is based upon the proposed ASHP technology.



Current Annual Energy Consumption


Energy Saving per Year


Carbon Emission Reduction


Bewerley Park Phase 1 – accommodation block




Bewerley Park Phase 2 – accommodation block, hub and wet suit store




East Barnby Phase 1 – Dining block only








12.1     Risks are regularly reviewed and managed with required mitigation and controls put in place to minimise the likelihood and impact.




13.1     The implementation of a revised structure from September 2022 was achieved without any compulsory redundancies and resulted in a structure that is flexible to respond to the needs of the service, for example some staff deployment across both centres and a service wide leadership team. In addition, greater resilience has been achieved through the integration of support service staff to central services teams. This revised structure allows a greater separation of business and educational delivery functions and responsibilities.


13.2     Current establishment across both centres and educational visits team

The service has a management team of five, including educational visits, business and outdoor learning managers. There are 16.6 FTE equivalent in the outdoor tutoring team (including 2.5 FTE teaching staff) and 21.5 FTE other staff, including those employed directly by the council’s central property, catering, domestic and communications teams.




14.1     Capital investment is required in order to improve both East Barnby and Bewerley Park and to provide facilities that will meet the needs of customers in the future. If approved, the service will instruct Align Property Partners to proceed with technical design and tender documents to start construction in 2024. 




15.1     The Outdoor Learning Service provides high quality outdoor education in the heart of North Yorkshire. This investment provides a valuable opportunity for the service to be sustainable into the future offering enhanced opportunities for children to experience outdoor education in the county.







Executive are asked to

i)              Approve Phase 1 investment up to £4.2m.


ii)             Agree for the service return to the Executive committee in 2027/28 to seek approval for further investment in Phase 2 of the development.






Appendix A – Equality Impact Assessment

Appendix B – Climate Change Impact Assessment Screening Form




Executive Report 16th February 2021

Executive Report 21st September 2021



Stuart Carlton

Corporate Director – Children and Young People’s Services

County Hall


November 2023


Report Author – Amanda Newbold

Presenter of Report – Amanda Newbold                  



Note: Members are invited to contact the author in advance of the meeting with any detailed queries or questions.