FUNDING cuts by Newport City Council could see the end of outdoor education in Monmouthshire.

Gwent Outdoor Education service, which has centres in Gilwern, Hilston Park and Talybont has been subsidised by Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, Newport and Torfaen councils since 1996.

However, Newport City Council are proposing to withdraw its funding of £142,000 to the service which supports management costs and subsidises the costs of courses to students.

Gwent Outdoor Education Service's head of service, Ian Kennett fears Newport's withdrawal will see charges for a five day stay for primary pupils increase by at least £100 to £265 per pupil and the lack of additional financial support available to those eligible for free school meals could mean charges to these children more than trebling

He said, "Such increases could result in parents being unable to afford the service whilst at the same time school budgets would be either insufficient or under huge pressure to subsidise costs. Either way the ultimate losers would be the children and schools who currently benefit from the service.

"Financial instability resulting from losing support from the largest of the four local authority partners could mean the closure of at least one and possibly two of the three current outdoor centres and loss of provision to children from all four local authorities."

The Gwent Outdoor Education Service has been providing outdoor education opportunities for young people and adults from Gwent since the early 1970's. It provides courses in adventure activities, environmental studies, personal and social development and National Governing Body Awards.

Mr Kennett says the outdoor services provides over 19,000 user days annually of which over 6,000 are provided by young people from Newport.

A report by Newport City Council says that informal consultation with schools recognised that there is

alternative provision available and preserving the core services within schools should take precedence despite acknowledging the importance of this service.

This service will still be available to Newport schools but not at a subsidised cost meaning parents will have to fund the full cost.