Children are going on fewer outdoor school trips than a generation ago, a survey has revealed.
And the soaring cost of trips is blamed for the decline leaving children from the poorest families missing out.
Only one in ten people in a survey of 1,000 adults believe that children today have more outdoor education opportunities than they had in their schooldays.
The survey for the Bohunt Trust (BET), an academy trust that promotes outdoor education, also found that nearly three out of four (71%) of those polled said cost was the biggest deterrent.
Some 72% of those surveyed called for a greater focus on outdoor education in both primary and secondary schools.
And more than three-quarters of people (78%) said outdoor education was important for children’s self-development, and more than two-thirds (68%) said it improved academic achievement.
Many schools organise ski or trekking trips as well cultural tours in Europe and other countries.
Phil Avery, Director of Education at Bohunt Education Trust (BET), said it ensured outdoor education was available for all by planning trips two or three years in advance.
The timetable allowed families to plan and better off students to fund-raise, while pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are provided with bursaries.
Mr Avery added:” “It is a real shame that outdoor education opportunities have decreased for many young people.
“At Bohunt we really invest in these opportunities, providing bursaries for our poorer students so that they can still go on the trips and expeditions, because they provide so much benefit for young people.
“They help their self-development, communication and resilience, and instill a sense of adventure and challenge which prepares students for success in life. Additionally, external studies and our own data show there is a strong link between academic attainment and outdoor education.”
A recent study by the Education Endowment Foundation, an independent charity, found that pupils who take part in adventure learning make around four months additional academic progress over the course of a year.
The report says outdoor learning boosts self-confidence and has a greater benefit for more vulnerable youngsters.
Last year the NASUWT teachers’ union warned that soaring costs are acting as a “covert form of selection” and parents were being asked to pay for more school activities.
A survey of 4,000 parents found many struggling to pay and one said:”Ski trip was £600. French trip £450. These are for less than a week. They are beyond my funds.”