FINAL discussions are being held with two children’s activity providers to secure the future of Oxenwood and Braeside for future generations.

Earlier in the year it was confirmed that Wiltshire College had withdrawn its bid to run Braeside, a move that could have seen the site closed down and relocated to the Lackham site.

Now Classes Abroad, a Chippenham based company have been named as the provider tipped to take over Braeside, near Devizes from as early as December 1 2019.

The company provide trips for children from across Europe, and plans for the centre include continuing outdoor education combined with foreign language classes for local children and trips from other European schools.

As part of negotiations Wiltshire Council called on Classes Abroad to make sure that staff and services for Wiltshire children would continue once taken over.

A report due to be seen by cabinet members next week said: "Wiltshire Council reinforced their aspirations that Classes Abroad would offer outdoor education provision from the site to education settings across Wiltshire.

"Classes Abroad confirmed their intention to utilise the knowledge and experience of the existing Braeside Outdoor Education team to develop the outdoor education service and increase the opportunity for their existing core business to grow.

Devizes based charity Community First could be given the keys to Marlborough based Oxenwood outdoor education centre even sooner, with October 1 pencilled in as the start of the new project.

A deal for the smaller site, near Marlborough, has been underway since last December and now nearly 10 months later, the final arrangements are being put in place.

The charity already provides services for children through its Youth Action service and has been running for 50 years.

As well as continuing day and residential trips for schools and groups, the charity aims to give opportunities for vulnerable and disadvantaged children to visit the site.

Steve Crawley, of Community First and head of Youth Action Wiltshire, said: “This represents a hugely exciting opportunity for our charity to be able to ensure Oxenwood can continue to offer affordable high-quality outdoor education, alongside launching new, free-to-access provision for 250 young people who are vulnerable and facing disadvantage every year.

“Community First is delighted that it has been given the opportunity to pursue the acquisition of the Oxenwood Outdoor Education Centre from Wiltshire Council in order that it can continue to develop and deliver a wide and inspiring range of courses for our young people and the wider community of Wiltshire and elsewhere.”

The move towards finalising deals for both centres was launched over a year ago when Wiltshire Council announced plans to close the centres down, citing high refurbishment costs to keep them up to standard.

A petition was signed by over 16,000 parents and teachers who wanted the service to continue and the council promised to find new owners..

Elizabeth Kendall teaches Year 5 at King William primary school in Swindon, and is a mother of two and regularly uses Oxenwood for school trips.

She said:“Oxenwood is an opportunity to experience other activities that children wouldn’t often get the chance to experience.

"They get to see each other and themselves in a different light away from the school environment."