A "world class" North Ayrshire facility popular with schoolchildren for decades has been saved from the axe.

Arran Outdoor Education Centre was facing the chop as part of North Ayrshire Council's (NAC) budget for 2023/24, which is due to be finalised on March 1.

Plans were leaked to the press late last year revealing that the closure and sale of the island centre could save the local authority more than £380,000.

The proposal sparked outrage among those who have fond memories of visiting the centre over the years - and NAC has now responded to the mounting pressure from politicians and the public.

During a full council meeting today (Wednesday, February 15), Arran Councillor Timothy Billings asked Councillor Shaun Macaulay, cabinet member for education: “Following the alarming and informative article about the potential closure of the Arran Outdoor Education Centre, what steps is the council taking to ensure that this ‘world class’ facility is able to continue its ‘transformative’ work which positively impacts every pupils’ ‘attitude, self-esteem, confidence, resilience, teamwork, ambition, determination, work ethic, achievement, mental health, independence and social and emotional behaviour’?”

Cllr Macaulay confirmed that the centre would be protected from any budget cuts and potential closure, stating that it is "undoubtedly a real asset to North Ayrshire".

He added that the council remains committed to finding a sustainable model for its future.

An "extremely concerned" former primary school teacher previously slammed the possible closure of the centre as "completely and utterly short-sighted".

James Hughes taught in North Ayrshire for 32 years and urged the council to keep open the centre which he said is vital to the wellbeing of children both locally and nationally.

In an open letter, he said: "I attended the outdoor centre every year from 1996-2022, longer than anyone else currently in NAC education.

"The impact on all of these pupils shows in their attitude, self-esteem, confidence, resilience, teamwork, ambition, determination, work ethic, achievement, success, mental health, independence and social and emotional behaviour.

"Throughout my career in education, I continued to meet the pupils I accompanied as they moved on to secondary, into adulthood and became parents themselves and the one thing they speak about is their experience on Arran, their achievements while they were there and the profound effect that it had on them as individuals.

"The proposed closure of this resource, which is the envy of every other authority across, not just Scotland, but the whole of the UK, because of its unique location, is completely and utterly short-sighted.”

He added that the "biggest impact would be on our children and their health, social, emotional and mental wellbeing”.