Forest Schools scheme branching out across East Antrim area

Teachers and pupils from Ballyclare PS and Tir na Nog Primary are the latest in a growing number of local schools taking part in the Forest Schools programme.

‘Forest Schools’ provides the structure and curriculum links to enable schoolschildren and staff to enjoy the great outdoors by taking the classroom outside and learning, without even realising it.

The two East Antrim schools are on the fourth week of a six week programme in the Six Mile Water Park and week five will see the teachers leading the session under the guidance of the forest school leader from the NI Forest Schools Association, ensuring they have the confidence to continue after the programme has been completed.

Activities so far have included animal tree measuring, den building, 3D art, raft building and even a raft race to see which vessel would make it to Lough Neagh.

Mr Gordon from Ballyclare Primary School said: “Many of our year groups have been using the Six Mile Park for outdoor learning over the past two years to enhance Literacy, Numeracy and World Around Us (WAU) work. This year Forest Schools has provided the opportunity for the children to further their knowledge. The children really look forward to hearing the ‘Forest School Bell’ after lunch time on a Thursday which signals it’s time to get our welly boots on and to meet up with our new friends from Tir-Na- Nog Primary.”

Mr Mullan of Tia na Nog said: “Our partnership has been a great success from the outset and I’ve no doubt it will continue to provide great opportunities for our pupils. Forest Schools has been a very welcome addition to our curriculum. As we try to enhance our outdoor learning provision and promote WAU, Forest schools has fitted seamlessly into our planning.”