28th November 2016

NI Forest School Awards – Promoting Inspirational Outdoor Learning

A Forest School is an innovative educational approach to outdoor play and learning.  The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences.

Could your school become a Forest School?  

The NI Forest School Awards have been created to encourage local primary schools to take an innovative, educational approach to outdoor play and learning, encouraging and inspiring children through positive outdoor experiences.  The concept is based on a Scandinavian idea that considers children’s contact with nature to be extremely important from an early age.

Now, thanks to the Northern Ireland Forest School Association, supported by Newry Mourne and Down District Council through the Ring of Gullion Partnership and in partnership with ni4kids, schools in the Ring of Gullion will have the opportunity to win free entry to the programme and become an accredited Forest School.

The Ring of Gullion Partnership is excited to be launching their Forest Schools programme this autumn.  Forest Schools are an international concept where school children are taught in outdoor locations making use of natural resources; developing a different way of learning within the national curriculum.  The development of forest schools in the area will have a positive impact on the local community and green spaces.  This year, three schools in the Ring of Gullion will be provided with the opportunity to take learning outside the classroom and into sites in the area.  The benefits of Forest Schools are far reaching, not only for the pupils and teachers directly involved, but also for their families, school and local community.  Regular, on-going and sustained use of parks and open spaces will help to develop a sense of ownership and it is hoped, will lead to a reduction in anti-social behaviour.  Although it is aimed primarily at schools, applications can also be accepted from youth or community groups working with children of primary age.

The Forest Schools Programme is a fantastic concept, it enables young people to gain skills that will make them more confident and willing to explore and use our parks and green spaces.  It also inspires young people to appreciate the natural environment as well as having fun learning.  The Forest Schools Programme also promotes the same opportunity of participation from children of all capabilities and it also heightens the social interaction of children who may normally be excluded from outdoor activities.

 Forest School Awards aims to develop:

  1. Stronger communication and language;
  2. Increased physical activity;
  3. Better social skills and
  4. Greater environmental awareness, helping children to become active and responsible citizens.

Selected schools will win:

  1. Forest School Leader Award Level 3 Training for one member of staff in their local wooded area;
  2. Forest School Starter Kit Bag;
  3. Assistance in the development of a dedicated Forest School site within your local wooded area;
  4. Regular publicity on your school organisation’s Forest School training in Ni4kids Magazine;
  5. Official Forest School plaque and
  6. Membership to Forest School Awards website, which provides information on other Forest Schools in your area, lesson plans, latest research and literature.

How to enter:  Primary schools and community groups, in the Ring of Gullion area, are invited to register their interest in winning a Forest School Award online until the closing date for applications on 1st December 2016.  Winning schools will be selected by a judging panel in December, with Forest School classes taking place from January to May 2017.  Schools will be presented with their award at the NI Forest School Awards Event in June 2017.  Find out if your school can apply for a Forest School Award here.

The Northern Ireland Forest School Association was established in 2008 to develop and deliver a sustainable environmental education programme.  The charity has, to date, trained teachers and youth leaders from all over the country as Forest School Leaders and supported over 15,000 children in outdoor activities.



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