- Text size: A A

If you go down to the woods today…

05 April 2017


You will meet very excited local children enjoying some outdoor learning!  These children, from Ballyclare and Tir na Nog Primary Schools, are taking part in the Forest Schools programme.  The Forest Schools programme provides the structure and curriculum links enabling pupils and teachers to enjoy the great outdoors by taking the classroom outside and learning, without even realising it.

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

Activities have included animal tree measuring, den building, 3D art and raft building.  There was even a raft race to see which vessel would make it to Lough Neagh.  The Six Mile Water Park is an ideal location providing a wide range of habitats for the children to explore.  It is also ideally located within a ten minute walk from the schools, making it easy for the teachers to continue after the six week programme is completed.

Mr Gordon (Ballyclare Primary School) and Mr Mullan (Tir na Nog) welcome the opportunity to both participate in the programme and to work together.

Mr Gordon from Ballyclare Primary School said: “At Ballyclare Primary School 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 and respect for the local environment whilst helping to develop their confidence, social skills, communication skills and ability to work as part of a team.  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.  Similar to Mr Mullan’s comments, it is great being able to gather new ideas for outdoor learning opportunities and to share ideas with one another too.  Working with Tir-Na-Nog has been brilliant!”

Mr Mullan added: 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.  The children are really enjoying the chance to work together and build relationships with pupils from Ballyclare Primary School.  As a teacher it is invaluable having the opportunity to share ideas and good practice with Mr Gordon, a likeminded professional from our neighbouring school.  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.”

For more information regarding the Forest Schools programme please T. 028 9034 0069 or E. [email protected]