Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, in partnership with the Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark and Lough Erne Landscape Partnership, supported by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is delighted to be working with NI Forest School Association and the first ten schools in the District to take part in the Forest School Awards Programme.
The Forest School Awards Programme, delivered by the Northern Ireland Forest Schools Association, is aimed at promoting sustainable outdoor education programmes to inspire innovative teaching methods, encourage curiosity and exploration whilst instilling a sense of community and civic pride within young people.
Speaking in about the programme with some pupils from Omagh County Primary School in Arleston Park, the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Diana Armstrong said;
“this is a wonderful initiative, and I am so excited to meet some of the children who will take part in the first Forest School workshops in the Fermanagh and Omagh district. As well as learning in their school gardens, we have, right across the district, a number of parks and open spaces which are ideal for students to take learning out of the classroom and into the great outdoors.”
The Lough Erne Landscape Partnership Manager, Elmarie Swanepoel, stated; “we are delighted to be working in partnership to support the Forest Schools Programme. This programme will enable pupils to gain a clear understanding and appreciation of the unique landscape and natural heritage we have available in the Lough Erne region.”
Commenting on the programme, Martina O’Neill, Development Officer, Marble Arch UNESCO Global Geopark said;
“The landscapes and places within our UNESCO Global Geopark are the perfect ‘outdoor classroom’. We are absolutely delighted to be working in partnership with our colleagues in the Council’s Biodiversity team and Lough Erne Landscape Partnership on this Forest Schools initiative.
The Forest Schools Programme, free to each of the participating schools, aims to support groups to develop an area as an outdoor classroom, go through a 6-session outdoor learning programme and make the programme sustainable by training a member of staff in Forest School Leadership, ensuring it continues in the setting after Fermanagh and Omagh District Council support ends. In addition, each participating school receives a Forest School Starter Kit Bag including Learning Resources and, on completion of the six-session programme, NIFSA Nature Ranger Certificates for participating pupils.
The programme opened for applications in Autumn 2020 and the first 20 successful schools were selected through a competitive process. Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark and Lough Erne Landscape hope to continue the scheme into 2022, subject to funding, by supporting more schools and education settings through the programme.
For more information on Forest Schools for schools and communities, please visit www.forestschoolawards.org/ where families can also sign up for free to receive free outdoor learning resources.
For more information on the Council’s role in supporting the programme, please contact the Biodiversity Officer by telephone on 0300 303 1777 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.