Pupils across the Borough get unique ‘hedge-ucation’ at Forest Schools

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Cllr Johnston (on right of the picture) with home schoolers at Eden Allotment Gardens

Students have been learning about leaves, logs and life-skills in the latest sessions of Forest Schools.

Forest Schools are gaining popularity in Northern Ireland and Mid and East Antrim have been at the forefront of the initiative.

Deputy Mayor of Mid & East Antrim, Councillor Cheryl Johnston, joined home schoolers at Eden Allotment Gardens and Cllr Mark McKinty visited his old Primary School, Ballycarry Primary, at their chosen Forest School site Fairhill Common.

Both councillors, along with Councillor Patrice Hardy, have sat on the Councils Forest School panel since inception in 2017.

Cllr Johnston said: “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is committed to promoting our parks and open spaces as important educational and recreational resources and Forest Schools is a great way to achieve this.

“Every school in the Borough had the opportunity to apply to be a Forest School and I was delighted that, due to additional funding, seven schools will be benefitting from the Forest Schools programme this year.

“Seven teachers will also be trained and receive their Forest School Leader accreditation, to ensure the sustainability of the programme.”

Schools all chose their own ‘classroom’.

Home schoolers are using Eden Allotment Gardens, Ballycarry Primary School have chosen Fairhill Common, Roddensvale School chose Dixon Park, Whitehead Primary School chose Diamond Jubilee Wood, St Colmcille’s Primary School chose ECOS Nature Park, Seaview Primary School Glenarm chose Straidkilly Trail and Dunclug Primary School chose The People’s Park.

Cllr McKinty, said: “Research continues to show that outdoor learning is invaluable for children to increase their confidence, physical and mental health and social skills.

“Forest Schools connect children to the natural world and inspire a love of the environment that is likely to remain long after the programme ends.

“The benefits of Forest Schools can be far reaching, with not only for the pupils and teachers directly involved benefitting, but also their families, school and local community.”

Mrs Trueick, Principal of Ballycarry Primary School, said: “The children love using their new ‘outside classroom’ during their Forest School sessions and are very keen to get outside every week.

“The Forest School has been extremely well organised and has linked with will be incorporating the activities as I plan for the year ahead.”

For more information and to keep up to date you can go to http://www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/things-to-do/parks/forest-schools

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