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Forest School Grow New Beginnings in Fermanagh

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LELP supported through funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and in partnership with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and the Marble Arch Cave UNESCO Global Geopark is excited to have begun 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 Arleston Park about the programme with some pupils from Omagh County Primary School, 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 we are funding in Fermanagh and Omagh. 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 Programme Manager, Elmarie Swanepoel, stated;

“we are delighted to be able 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 that is 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 FODC 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 was opened for applicants in Autumn 2020 and the first 20 successful schools were selected through a competitive process. FODC, MACUGG and LELP aim to continue the scheme into 2022, funding dependant, by supporting more schools and education settings through the programme.

Details on Forest Schools for schools and communities are available at where families can also sign up for free to receive free outdoor learning resources.