A drive for more teachers to become Forest School practitioners is currently underway, after three educators became the first to be fully qualified to deliver the Faughan Valley Forest Schools programme.
Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, the Faughan Valley Landscape Partnership’s Forest Schools Programme sees staff from Groundwork Northern Ireland train teachers and youth leaders to deliver educational programmes in a woodland environment.
Teachers Jennifer Boyd from St.Colmcille’s Primary School, Monika Smallwood from Cumber Claudy Primary School and Annie Mullan from the Faughan Valley Landscape Partnership have recently qualified as “forest schools experts.”
Research estimates that 85% of the revised Northern Ireland primary school curriculum can be taught in a forest setting, with a focus on mathematics, data collection, record keeping, art and helping contextualize decision making in a real life setting.
Also, there are added benefits in terms of increasing awareness of sustainability and ecology issues among the children and young people participating.
Karen Kirkegaard, from Groundwork Northern Ireland. congratulated the teachers involved but urged others to come forward to be trained.
She said: “Forest Schools is an exciting and innovative educational experience, shown to be hugely beneficial to all those taking part. It is fantastic that Faughan Valley now has fully trained teachers delivering the Forest Schools Programme in local schools but Groundwork NI wants more teachers from the North West to take part.
“Our organisation works with the Northern Ireland Forest School Association to deliver the 12 week, certified training course to give teachers and youth workers the skills needed to get children out of the classroom and into local woodlands. Currently, five local schools are participating in the programme and there is still availability for other teachers who want to get involved.”
Schools or teachers interested in being trained to deliver the Forest Schools Programme can contact Karen Kirkegaard at Groundwork Northern Ireland on 028 7126 9448 or by at email@example.com