Three local teachers have been awarded with a special qualification that enables them to take pupils into a forest environment on a regular basis in order to teach many different aspects of the school curriculum.
The Mayor of Derry Councillor Brenda Stevenson presented the teachers, all from the Faughan Valley area, with their OCN certificate Level 3 certificate in Forest Schools.
Mary Redmond, St. Mary’s Primary School, Altinure, Laura McGeady, Glendermott Primary School and Moira O’Kane, St.Colmcilles Primary School all achieved the qualification through a 12 week practical course.
Forest Schools have demonstrated success with children of all ages who visit the same local woodlands on a regular basis and through play have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment.
They are encouraged to learn how to handle risks and most importantly use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others.
Endorsing the programme on behalf of Derry City Council, Councillor Stevenson said the initiative was a “great way” for schools to use their local woodlands as a resource.
She added: “We are fortunate to have a good number of quality woodlands in the Faughan Valley which schools in many other areas do not have.”
Forest School programmes run throughout the year, going to the woods in all weathers (except for high winds).
Children use full sized tools, play, learn boundaries of behaviour; both physical and social, establish and grow in confidence, self-esteem and become self motivated.
The training was delivered by Northern Ireland Forest School Association and Faughan Valley Landscape Partnership through funding from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), “Landscape Partnerships.”