Forest School Awards logo
Learning Without Walls
Reconnecting children, teachers and families with nature
Forest School Awards logo
A partnership between NIFSA and the Dufferin Foundation at Clandeboye
NIFSA - logo

About the Northern Ireland Forest School Association (NIFSA)

The Northern Ireland Forest School Association (NIFSA) has been developing Forest School programmes in Northern Ireland since 2008. NIFSA is a registered charity and is a company limited by guarantee. NIFSA is recognised as the foremost authority on Forest Schools in Northern Ireland and is hugely respected internationally.

Brian Poots
Brian Poots, founder and CEO of NIFSA
explaining some den building techniques

Since 2008 NIFSA has developed its own Government recognised Forest School Leader qualification. This insures that training and accreditation are to the very highest standard. Teachers that attain the qualification are confident and competent at delivering top quality environmental education programmes with their pupils and train other teachers within their school to become involved.

NIFSA is working with hundreds of schools and nurseries throughout Northern Ireland through a variety of different programmes. Every year it trains and accredits dozens of teachers and youth leaders to achieve their Forest School Leader Level 3 qualification. NIFSA engages tens of thousands of children in outdoor learning annually.

NIFSA is a membership organisation and also secures its finances through service contracts with local authorities and central Government in Northern Ireland. Finally, local businesses also support NIFSA to work with local schools.

Dr Gillian Humes, former Science Co-Ordinator Belfast Education & Library Board said this about the work of NIFSA...


"This is one of the few projects that truly integrates all elements of the revised curriculum.

It incorporates aspects of history, geography and science, delivers an opportunity to develop thinking skills and personal capabilities, and has a strong emphasis on promoting numeracy and literacy. Even more importantly than this, the initiative connects children to their outdoor environment, stimulating curiosity and inspiring a love of the natural world that is likely to remain long after the end of primary school. Teachers participating in the project are well supported with expertise and resources and enjoy the project as much as the children."