Awards for All funding
a) One school involved with multiple teachers and parents being trained as Forest School Leaders
Name of School: Waringstown Primary School
Contact: Martin Gault, Vice-Principal
Amount Secured - £9,400
Initially, the school undertook a survey to find out if there was demand within the school from the teachers and pupils to become a Forest School. They also sought the views of the parents. The results were overwhelmingly positive. Martin secured funding to get himself and the other Primary 4 World Around Us Co-Ordinator trained to become Forest School Leaders. 4 other parents and classroom assistants were also trained. NIFSA worked with Waringstown Primary School every Monday between February to June. Three sessions were held over the day. Introductory sessions were held for the Nursery and Primary 1 teachers to give them an idea of what was involved in Forest Schools. The two Primary 4 teachers undertook one-hour Forest School sessions every week with their class. NIFSA led the first six sessions to demonstrate what was involved. Then each participant was observed leading two one-hour long Forest School sessions. A Forest School site was also developed within the school for all classes to use.
b) Two schools from different backgrounds working together
Name of schools: Currie Primary School and Holy Family Primary School
Contact: Siobhan McQuaid, Principal at Holy Family
Amount secured - £9,600
The two schools had been working together for many years in North Belfast. The Principals really wanted the two communities to totally integrate in this interface area. The Forest School Leader Programme was ideal, encouraging teachers and classes from both schools to meet regularly and take part in fun and exciting activities that would enthuse the pupils. The World Around Us Co-Ordinators took part with their P5 classes. Every Wednesday Holy Family and Currie Primary Schools would walk to Alexandra Park. The only Park in Europe to be divided by a "Peace Wall". NIFSA staff led the first number of sessions demonstrating how to minimize risk and encourage thinking skills. Activities included den building, raft building and tree mathematics. The pupils loved the sessions and enjoyed working together to take on the challenges set for them. Finally, the two teachers and classroom assistant were assessed leading Forest School sessions, to ensure they were confident and competent.
c) Multiple schools undertaking introductory Forest School sessions with a view to forming a "Cluster Group"
Contact: Claire Millar, Garvagh Development Trust
Amount secured - £9,000
Claire and Karin from the Garvagh Development Trust had the vision of revitalising Garvagh Forest. The only forest in Northern Ireland with a pyramid in it. Schools were approached and members of the local community invited to brainstorm ideas on how they could do it. A big focus was to get the young people involved in the forest. Forest Schools seemed the ideal vehicle to do this. Five local primary schools were brought to Garvagh Forest every week for four weeks. Often the schools worked together. The schools participated in activities - den building, map making, as blind as bat and more. Karin and Clare asked the schools and pupils after the introductory sessions what they thought of them and if they wanted additional training to become Forest Schools. All of the schools, plus a few more, want to get the additional training. Karin and Clare are submitting a BIG Lottery Grant - People and Communities Grant to support the additional training over a 3-year period.