Forest School Awards
The outreach programme for Learning Without Walls

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Currie Primary School

Council area: Belfast City Council
Forest School contact: Mr Stephen King
Main Forest School contact email address: sking785@currie.belfast.ni.sch.uk
School website address: www.currie.schooljotter2.com/home
Year of Forest School accreditation: 2015

Background:

Holy Family and Currie PS have just completed a 10 week Forest School project led byNIFSA in Alexander Park, Belfast. Primary 5 children were involved along with classteachers.

From the offset the children mixed well with their peers from the schools. Theyworked in the same groups for the 10 weeks and all participated with enthusiasm.

Each week the same rules were applied at the start of the lesson. Resources weresupplied either by Brian (NIFSA Leader) or by the teachers. Boundaries were set andthe children were very good at staying within these. Brian led the initial sessions sothat the teachers being trained could observe best practice.

Activities led by Brian included location study and map making of the park, mini-beasthunts, learning about age and girth of trees, making bug houses/hotels, raft making,making shelters and litter picking. All sessions were active, exploratory andinvestigative. They incorporated planning, group work and team building. Thechildren gained so much knowledge, experience and confidence through participationin these activities. The pupil's communication skills were developed and expandedthroughout the programme.

3 sessions were then planned, resourced and delivered by the teachers: Mr King(Currie PS), Mrs Hickey and Mrs Ryan (Holy Family PS).

Session one focussed on leaves. The session started with a leaf relay game followedby a leaf identification hunt and finished with leaf rubbing and an art activity.

The second and third sessions were based on flowers: identification, colour matchingand creating their own flowers from natural resources gathered in the park. Thechildren's creations were beautiful.

Each session finished with an evaluation by the pupils and in every case the childrenwere very positive and enjoyed the activities.

This project, although extensive, has brought a new dimension to the World AroundUs area of the curriculum. It has recreated the notion of outdoor learning and usingnature as a focus for natural science.

The schools have worked well and greatly benefited from the programme and aim tocontinue and develop their experiences further in the forthcoming year.

Stephen King

Forest School setting: The two schools meet at Alexandra Park. This is owned and managed by Belfast City Council. The Park is the only Park in Europe that has a Peace Wall running through the middle of it. There are mature trees, a small stream runs through it and plenty of wild woody habitats. As well as formal play grounds. An excellent site.

Read an evaluation of the NIFSA Forest School Programme for Currie Primary School


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