Amazing opportunity to become a Forest School launched in the Fermanagh and Omagh District on International Biodiversity Day

23rd May 2022

IMG 1414

To celebrate International Biodiversity Day, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, in partnership with the Cuilcagh Lakelands Global Geopark and Lough Erne Landscape Partnership (LELP), is delighted to launch the Forest Schools Programme for 2022.

The Forest Schools programme is delivered by the Northern Ireland Forest Schools Association (NIFSA) and aims to create an outdoor learning environment with a child-centred focus, which promotes sustainable outdoor education. Using innovative teaching methods, the programme encourages children to develop their curiosity and encourages exploration, while instilling a sense of community and civic pride within young people.

The Council’s Forest Schools programme is supported by funding from Lough Erne Landscape Partnership, though the National Lottery Heritage Fund NI), and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA) Challenge Fund.

Speaking about the Forest Schools programme, the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Errol Thompson said;

 “I am delighted that the Council is offering ten groups the opportunity to participate in the Forests Schools Programme. This programme provides our young people with an opportunity to connect with nature, whilst at the same time learning and acquiring a range of skills for their own personal development.

Through the Fermanagh and Omagh Community Plan 2030, the Council is committed to working in partnership with organisations to ensure that our young people have the best start in life, and our outstanding and culturally rich environment is cherished and sustainably managed. I am confident that through this programme these outcomes can be achieved.”

Elmarie Swanepoel, LELP Programme Manager said, “The Forest Schools programme has been a huge success to date, and we are delighted to be able to work in collaboration with our partners to provide local schools with the opportunity to avail of the training. This programme will enable pupils to connect with their local landscape and learn about the unique and rich biodiversity that can be found throughout this region.”

Teachers from across the District who have participated in the Forest Schools programme have previously spoken of the positive benefits they have found by immersing children in nature while supporting their emotional health and wellbeing. They have also recounted how they have personally embraced the opportunity to encourage their pupils to seize the chance to move outdoors encouraging even the quietest and most reluctant children in the classroom to find their voices in Forest School.

The Forest School programme involves a range of activities providing children with a hands-on learning experience in a natural environment. The programme can help to improve a child’s communication skills, self-belief, confidence, self-discovery, resilience, motivation and problem-solving skills, whilst also encouraging a positive impact on and respect for the environment, which they can share with their family and friends.

The programme is open to ten schools or organisations from the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area, who have not received funding for Forest Schools within the last three years. The successful schools and youth groups will participate in four sessions, providing training and assessment to enable a selected teacher/leader to qualify as a Forest School Leader Level 3. Each group will also receive a Forest School starter pack and an official NIFSA ‘Forest School’ plaque.

Details of the full qualification are available at www.forestschoolawards.org/ andwww.forestschoolsni.com/funding. 

All documents including the application form can be found on the Council’s Biodiversity webpage: www.fermanaghomagh.com/biodiversity.

For more information, please contact the Biodiversity Team by emailing biodiversity@fermanaghomagh.com or by telephone on 0300 303 1777.

The closing date for applications is Friday 24 June 2022.