Schools and Groups can ‘branch out’ this autumn!

Brian Poots, General Manager of the Northern Ireland Forest School Association, shows pupils the basics of den building during a recent Forest School session. For more information visit www.nifsa.org.uk
Brian Poots, General Manager of the Northern Ireland Forest School Association, shows pupils the basics of den building during a recent Forest School session. For more information visit www.nifsa.org.uk

Schools and youth groups in the Mid Ulster area including Dungannon are being encouraged to ‘branch out’ this autumn and to consider trying out the forest school approach during the new school year.

Mid Ulster District Council and the Northern Ireland Forest School Association (NIFSA) are holding an information day on Saturday, September 29 at Hill of The O’Neill and Ranfurly House, Dungannon.

The event will take place from 9.30am to 3pm to let teachers and youth group leaders know how this innovative approach to learning can benefit young people.

The free, one-day, practical workshops (led by Brian Poots, General Manager of NIFSA) aim to get all interested schools and organisations registered and started on their Forest School journey.

The Forest Schools programme is based on a Scandinavian idea that considers children’s contact with nature from an early age to be an extremely important aspect of childhood development.

The concept helps children to achieve, and to develop confidence and self-esteem, through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland area, or in an outdoor setting such as a council park.

By incorporating innovative approaches to learning (such as undertaking small and easily achievable tasks) in a safe, outside space, children are encouraged to develop both their curiosity and their motivation to learn.

This is particularly important for those who find learning in the classroom challenging.

The first workshop will help organisations to register on the Forest School Awards website, which has all the resources available to support them to become an accredited Forest School and inspire them to continue Forest School activity every year.

The second workshop will take place outside in Hill of The O’Neill Heritage Park, as participants set up a Forest School and begin undertaking Forest School activities.

Booking for this information day is essential and will be taken on a first come, first served basis.

Please visit www.forestschoolawards.org and click on the Forest School Diary section.

Select Mid Ulster District Council in “search by Council area” and complete and submit the information for this event listing (NIFSA Forest School Family event).

For more information on the Council’s Parks and Countryside Development programme, contact Anne Reid, Parks and Countryside Development Officer, Dungannon Park on 028 8772 8690.

And for details about the Heritage Education Programme at Hill of The O’Neill and Ranfurly House (which includes Forest Schools) contact the Education Officer, Peter Lant, at 028 8772 8600.