The Council is working in partnership with Northern Ireland Forest School Association (NIFSA) to introduce the Forest schools initiative as a pilot in Hillsborough Village. The Council is committed to promoting our parks and open spaces as important educational and recreational resources and Forest Schools is a great way to achieve this. 

Both Beechlawn School and Downshire Primary School have signed to the programme that will begin in the Autumn term.  School that is involved in Forest Schools choose a park or green space that is within walking distance of their school which not only provides additional value in terms of exercise but ensures sustainability as there are no transport costs to consider. The pilot programme will use Hillsborough Play Park as the outdoor classroom.

By using local green spaces, it is hoped that the value the children place on these green spaces; the sense of ownership and pride, as their Forest School site, ripples out to parents, siblings, friends and throughout the community.

The Forest Schools programme is a great way to encourage schools to consider their local woodlands as a media for learning.  The number of Forest Schools in Northern Ireland is increasing and the Council is proud to be park of this initiative. 

All the Forest Schools activities can be linked directly to the curriculum which allows teachers to ensure continued progress towards academic targets.  The use of outdoor classrooms and change of venue is a fantastic experience for both children and teachers and has demonstrated to be particularly useful for children who do not normally thrive in the classroom. 

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