NI-wide outdoor learning project launched by Danske Bank and Eco-Schools

  • Pupils at 11 primary schools across Northern Ireland are engaging in a new outdoor learning project launched by Danske Bank and Eco-Schools NI.

    The programme involves creating a biodiverse and productive garden that incorporates an outdoor learning space at each school.

    In Northern Ireland, the Eco-Schools programme is run by the environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

    Led by Jilly Dougan from the charity, the children have been helping plant wildflowers and fruit such as apple trees, plum trees, raspberry and strawberry bushes.

    The spaces also include bug habitats and a plank seating area suitable for small groups or a whole class.

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    Volunteers from Danske Bank have been helping to create the gardens.

    Pupils are also to benefit from a series of workshops and webinars on topics such as biodiversity, healthy food choices, picking, preparing and preserving fruit, and pruning, cutting and propagating.

    Charlene McKeown, Environmental Education Manager of Eco-Schools, said: “Time spent outdoors is more important than ever to ensure our mental and physical health and wellbeing are looked after.

    "Much of the formal curriculum can be taught outside. These gardens will create an outdoor learning space as well as a safe haven for pupils and staff alike to spend quality time, and to learn.

    "Thanks to Danske Bank coming on board as a partner for the project, we are able to help address biodiversity loss at a local level, providing a holistic opportunity for children to reconnect with nature and truly learn to love and respect it through outdoor learning.”

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    Raymond Millar, Head of Property & Procurement Services at Danske Bank added that the programme "is a very relevant initiative that brings together education on biodiversity with the wellbeing benefits that outdoor learning brings."

    “Biodiversity is essential because it impacts on all of our lives, both directly and indirectly. Everyone has their role to play, including businesses," he commented.

    Arlene Poots, Principal of Lisburn Central Primary School said that the project has provided the school with its first garden area, "which will have a positive impact on pupils’ health and well-being as well as raise their awareness of biodiversity at a local level."

    "Everyone in our school community is excited about getting outdoors to use the seated area for learning and we are all looking forward to harvesting the fruit we have planted," she continued.

    "We are very grateful to Danske Bank and Eco-Schools for this fantastic opportunity.”

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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