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Posted on Mon 16 Oct 2017

Belfast pupils turn recycling into a tasty treat.

Schools across Belfast are tackling the important topic of food waste with the launch of the exciting Wheelie Big Challenge run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Eco-Schools and supported by Belfast City Council. With alarming figures like 7 million tonnes of food being thrown away from UK homes every year, pupils are investigating what can be done in school and at home to reduce waste.

Pupils from Botanic Primary School have discovered that recycling food at school and at home means great compost, and great compost means great veggies! They have seen the process full circle to the benefit of their school vegetable patch. They also know it is not just their vegetables that benefit, but the environment as well, as food waste going to landfill is a top contributor to greenhouse gases – 7% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent. 

Last year saw pupils from 34 Belfast schools investigate and engage in practical actions to reduce waste, particularly food waste, in school and at home by reducing, reusing and recycling. Botanic Primary School placed food caddies in all their classrooms and managed to reduce the food in their bins by over 90%. They went on to impress the judges at the Wheelie Big Challenge competition in June and scooped first prize and £500 for their eco work. 

Ruth Van Ry, Environmental Education Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “The Wheelie Big Challenge is an action based, fun project and competition for all schools in Belfast to think about how they could improve the environment by reducing waste and recycling more. We are delighted to be once again supported by Belfast City Council and are looking forward to seeing all the interesting ideas from schools. We invite all school pupils in Belfast to put their eco-thinking caps on and get involved”. 

Alderman Tommy Sandford, Chair of the People and Communities Committee, Belfast City Council said: “We are pleased to be working with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful again on this competition, building on the success of the past few years. This competition gives schools the opportunity to win great prizes while helping to protect the environment and reduce waste disposal costs. With research showing that around a third of food is wasted, we hope this competition will encourage pupils and their families to think about the food they waste at home and in school and do something about it. ”

The Wheelie Big Challenge is open now to all schools in Belfast City Council and will run until April. You can register your interest in the competition and receive resources and information by emailing cathy.gorman@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org or by calling 02890 736920.

Posted on Thu 05 Oct 2017

Eco-Teacher of the Year competition now open!

Eco-Schools are running the Eco-Teacher of the Year award for a second year and we want to hear from your pupils!

We’re calling on pupils to nominate their eco heroes, warriors and legends. Pupils should tell us in no more than 100 words why their teacher should be Eco-Teacher of the Year 2018. This can be in the form of a poem, letter, storyboard, essay, photos, video or whatever way best answers the question – just remember entries must be within the word limit!

This competition is open to all schools and the deadline is Thursday 1st February 2018. You can download more information and register through the Eco-Schools Planner in your School Zone. Entries can be emailed to eco-schools@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org or posted to Eco-Schools, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Bridge House, 2 Paulett Avenue, Belfast, BT5 4HD.

The winning teacher and some pupils will be invited to attend the Eco-Schools Teachers Conference in March to receive their award.

We can’t wait to hear about all you wonderful teachers!

Posted on Tue 29 Aug 2017

Would your school like to become a Forest School?

A series of NIFSA promotional events.

The Northern Ireland Forest School Association (NIFSA), is the lead organisation in developing and delivering Forest School programmes throughout Northern Ireland. An independent charity set up in 2008.
Forest School sessions take place either within your own school grounds, your local council park or woodland. You do not need hundreds of acres of ancient forest to get involved or travel miles by minibus to find a suitable site.
Forest Schools have been shown to improve pupils’ physical and mental health, develop greater self-confidence, improve speech and communication and encourage greater team work and creative thinking skills. The Education Training Inspectorate have observed NIFSA Forest School sessions and have welcomed their inclusion in the school curriculum. It is an ideal way to deliver the World Around Us and 95% of other curriculum related topics.

NIFSA have worked with over 50 Nursery and Primary Schools across Northern Ireland, supported over 24,000 pupils learning outside the classroom and awarded Forest School Leader Level 3 qualifications to over 25 teachers.
NIFSA is holding a series of promotional events in different Council areas. The events will focus on:
a) Forest School Awards. An opportunity to get free Forest School training through your local Council.
b) The Distance Learning Forest School Programme – an affordable method to become a Forest School.
c) Learning About Forests (LEAF) – NIFSA is the National Operator in Northern Ireland for delivering LEAF, an Eco-Schools complimentary programme. As an extra bonus schools will receive LEAF accreditation through undertaking the Forest School Programme.
d) NIFSA Membership – getting qualified as a Forest School is only the beginning of your journey. Find out about becoming a NIFSA Member.

All events are scheduled to take place at 1.30pm:
Causeway Coast and Glens, Mill Strand Integrated Primary, 14 September 2017.
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, Waringstown Primary School, 21 September 2017.
Ards and North Down, Holywood, Steiner School, 28 September 2017.
Mid and East Antrim, Carrick Central Primary, 5 October 2017.
Antrim and Newtownabbey, Fairview Primary, 12 October 2017.
Belfast, Hazelwood Integrated Primary, 19 October 2017.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Downpatrick Nursery, 26 October 2017.
Derry City and Strabane District Council, St Columbas Primary School-Newbuildings, 2 November 2017.

For further details and to register your attendance please visit the Forest School Awards website.

Posted on Tue 04 Jul 2017

Ulidia Integrated College Scoop Top International Reporting Award.

Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) is an international programme run by the Foundation for Environmental Education in 34 countries. The programme aims to empower young people to take a stand on environmental issues they feel strongly about and give them a platform to articulate these issues through the media of writing, photography or video in an annual reporting competition. YRE in Northern Ireland is administered by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful through the Eco-Schools programme and is open to students aged 11-21 years.

Ulidia Integrated College, Carrickfergus, a Green Flag Ambassador Eco-School, has been working with Lycee Pole School in Madagascar on a number of environmental projects this year. They teamed up to enter an article in the International Collaboration category of the YRE competition 2017.

The combined project has been very interesting for the two schools, seeing the different issues pupils face in both countries but also their shared concerns and passion to care for the environment. Their article focused on the production and consumption of coffee. The pupils in Madagascar, a coffee growing region, considered the challenges of growing and selling coffee faced by Madagascar farmers. Ulidia pupils considered the benefits of purchasing Fair Trade coffee here at home and how it helps farmers around the world get a fair deal for their crops.

The article was submitted to the International YRE Jury in Copenhagen in June and both schools were delighted to win first place in the International Collaboration category. Their article will now be published in the Huffington Post and is available to read from the YRE website www.yre.global

Ulidia pupils in Year 10 also decided to raise money for the community in Madagascar and together through various activities raised £1500, enough to dig a well for a local primary school close to Lycee Pole.

Ruth Van Ry, Eco-Schools Coordinator Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “We are so pleased that this international collaboration has resulted in a first place prize for these two schools. The environmental issues we face are global and will require a global solution. These young people are setting an example for all of us to follow. Well done to Ulidia for running such a successful Eco-Schools and YRE programmes, we hope they will inspire others to take part too.”

The Eco-Schools programme is delivered to schools throughout Northern Ireland in partnership with a range delivery partners including DAERA and most Councils. For more information or take part in YRE please contact us.

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YRE International Collaboration winning article 2017

Posted on Fri 30 Jun 2017

Eco-Schools NI reach landmark 1000th Green Flag in record breaking year.

Northern Ireland schools continue to excel in the international Eco-Schools programme, achieving a record number of Green Flag awards for the 6th consecutive year and awarding their 1000th Green Flag.

Eco-Schools is the world's leading environmental education programme. It is a pupil-led initiative with the aim to make environmental awareness and practical action an intrinsic part of school life.

Eco-Schools is operated by environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, which is dedicated to inspiring everyone to help make Northern Ireland a cleaner, greener and healthier place in which to live. The programme which has gone from strength-to-strength in recent years is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

This year marked a landmark moment when Walker Memorial Primary School, Dungannon, received their first Green Flag and Northern Ireland’s 1000th Green Flag.

Diane Lockhart, Eco-Coordinator at Walker Memorial Primary School said: “The children were totally delighted that we got the 1000th Green Flag. All pupils are very involved with the areas of the Eco-Committee’s action plan it has brought these areas of learning alive.  Pupils are highly motivated, inspired and focused to partake in lessons related to Eco-Schools.  The programme provides pupils with another avenue of learning, those who are more practical and creative thrive on being involved in identifying the needs of the school and sharing their ideas for future action.” 

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful added: 
With support from the Department, Local Councils and many other partners, Eco-Schools is engaging our young people, who will be the next generation of business and political leaders, in developing eco-friendly behaviours that also help our economy. The programme is growing every year with more and more schools and young people making a real, tangible and positive impact on our environment through saving energy, reducing waste, picking up litter, travelling sustainably, providing biodiversity habitats and much more. Congratulations to Walker Memorial and all our schools who have achieved their Green Flag award; together we have reached this landmark 1000th Green Flag.’

This school year 149 schools achieved the prestigious, internationally recognised Green Flag award in recognition of the excellent progress they have been making in protecting the environment and moving towards a more sustainable future. The first Green Flag in the world was awarded to Downpatrick Nursery School in 1994. Since then the programme has consistently grown. There has been a year-on-year increase in the number of schools achieving the award for the 7th year in a row - increasing from 55 in 2010/11 to 97 in 2011/12; 103 in 2012/13; 114 in 2013/14; 128 in 2014/15; 136 in 2015/16 and now 149 in 2016/17.

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List of Green Flag School 2016-17