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New ‘Native Wildlife’ Workshops from Ulster Wildlife

Niamh Nic Cana   Mon 19 Apr 2021

Starting in May 2021, we are offering three new species based workshops for pupils from P4 – P7 (Key stage two).

  • Barn Owls
  • Hedgehogs
  • Red squirrels

These are iconic and much-loved native species that Ulster Wildlife are currently working to conserve and protect because each one is now recognized as endangered in Northern Ireland.

Take part in one or all of these interactive workshops to learn all about these amazing local creatures, what is threatening their future and how we can each do our part to help them survive and thrive. Curriculum links to ‘The world around us’.

Each online workshop lasts an hour and a half, and costs £75 per class (Approx. 30 pupils)

Full instructions and resources for all activities and games will be emailed prior to the zoom session talk.

In due course, following Government guidelines on Covid 19, we hope to deliver a guide led version of the workshops at your school. The cost of this workshop will be £95 per class (mileage included).

Barn owls

This workshop includes an online zoom talk on Barn owls with time for questions and answers, an investigation of feathers, fun, active, outdoor learning games and a thought provoking activity which looks at the development of our countryside over time. Follow up activities are provided.


This workshop includes an online zoom talk on hedgehogs with time for questions and answers, an outdoor survey for pupils to complete around the school grounds leading to the development of an action plan for helping hedgehogs. The session also includes simple hedgehog craft and fun, active, outdoor learning games. Follow up activities are provided.

Red squirrels

This workshop includes an online zoom talk on Red squirrels with time for questions and answers, followed by fun, active, outdoor learning games and indoor/outdoor craft activities based on Red squirrels. Follow up activities are provided.

Please email the address below for more information or to book a session:


or Phone: 07703 673219

Join Sustrans Big Pedal!

Niamh Nic Cana   Tue 16 Feb 2021

We’re supporting Sustrans Big Pedal, the UK's largest inter-school cycling, walking, wheeling and scooting challenge.

This year's challenge will run from 19 - 30 April 2021. Sustrans Big Pedal is free to enter and there are daily prizes to be won.

On each day of the challenge, schools compete to see who can record the greatest proportion of their pupils, staff and parents cycling, walking, scooting or using a wheelchair to school. Pupils learning remotely can complete a physical activity at home or take another active journey with a family member.

Your school’s best five days will determine your final position, but you can log journeys on all ten days if you wish. For schools unable to take part in the main event we have a one-day challenge, which can include cycling, walking, wheeling and scooting activities during the school day for those attending school.

An active journey to school can help children achieve the 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day recommended by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers. The Department for Education have said encouraging active travel helps “to enable pupils to be physically active while encouraging physical distancing.”

The theme for Sustrans Big Pedal 2021 is amazing journeys. As well as getting active, children will be encouraged to see their local area from a new perspective, learn about the benefits of active travel and discover amazing journeys to school from around the world.

Daily lesson plans and physical activities will be free to download during the challenge, including activities related to Earth Day on 22 April. Options will be available for remote learners.

Sustrans Big Pedal is open to individual classes as well as whole schools. There are fantastic prizes up for grabs on each day of the challenge including equipment and accessories to help schools travel actively to school.

There is also the option to join in on Amazing You Day, a non-uniform day to celebrate the finale of the Big Pedal. Amazing You Day is a great way to involve all pupils in the Big Pedal even if they don’t cycle, walk, scoot or use a wheelchair to get to school. It is also the perfect day to make sure all your journeys are logged to the Big Pedal website. Schools can chose to raise money for Sustrans or their own active travel projects.

Registration is now open. For more information and to register your class or school, visit the www.bigpedal.org.uk.

Wrigley Litter Less Campaign and YRE this year together!

Georgina Black   Wed 30 Sep 2020   updated: Wed 07 Oct 2020

Do you feel the urge to do something for the environment and your community?

Get involved in the longest-running, international school campaign.

The Litter Less Campaign is celebrating its 10-year anniversary and we would like to celebrate this milestone with all teachers and pupils that have made this campaign such a fantastic success.

This year again, through the support of Mars Wrigley Foundation, we are delighted to support schools in implementing their anti-litter and waste projects to reduce waste production, pollution and promote positive behaviour change to protect our biodiversity and improve our communities.

25 Primary Schools are called to take action and show we can be the change we are asking for.

This year, in occasion of the 10th anniversary we are also celebrating inclusivity by opening the registration for the Young Reporters for the Environment Competition to Special Educational Needs Schools and P7 pupils. As part of the Wrigley Litter Less Campaign, the YRE competition will offer to young pupils 10+ the opportunity to share their environmental message by being creative through a photo campaign accompanied by a catchy phrase or a slogan, which your school could use as new Eco-Code if applying for a Green Flag.

Prize money is available for both projects and schools can apply for both initiatives at the same time.

Get in touch with Francesca for more information and hurry up since spaces are limited.

During these uncertain times our schools kept working on tackling litter issues in Northern Ireland successfully completing the Wrigley Litter Less Campaign on time and providing a great contribution to the international impact report the Foundation for Environmental Education present each year to the Mars Wrigley foundation.

Primary schools submitted their data and final reports on litter, waste and recycling system implementation within their schools, proving once again their commitment to promote positive behaviour changes and to protect the environment. Beside this success the Eco-Schools team registered a fantastic response to the campaign run by post-primary schools through the Young Reporters for the Environment competition. We had very high standard entries this year, and winners of the National Competition were announced in June through a video celebration on our social media channels. Winners of the International Competition will be announced in September, so stay tuned!

Registration for The Wrigley Litter Less Campaign and YRE 2021 will open soon.

Continue to Say No to Single Use

Georgina Black   Mon 10 Aug 2020   updated: Thu 27 Aug 2020

It’s term time again! The start of the new school year is an important date; we start as we mean to continue.

These have been very challenging times for the education sector.

As an Eco-school, you had already been working so hard to take action against plastic pollution before COVID-19.

This is a reminder of all the good work your school has done to reduce your single use plastic footprint! It’s more important than ever to pick up where we left off. We can influence pupils and staff to make sustainable switches now.

‘What’s in your lunchbox’ is a great place to start; encourage children to use reusable lunchboxes and reusable drinks bottles.

Even better news - scientists have recently published evidence that reusables are perfectly safe to use during the pandemic so you can encourage your school to return to non-plastic alternatives. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways of reducing your use in-school.

However, we understand all schools are acting with the interests of keeping staff and pupils safe at all times, therefore using reusables may be outside of your control at present but there is still plenty to tackle at home.

A recent survey by Everyday Plastic Survey has found that domestic plastic waste increased under lockdown conditions, particularly fruit and veg packaging, snack wrappers, parcel bags and PPE. So if you feel that you cannot reduce your use at school, you can definitely encourage staff and pupils to start at home! Simple switches such as using disinfectant spray and a cloth instead of antibacterial plastic wipes is a small step that makes a big difference.

Get inspiration from other schools who have made their Plastic Promise and remember to reduce your use where you can.


Eco-Schools Five Senses Challenge

Francesca Di Palo   Fri 17 Apr 2020   updated: Tue 19 May 2020

How much do we know of the world surrounding us that is not only what we see or hear?

Every week Eco-Schools NI will propose a new challenge inspired by our senses as part of our #stayconnected campaign during this COVID-19 emergency.

Every work done by the pupils of the same school can be used as evidence for your Green Flag application during this time.

Upload it to the Resource Library of your School Zone.

PLEASE SHARE WITH US ON our social channels

FACEBOOK | Eco-Schools Northern Ireland Official

TWITTER | Eco-Schools (@Eco_SchoolsNI)

INSTAGRAM | eco.ni KNIB Environmental Education

USING #stayconnected #ecoschoolsstayhome #yrestayshome OR SEND AN EMAIL TO francesca.dipalo@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org


You can taken on any of the challenges at any time!

#YREstayshome Challenge – Stay Home and Stay Active

Georgina Black   Mon 30 Mar 2020

#YREstayshome Challenge – Stay Home and Stay Active

YRE International is challenging you, your family and your students! We can still be an ambassador of the environment and influence our community while being at home.

Indeed, YRE students from all around the world show solidarity by staying inside to avoid the spread of COVID-19, but FEE and the YRE programme also want to transform this unusual time into an opportunity for them to investigate and report on environmental issues and solutions linked to the current situation.


Weekly challenges will be published on our social media platforms e.g. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Choose a challenge you want to participate in and respond to it by making posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Don’t forget to tag YRE International and us, so we can share your work! Use always the hashtag #YREstayshome and you will enter the international competition.


For articles, photo stories and videos you do not want to post on social media please contact Francesca and your work will be upload on the YRE International Hub.

Challenges are open to any young person willing to participate! Find out more here.

Translink Travel Challenge 2019-20

Georgina Black   Thu 28 Nov 2019   updated: Fri 20 Dec 2019

Translink and the Eco-Schools programme are encouraging schools across Northern Ireland to make ‘smart moves’ by participating in the Translink Travel Challenge, cutting down on car congestion around school gates and boosting pupil health and wellbeing.

The two-week challenge which schools can undertake during spring or summer school term, promotes walking, cycling, bus and train travel for the school run instead of car use. It incorporates curriculum-linked resources and encourages schools to develop sustainable travel plans as a way to achieve the prestigious Eco-Schools Green Flag Award.

Since its launch in 2008, pupils, parents and other members of the school community have made over 300,000 sustainable journeys, with the aim of protecting the environment and promoting positive behaviour change.

The Translink Travel Challenge is now open to all schools. You can complete your Challenge in any two-week period you chose as long as you submit the results by the deadline of Tuesday 19th May 2020. This means that your latest start date must be by Monday 4th May 2020 (May Bank Holiday 8th May).

In addition to Eco-Schools awards, classes and pupils who show the greatest change towards sustainable transport use will also be rewarded by Translink with funds and travel prizes.

If you are interested in taking part in the Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge, contact Francesca

Registration online is now available. Visit your School Zone and enter the Year Planner Section.

One BIG Opportunity

Georgina Black   Tue 29 Oct 2019   updated: Fri 20 Dec 2019

The Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs has launched a consultation to develop a 25 year plan for our environment.

That gives you One BIG Opportunity to make a real difference and we want to make sure decision makers hear from you.

Here’s how: copy and paste these environmental asks listed below, and email back to DAERA by 5pm on 5th February 2020.

Remember to say who you are and include your age.

It’s that simple. Use just ONE email to take your ONE BIG Opportunity to make a lasting impact on our environment.



Question No.1 Response

Create healthier communities by providing opportunities to get together more outdoors in accessible public spaces to do good and feel good through practical environmental action.

This should link in with other strategies around sustainable development, mental Health and well-being. Research has shown the benefits that volunteering has for an individual’s general health.

Questions No.4 Response

Inform every young person about climate breakdown, the loss of our wildlife and marine plastic pollution and what it means for our future. Help us find ways to raise awareness and to take action together. Declare a

climate emergency.

Question No.5 Response

Invest more in public transport making our dependence on cars less necessary and improving air quality

Question No.7 Response

Plant more native trees. We have the lowest level of tree cover anywhere in Europe and want to see 20% of our land planted with trees; important for nature to thrive.

Create a waste free society where we use less, waste less and stop polluting our seas. And anything we use, including single use plastics,

needs to be part of a truly circular economy.

Help everyone learn how to grow more tasty local food and provide plants for our pollinating bees.

Question No.10 Response

All of the above.

Nominations for Eco-Teacher of the Year Award now open!

Georgina Black   Tue 29 Oct 2019   updated: Mon 10 Feb 2020

Calling all teachers, principals, students, parents and members of the community. Is there a teacher that inspires you to grow, to build a better future and is truly passionate about the environment? Now is your chance to celebrate them by nominating them as the Eco-Teacher of the year.

How to enter:

Pupils are invited to explain why their Eco-Teacher should be awarded “Eco-Teacher of the Year 2020” in any format, whether that be in the form of a poem, letter, storyboard, essay, photos, video or whatever way best answers the question.

Written entries should be no more than 250 words and video entries should be no more than 5 minutes.

There will be two teachers selected; one primary school teacher and one post-primary school teacher. These teachers will be celebrated at this year's Eco-Schools Change Makers Youth Summit on 25th March 2020.

This competition is open to all schools. One entry per school. The deadline for the competition is the Friday 6th March 2020.

Email entries to: Eco-Schools or post them to Eco-Schools, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Bridge House, 2 Paulett Avenue, Belfast, BT5 4HD.