Chief Forester celebrates success with Grandtully Primary School pupils

Pupils at Grandtully Primary School in Perthshire were visited by the Chief Forester for Scotland, Dr Helen McKay, this week to celebrate their recent success in the Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards.

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Pupils at Grandtully Primary School in Perthshire were visited by the Chief Forester for Scotland, Dr Helen McKay, this week to celebrate their recent success in the Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards.

Grandtully Primary School were joint winners of the Schools Award which recognises achievements in connecting local woodlands and learning within education establishments.

Dr McKay was keen to meet the pupils who won the award and encourage more schools to get involved in next year’s awards. She said: “The pupils, teachers and local community at Grandtully have worked hard to use their woodland space for the benefit of all.

“Trees and hedges have been planted, wooden structures built, and a great wildlife watching area created. This is a shining example of what we think many other schools across could achieve.

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“Although we have had an increase in applications for the Schools Award, we think there is potential to build on this and I would encourage schools to get involved – they could be next year’s winners.”

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards has two prestigious categories in the education sector – the Schools Award and Early Years Award. Both awards celebrate and recognise success in using woodland space as part of learning.

There is a growing awareness of the benefits of outdoor learning in woodlands. It helps to reinforce the importance of trees as vital resources, not only for people, but also for biodiversity and tackling climate change. 

Ciara Gibson, class teacher at Grandtully Primary School commented: 

“In being outside more often we all notice more. We notice when the berries first start forming, when the leaves first start falling. So many of these things we didn’t notice before COVID. 

“After the first lockdown we moved pretty much all learning outdoors. It’s made a huge difference to the way we learn.

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“The next step is to get a Yurt so we are able to withstand the wind that does effect the site, then we be much less reliant on the indoor space.”

From planting, growing and making products from trees, along with harvesting fruit grown in school grounds, pupils, staff and many volunteers have expanded their knowledge of the forest sector.

Getting young pupils involved in forestry at an early age will increase their interest and understanding of the natural environment and their community.

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