About the Northern Ireland Forest School Association

Forest Schools are an exciting and inspirational experience for our children.

They encourage them to: IMG_2898 Wheatfield Edmund Rice

  • work as part of a team
  • build confidence and self-esteem
  • explore all senses
  • develop communication skills

…and much, much more.


Dr Gillian Humes, former Science Co-Ordinator Belfast Education & Library Board

“This is one of the few projects that truly integrates all elements of the revised curriculum.

It incorporates aspects of history, geography and science, delivers an  opportunity to develop thinking skills and personal capabilities, and has a strong emphasis on promoting numeracy and literacy. Even more importantly than this, the initiative connects children to their outdoor environment, stimulating curiosity and inspiring a love of the natural world that is likely to remain long after the end of primary school. Teachers participating in the project are well supported with expertise and resources, and enjoy the project as much as the children.”

NIFSA is an independent charity registered in Northern Ireland
We promote the Forest School ethos to educational establishments and like-minded organisations throughout the country. NIFSA was registered as a charity in 2008 and trains on average 10 schools/community groups a year in Forest Schools. NIFSA have taken more than 7,500 children in Forest School sessions.

NIFSA was set up by Brian Poots. Brian worked as a Senior Ecologist for Landlife, Conservation Volunteers Northern Ireland and Senior Woodland Officer for the Woodland Trust. Brian has been developing and delivering environmental education programmes for over 30 years now.

The rest of the NIFSA Board consist of:

Lindsay Houston – Lindsay is the Biodiversity Officer for Newtownabbey Borough Council

Jim McDaid – Jim is the Vice-Principal of Hazelwood Integrated primary School

George Lyttle – George has been involved in conservation projects for over 20 years. George currently works as a Senior Recycling Officer for Belfast City Council

Philip O’Kane – Philip is the Manager for RAPID (Rural Area Programme in Derry). Philip is a big supporter of Forest Schools and was instrumental in developing Forest Schools in the North West.

I hope that you find this outdoor learning website useful and it will give you the confidence to develop your own Forest School programme in Northern Ireland.

Brian Poots


Northern Ireland Forest School Association