Return to the outdoor classroom for Heritage in Schools

In September, the Heritage Council launched a blended Heritage in Schools programme – a mix of outdoor, in-person and virtual visits. To celebrate this long-awaited return to the outdoor classroom, and as a way of supporting teachers and students at a time when the benefits of nature and the outdoors are at an all-time high, the programme is being offered FREE to schools for a limited period before the end of 2021.

Like so many other organisations the Heritage Council had to quickly adapt programmes to the new working norms brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The very popular Heritage in Schools programme, which has always promoted hands-on, interactive learning and the outdoor classroom went virtual in the 2020/2021 school year, offering a mix of pre-recorded and live interactive sessions for children and teachers.

These virtual session covered a range of topics from the wonderful world of bats to the secrets of Irish ringforts, hedgerows to heraldry, traditional song to music of the plants, and lots more! Whilst this virtual programme would never take the place of face-to-face visits it was welcomed by participating schools – children engaged well and even an ‘on-screen’ visitor was a welcome distraction during these unsettling times.

In September, when easing of restrictions allowed visitors to schools again, Heritage in Schools launched a blended programme – a mix of outdoor, in-person and virtual visits. To celebrate this long-awaited return to the outdoor classroom, and as a way of supporting teachers and students at a time when the benefits of nature and the outdoors are at an all-time high, the programme was offered free to schools for a limited period. The uptake, to date, has been huge with the highest number of bookings ever recorded for the scheme for this period.

Maria Walsh, Heritage in Schools Programme Manager, noted: "We're delighted with the response from schools and specialists. Our Heritage Specialists dusted off their gear, put safety measures in place and sprang back into action with gusto … travelling the length and breadth of the country, once again, to share their expertise with eager schools. Topics which were traditionally delivered indoors moved outside as schools embraced the outdoor classroom and the opportunity to welcome visiting specialists back. The Heritage in Schools programme has always promoted the outdoor classroom and the opportunites it provides are evident now more than ever before."

A limited number of bookings for 2021 are still available. To apply for a visit:

  1. Go to heritageinschools.ie and browse the specialists in your area
  2. Contact the specialist to discuss visit content and availability (contact details are at the bottom of the specialists' profile page)
  3. Complete the online booking form ONLY after the date has been agreed with the specialist

For further information please contact Maria Walsh:

Ph: 086 083 4685/Email: mwalsh@heritagecouncil.ie

***Images:

Students from 6th Class in St John’s National School in Kilkenny learning about Normans and Kilkenny Castle with Heritage in Schools specialist, Francesca (Frankie) O’Callaghan

Photographer: Dylan Vaughan