Gaelscoil na Daróige pupils and staff in Derry celebrate Bratach Glas eco-schools award

Pupils and staff at Gaelscoil na Daróige have been celebrating receipt of a prestigious Eco-Schools Green Flag.

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 12:05 pm

The Ballymagroarty school received the award in their first year of application to the environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

The Green Flag is the highest award given to Eco-Schools and symbolises excellence in environmental activity.

“At Gaelscoil na Daróige we have worked with our excellent pupils and have built great relationships within the Community to achieve the Green Flag Award,” said teacher Ríoghnach Ní Mhóra. “We were delighted to be able to submit our work in Irish.”

Caitlin Holmes, another teacher at the schools, said: “It was vital for us that our children would take the lead in the project and we created an Eco-Committee within the school who worked together to achieve our ambitious targets.”

The Eco-Committee of Gaelscoil na Daróige focused on three topics; Active Travel, Healthy Living and Litter.

They worked alongside Sustrans and achieved the Bronze Award for their hard-work. They are currently working towards their Silver Award.

“Our work with Sustrans was particularly exciting,” explained principal, Fiachra Ó Donghaile. “Cognisant of the growth of Irish Medium education, Sustrans provided Irish language materials for The Big Pedal. This enabled our children to take full part in the activities and also to develop Active Travel language in Irish.”

To promote Healthy Living in the school, Gaelscoil na Daróige focused on healthy eating and created a Fruit Tuck Shop every day at break time. The staff saw a huge increase in the number of healthy snacks the children ate daily and the children enjoyed trying new fruits. To decrease the amount of litter in the school, Gaelscoil na Daróige made a conscious effort to sort the rubbish providing each class with labelled bins for different types of rubbish (food waste, recyclable materials and general). Children within the Eco-committee oversaw this during break and lunch times and ensured rubbish was sorted correctly.

“We decided as a school that rather than dwell on the negatives of the pandemic we should strive to focus on positive outcomes for our children,” said Ríoghnach.

The school’s leadership and staff thanked Live Here Love Here, Sustrans and the RSPB for helping it achieve Green Flag status.

The International Eco-Schools Programme is operated by Keep NI Beautiful and is a free to enter programme. Please visit www.eco-schoolsni.org for further information.