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Ballymena Primary School coming out TOPS after COVID

Staff, pupils and parents at Ballymena Primary School are delighted to be able to celebrate the presentation of the TOPS Playground award this week.

The Ballymena school is the first school in Northern Ireland to earn the prestigious award for outdoor learning since Covid struck in 2020.

Members of the TOPS play board spoke highly of the achievements of the school and praised the fact that it was gained under what we all know were very difficult circumstances.

Principal, Mrs E Ritchie was delighted and stated that this was an important award not only for the development of outdoor learning in the school but also for promoting positive attitude and mental health amongst all pupils.

“The children have really enjoyed being part of the development of outdoor learning throughout the school and they and their families have participated whole heartedly in every activity. We are grateful to all of our staff, Governors and parents who joined with us as we developed this aspect of school life.

“It is interesting that DENI have now got behind the TOPS initiative and are promoting it in many schools across the Province, we are glad to be in a position now to already have it and so we can continue to build on this progress and to move forward.”

Ballymena Primary School have also gained their status as a Nurture School and Forest School since the pandemic as well as securing a grant from The Royal Society for Science.

“We will go on finding ways to meet the needs of our pupils in the academic realm where we do enjoy success, but equally it is vital that we meet the needs of children in terms of their social and emotional needs,” said Mrs Ritchie.

“This has been highlighted as we come out of a time when those needs have been under a lot of strain. Getting children outside, enjoying play, being creative and social has helped our pupils settle back into school life as well as offering them opportunities to develop in those areas.

“The research linking positive metal health to being outdoors and around nature is undisputable, but this also helps to promote positive results in the class. We are always aiming to promote learning that develops the whole child, intellect, emotional and social and the promotion of outdoor play does exactly that.”


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