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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Mid and East Antrim schools shine with eight green flags as Eco-Schools mark 30th anniversary

Mid and East Antrim Eco-Schools winners pictured with Mayor, Alderman Beth Adger

Mid and East Antrim Eco-Schools winners pictured with Mayor, Alderman Beth Adger


The Eco-Schools programme, a renowned global initiative led by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that aims to create environmental awareness and action, celebrated its 30th anniversary in Northern Ireland this week.


A two-day event at Stranmillis University College, supported by RiverRidge and Translink, brought together over 500 attendees, including teachers and pupils, to honour the outstanding achievements in environmental stewardship and sustainable practices by schools across the region.



Established in 1994 to involve young people in finding solutions to environmental and sustainable development challenges, the programme is operated locally by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and supported by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), local authorities and a range of other partners.


Teacher of the Year, Debbie Powell, Eco-Coordinator, Larne and Inver Primary School, pictured with Gemma Cowles, NIHE, and Gareth Lamrock, Keep NI Beautiful Field Officer.

Teacher of the Year, Debbie Powell, Eco-Coordinator, Larne and Inver Primary School, pictured with Gemma Cowles, NIHE, and Gareth Lamrock, Keep NI Beautiful Field Officer.


Northern Ireland’s record of success in the programme over the last three decades is significant. The Green Flag, an international accreditation for the environmental education and performance of schools, has been awarded to 2253 schools across the region to date. Northern Ireland was also the first in the world to award a Green Flag to one of its schools - Downpatrick Nursery in 1994.



Among the notable achievements for 2024, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council schools received 8 Green Flag Awards at Acorn Integrated Primary School, Fourtowns Primary School, Harryville Primary School, Larne and Inver Primary School, Moorfields Primary School, St Louis Grammar School, St Macnissi’s Primary School and Victoria Primary School.


Moorfields Primary School was recognised for its exceptional waste management initiatives and awarded the Wheelie Big Challenge Award, funded by Mid and East Antrim Council, Antrim and Newtownabbey Council, Belfast City Council, Lisburn and Castlereagh Council and Natural World Products.


Pupil of the Year for Mid and East Antrim, Emily Crooks, Y10, St Louis Grammar pictured with Gemma Cowles, NIHE, and Gareth Lamrock, Keep NI Beautiful Field Officer.

Pupil of the Year for Mid and East Antrim, Emily Crooks, Y10, St Louis Grammar pictured with Gemma Cowles, NIHE, and Gareth Lamrock, Keep NI Beautiful Field Officer.


Debbie Powell, Eco-Coordinator at Larne and Inver Primary School, received the Eco-Teacher of the Year Award whilst Emily Crooks from St Louis Grammar was named Eco-Pupil of the Year, with both awards sponsored by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE).


Emily was recognised for dedication in the formation and success of the Eco Council and EcoKlub at St Louis including maintaining the school's planters and hanging baskets, whilst Debbie’s inspirational leadership has driven the entire school to achieve their eco goals.



Mrs R McCrory representing Harryville Primary School, named Eco-School of the Year; pictured with Gareth Lamrock, Keep NI Beautiful Field Officer, Mayor of MEA, Alderman Beth Adger, and Charlie Jones from Nexus.

Mrs R McCrory representing Harryville Primary School, named Eco-School of the Year; pictured with Gareth Lamrock, Keep NI Beautiful Field Officer, Mayor of MEA, Alderman Beth Adger, and Charlie Jones from Nexus.


Harryville Primary School, was named Eco-School of the Year, sponsored by Nexus, earning the accolade for its work in tackling community litter problems and promoting a healthy living programme which encompasses healthy eating, physical health and mental health.


Carol Forster, Head of Business Development at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, praised the commitment of schools across Northern Ireland. She said:


“Our journey over the past 30 years has been remarkable. I commend our schools across Northern Ireland for their steadfast commitment in inspiring young people to care for the world around them. We’ve seen countless young people grow into environmentally conscious citizens, equipped with the knowledge and passion to make a difference.



“The Eco-Schools programme aligns with our wider organisational vision. We believe that through education, engagement and empowerment, we can change behaviours so that everyone can enjoy a beautiful, resilient, and healthy environment. 


“This event not only serves as a platform to celebrate our continued achievements, but also as an urgent reminder on how important it is to continue to inspire and invest in our youth to ensure that future generations actively participate in environmental stewardship. We’re grateful to all our partners for their continued support and strongly encourage more schools to join the programme and give every child in Northern Ireland the opportunity to get involved.”


A highlight of the event was the launch of Generation Nature - a new outdoor learning demonstration site at Stranmillis University College. This project, supported by Energia’s Greener Possibilities Fund, will provide trainee teachers with hands-on experience and practical skills to further the success of the Eco-Schools programme.



Dr David McKee at Stranmillis University College said:


“It's essential we continue to integrate environmental education into teacher training in Northern Ireland, to ensure that new teachers are equipped with the tools and the knowledge needed to strengthen our collective performance in Eco-Schools. Generation Nature will play an essential role in this endeavour – it’s a wonderful addition to the teacher training experience.”


For more information, please visit www.eco-schoolsni.org

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