New school with green fingers wins national award

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23 JUNE 2014NEWS RELEASE No: 16292

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Issued on behalf of Scotland's Finest Woods

An Irvine primary school that has only been occupied for 18 months has got off to a flying start and won a prestigious national award.

Dreghorn Primary entered its new ’Woodland Walk’ outdoor classroom in the 2014 Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards.

Their project - to transform an area waste ground into a vibrant woodland area and outdoor classroom, so impressed the judges that the school took first prize and became the inaugural winners of the Schools’ Trophy, donated by Crown Estate.

Head teacher, Philip Gosnay, said:

“We moved into our new staff and pupil designed state of the art school in October 2012 and while the new building is fantastic, the outdoor space was in need of a lot of TLC. We knew from experience how valuable an asset an outdoor area was to the health and wellbeing of the children, so we set about transforming the area of ground behind the new school.
“In order to turn it into a safe, useful and beautiful outdoor learning space We engaged with North Ayrshire Council to install fences and wheelchair friendly paths and a group of local partners to cut down dead or diseased trees, clear some of the brambles and generally reverse years of neglect. In keeping with the vision of the new school we can now enhance all our learners experiences in a beautiful real life setting."

The Eco Committee/ Pupil Council have worked tirelessly to raise the project’s profile in the school and generous donations of money and time from parents and friends have both enhanced the project and helped to build a community spirit.

The area has now been planted with a variety of trees, sown with wild flower seeds and had bat boxes, bird boxes and bug hotels put in place.

Mr Gosnay added:

“Creating this outdoor haven is an investment in our future because the pupils here now – and the ones who will follow on from them - are the custodians of out woodlands in the future.

“It is vital that they understand the importance of living in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way and teaching the children to make a few small changes in the way they live make enormous impact over time. By educating the young people of Dreghorn about the outdoors and the environment, we will be enhancing their lives and that of their families and friends.”

Peter Wilson, of the charity Scotland’s Finest Woods, which organises the annual awards programme, said:

“The whole school community has united behind this project and teachers, support staff and pupils area being educated in how to get the most out of it. There are great plans for the future, too, including opening up the woodland to other schools and community groups there by increasing the impact of this far sighted and project. It is a very worthy winner.”

(A full list of award winners and commendations and more information on the awards can be found at

Notes to Editors
1. The Scotland's Finest Woods Awards - run by independent charity, Scotland's Finest Woods - celebrate the contribution that woodlands can make to the people of Scotland and to its environment and economic prosperity.
The underlying principle of the Awards is that people from across Scotland work hard to support their local communities and the environment and the Awards provide a way to recognise and reward their achievements and so identify exemplars for others to follow.

2. Partners in the Dreghorn Primary project included: Hillhouse Quarry; Asda; Frasers Garden Centre; Forestry Commission Scotland; Woodland Trust; RSPB; University of Rural Studies; Forest schools; Morrisons; SNH; SSPCA

3. Scotland's Finest Woods relies on the generosity of partners and supporters for the resources needed to stage Scotland's premier woodland awards programme. Key delivery partners in 2014 are: BSW Timber Ltd; Egger Forestry; Forest Education Initiative; Forestry Commission Scotland; Iggesund Forestry; James Jones & Sons Ltd; Scottish Woodlands Ltd; UPM Tilhill; Woodland Trust Scotland. The following have also generously contributed to the running of the awards programme in 2014: Alba Trees; Central Scotland Green Network Trust; Community Woodlands Association; Confor; Institute of Chartered Foresters; Royal Scottish Forestry Society.

4. Media enquiries: Peter Wilson, Scotland's Finest Woods Awards, 07740 434 220 or 0131 226 4665 OR Paul Munro, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0131 314 6507