Congratulations to Ballymena Primary School on achieving their TOPS Award!

This week, staff from PlayBoard were delighted to visit Ballymena Primary School to present pupils and staff with their Taking Outdoor Play Seriously Award. The TOPS Quality Assurance Programme and Award for Outdoor Play is aimed at supporting schools to bring about a comprehensive transformation of the school environment to encourage and support outdoor play and learning.

Staff, pupils and parents celebrated the presentation of the TOPS Award – the school is the first in Northern Ireland to earn the prestigious award since the pandemic began.

Shauneen McCusker, Play Development Officer said, “Ballymena Primary School must be commended on achieving their TOPS Award so soon after coming out of lockdown, where they continued to progress play at break and lunchtime. With the physical changes to the play environment and the extended time for play the children are sure to have plenty of FUN during their school day. Well done!” 

Mrs Ritchie, Principal of Ballymena Primary School stated that this was an important award not only for the development of outdoor learning in the school but also for promoting a 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 … 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 mental 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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