Ten schools across Northern Ireland are the latest recipients of a quality award in recognition of their outstanding outdoor play offer. Awarded by PlayBoard NI, the lead organisation for the development of children and young people’s play, the Taking Outdoor Play Seriously (TOPS) Award is presented to schools for their commitment to making their pupils’ outdoor play experience the best that it can be.

Supported by the Department of Education and facilitated by PlayBoard, the TOPS training programme and quality award supported the schools over the past academic year to develop and transform their external environment to encourage and deliver more outdoor play.

Congratulating the award recipients, Jacqueline O’Loughlin, Chief Executive, PlayBoard said:

“I would like to congratulate the ten schools on achieving PlayBoard’s TOPS Award. This is a significant achievement which demonstrates their dedication and commitment to developing and sustaining outdoor play in their schools, and their enthusiasm for providing quality play opportunities for their pupils.

“TOPS is a whole-school effort so I commend everyone involved in the process including school staff, parents/carers and of course the pupils themselves, for their important input.

“Time playing outside offers many and varied benefits for children and young people and has a critical role in schools. I am delighted the pupils have been enjoying their new and improved play spaces which offer great opportunities for play, learning and fun during the school day.”

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen said:

“The importance of outdoor play for children’s development cannot be underestimated. It supports children to be physically healthier and undoubtedly has significant mental health and educational benefits. It also allows them to have fun while learning.

“I offer my congratulations to each of the ten schools on achieving the Taking Outdoor Play Seriously Award. It is testament to the commitment and hard work of staff, children and parents. I am pleased that all those involved in this partnership approach have recognised the benefits of outdoor play in our young people’s learning and I look forward to seeing them build on the success of this award.”

TOPS Award recipients::

  • Ardnashee School and College, Derry/Londonderry
  • Carr Primary School, Lisburn
  • Gaelscoil Eoghain, Cookstown
  • Gilford Primary School
  • Moneynick Primary School, Randalstown
  • Orangefield Primary School, Belfast
  • Poyntzpass Primary School
  • Sacred Heart Boys Primary School, Belfast
  • St. Colmcille’s Primary School, Ballymena
  • St. Joseph’s Primary School, Drumquin

A further four schools have recently renewed their TOPS Award for an additional two years, demonstrating their ongoing commitment to quality outdoor play in their school.

TOPS Award renewals:

  • Ballymacash Primary School, Lisburn
  • Brookfield School, Moira
  • Limavady Central Primary School
  • Termoncanice Primary School & Nursery, Limavady

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter where we will be sharing some of the celebrations from the TOPS Award recipients in the coming days.

Read more about TOPS and play in schools.

Pictured at Gilford Primary School’s celebration are: Linsey Farrell, Deputy Secretary, Department of Education; Doreen Armstrong, Principal, Gilford PS and Alan Herron, incoming CEO, PlayBoard.