NI primary school has red squirrels, allotments and Sir David Attenborough as a fan

St Francis PS eco project
St Francis PS eco project

Not many schools have a red squirrel sanctuary, allotments for the community and the green light from Sir David Attenborough.

St Francis Primary School in Lurgan does not just have allotments for the kids but also the community as well as the most amazing red squirrel project.

Sir David Attenborough gives the thumbs up for St Francis Primary School

Sir David Attenborough gives the thumbs up for St Francis Primary School

Bang in the centre of town, it has a beautiful woodland and, with the talented enthusiasm of teacher Dwyer Coleman, the school has been awarded countless awards for its creative, responsible and dynamic approach to teaching the value of the land and animals..

He started at the school just six years ago but since then he has helped the kids learn about growing food from scratch, what the land and its creatures mean to us as human beings.

Not only that but he has organised, via Belfast Zoo, a wonderful sanctuary for red squirrels - a species which, while native to Ireland, are on the decline due to the invasion of the rather more common grey squirrels.

The school officially launched their eco-project on Friday with a team of children who are no strangers now to getting their hands dirty and growing food.

At the allotment

At the allotment

If you dander around the school, their ethos is the epitome of environmentally friendly and you might even bump into the odd duck or spot the elusive red kite fly overhead,

And while the allotments are thriving, it is the red squirrel enclosure that is fascinating.

They have three and, with the help of Belfast Zoo, are hoping to breed this species which has become a rarity in Ireland.

The young kits born in the school enclosures will then be released by NIEA into specially selected sites across Northern Ireland to bolster existing colonies.

The pupils of St Francis PS know how to grow food

The pupils of St Francis PS know how to grow food

The passion of Mr Coleman has inspired the children to such an extent that they have received letters of support and enthusiasm from Sir David Attenborough.

The allotments, half of which are for the pupils to grow produce, are also rented by members of the community at a small surcharge and with the proviso that they come and help clean up around the school.

At the hide to see the squirrels

At the hide to see the squirrels

Lots of activity at the woodlands beside St Francis Primary School

Lots of activity at the woodlands beside St Francis Primary School