Taste of the ‘Good Life’ for winning school

Principal Aubreen Forde, centre back, and pupils Cherith Henry and Matthew Chambers with, from left, Robert McCreery, energy & conservation officer, Education Authority, Southern Region; Charlotte Moore, Open+Direct;  John Laverty, retail network manager, Open+Direct Insurance; Doreen Muskett, chair of the NI Amenity Council. INPT25-004
Principal Aubreen Forde, centre back, and pupils Cherith Henry and Matthew Chambers with, from left, Robert McCreery, energy & conservation officer, Education Authority, Southern Region; Charlotte Moore, Open+Direct; John Laverty, retail network manager, Open+Direct Insurance; Doreen Muskett, chair of the NI Amenity Council. INPT25-004

With their own fruit and vegetables, butterflies, wild flowers and even ducklings, it is hardly surprising that Tandragee Nursery School has won a Best Kept award for the second year running.

The 78-pupil school bagged the title in the pre-primary school category of the Southern Education Authority awards.

Judges visited the school on two separate dates in May and found a “small site that has been converted into a magical learning experience”.

They also said the school displayed an impressive use of resources and praised the committed and enthusiastic staff.

Principal Mrs Aubreen Forde explained that the school was judged on a number of categories including pupil participation.

She said, “We do a lot of gardening. We have veg patches, fruit trees and fruit bushes as well as a herb wheel.

“There is also a greenhouse where the children grow vegetables such as courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweetcorn and peppers from seed.”
 In fact such is the abundance of this year’s harvest that the fruit and vegetables are being sold to parents.

The children also follow the life cycles of various animals an have hatched ducklings, watched frog spawn grow into frogs and caterpillars into Painted Lady butterflies.

At a gardening morning in April, parents went along to tidy the beds, do some planting and weeding and generally lend a hand.

Meanwhile, the small site also has a wildflower garden where the pupils plant bulbs and then can watch the mini beasts with their binoculars.

Tandragee Nursery does a lot of recycling which was also taken into account.

Mrs Forde said the success was down to the hard work of children, parents and staff, including a great building supervisor.

Lisanally Special School, Armagh was runner-up.

The awards, which are run by the Northern Ireland Amenity Council, were sponsored this year by Open+Direct Insurance.