This is Colin Barry’s bright idea for Galway.

To transform the existing school garden into an outdoor classroom for all.


We want to utilise the existing school garden by transforming it into an outdoor classroom for all to enjoy.

The existing school garden is currently open to the community as we work with Transition Galway, a voluntary community awareness group, in providing a sustainable space for growth and development in the city.

The children regularly sow and harvest vegetables in the garden and teachers use it as a resource for various classes. We will be involving children, parents, families and community groups to use the garden and it will be the first such space in the Westside community.

Our outdoor classroom will cater for a wide variety of need in the community – the existing space is large enough to have different areas for planting, harvesting, reading areas, imagination areas, teaching and learning, family areas, magical areas and much more.

We will be using the expertise of local gardeners, local tutors, local volunteers and community groups (e.g. Men’s Shed, Transitions) to work in the outdoor classroom providing employment in the locality.

We aim to provide a space that the children can be proud of, ensuring they are consulted in the design and implementation of said design. Their parents will be volunteers in the garden, carrying on the tradition of parental involvement in the school.

Our plan is to imagine and design the layout of the outdoor classroom with the Green Schools Committee and to start work in September 2016. Parents, staff and children will be consulted to get ideas for the design of the various areas.

Planting, as appropriate, will take place first and the defined areas will then be created. Paths will be laid throughout the garden and outdoor seating put in place. As the seasons dictate, harvesting and other work will be listed and carried out by classes and community groups. We aim to have the outdoor classroom completed by June 2017.

We are a DEIS Band 1 school, with 100 pupils. The demographics of the school population include Traveller children, asylum seekers, children of foreign national parents and special needs children.

We strive to enable the children to access opportunities through the school curriculum.

Opportunities to engage in learning through creative means in the community are denied to them as their families often lack the financial means or interest to do so. We strive to enable the children to access these opportunities through the school curriculum.

The outdoor garden with defined areas as mentioned above will help us achieve this for the families of Westside, providing a safe space to learn, to enjoy and to develop their own sense of pride in their community.