The first awarded Eco-Schools in the world

It is truly a family affair at Downpatrick Nursery School in Northern Ireland (NI). This year marked a landmark moment for Eco-Schools when Downpatrick Nursery School, the first school in the world to be awarded an Eco-Schools Green Flag in 1994, became the first school in NI to be awarded its 10th Green Flag, making it a national leader in sustainable education.

Three generations of the Rutledge family, who have been involved at the school from the start, celebrated the moment. Catherine Rutledge parent to Alan, pupil at the time of the first flag, has worked at the school for a further 8 flags and Eboni, Alan’s daughter, is a current pupil.  




"I had no idea all those years ago that we were the first school in the world to achieve this award!"


“I was excited when the information about the first ever Eco-Schools Award Scheme arrived in the Nursery School in 1994. I was always very interested in environmental issues and encouraged the children to take an interest in wildlife and nature. I had no idea all those years ago that we were the first school in the world to achieve this award! I am so delighted that the Nursery School has not only maintained this eco-friendly ethos but strengthened and developed it to win their 10th Eco-School Award after 24 years”.  Kelsie Erskine, Former Principal of Downpatrick Nursery School





"The 'green' theme has become an integral part of our school life"


Today the high standards are still being honoured and children are actively encouraged to promote environmental ideas and action plans to benefit not only the school but also the wider community.

"We are pleased to see that our parents and the local community all enjoy celebrating our success as an Eco-School and they actively embrace and support all the topics and initiatives that we promote. We aim to continue to find new ways of collaborating with other local schools of all ages in combined Eco-Schools projects."  Lorna Burns, current Principal at the school


  • Story and pictures provided by Keep Northern Island Beautiful