Milford woman Sally O'Donnell has the freshest approach to schooling.

Sally O’Donnell and her team at the Glen Outdoor School are celebrating ten years of leading the way in outdoor education this month.

What is so fresh and unique about Sally’s schools is that children spend 90% of their time outside. Children play in all sorts of Donegal weather in the three Letterkenny, Glenswilly and Ray schools, but they are always dressed appropriately. Throughout the year the children are in all sorts of uniform wear, including waterproof suits, sun hats, sun cream, thermals, woollen socks and even snow boots!

Sally O’Donnell (centre) and her team

Sally set up the Glen Outdoor School at a time when there were no other such schools in Ireland. The Milford woman took inspiration from other countries. Here, she was ahead of her time but hasn’t looked back since.

“We’re absolutely delighted to be celebrating ten years at Glen Outdoor School. When I first heard about “forest schools” in Scandinavia, I knew it was something I wanted to bring to Donegal.

“Their philosophy is that being outdoors is key to children’s development; it is an ideal place to learn to crawl, jump, balance and climb and their natural curiosity is stimulated by what they see, touch, hear and smell around them – for me, that’s what childhood is all about.”

The children follow the same curriculum as other pre-schools and prepare for primary school in the exact same way. The only difference is their tables are outside and instead of blackboards, they use trees.

Sally has seen a great growth in outdoor education: “Over the course of the past decade, the experiences of our children, combined with the increased awareness on the importance of outdoor education has seen a growth in the amount of childcare providers now offering outdoor learning opportunities for children. My hope is that this continues to grow over the next ten years.

“Outdoor education has both physical and mental benefits for children. One big factor for parents is weather – but as I always say, once children are dressed appropriately, they are comfortable in all kinds of weather.”

To mark the 10 year celebration, Glen Outdoor School will host a family fun BBQ on Friday, 23rd June from 5pm. All are welcome including past and present families, friends and anyone interested in joining the celebrations.

Inviting people to join the party, Sally said: “We’d like to thank everyone who has supported us over the last 10 years in Glenswilly, Letterkenny and Ray. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without your help and support. We’d love if everybody could join us for our 10th birthday celebration in Glen Outdoor School on Friday, 23rd June. It’s an open house on the day and all are welcome, so spread the word and bring some friends.”

For more information on the Early Learning Schools visit