To facilitate and support schoolchildren’s geological education, the Geopark has strong links with schools, local businesses, organisations and especially teachers. To ensure that its programmes are in line with the Irish and Northern Irish curricula, the Geopark works closely with the education authorities in both countries.
Teacher training, teaching material and other outreach activities also form a large part of the Geopark’s education programmes and have been hugely successful. According to O’Neill, the Geopark has ‘had a huge surge and increasing demand for that particular service in schools.’ These training sessions and resources, which range from information sheets to lesson plans and fieldwork activities, give teachers the confidence and knowledge to engage their students in geology and earth sciences.
What becomes very clear, not only from the positive feedback but also our conversation with O’Neill, is that Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark places education truly at the heart of its work. Its commitment and enthusiasm for fostering a better understanding of the planet that we all share is palpable, and a compelling example of what UNESCO designations are doing in this field in the UK.