Secondary Schools Programme

Our Education Centre is situated at the Upper Lake in Glendalough. The aim of the National Park’s Education programme is to raise an awareness of nature and conservation issues. To this end, we offer field study days to secondary schools. 

How to Book

We only take bookings by phone (0404-45656). 

Our service is free of charge. (However, there may be a charge for parking.)

We insist that groups bring at least one adult leader for every 10 students. These leaders are responsible for the supervision of the group. 

The school must photocopy one worksheet for each student. 

Further details will be sent when you book.

Secondary School Programme at a glance


Leaving Certificate Woodland Ecology

Age Group:  5th & 6th Years

Time of the Year: March to October only

Designed to suit the fieldwork requirement of the leaving certificate, this study in the woods of Glendalough involves:

  • Mapping the study site
  • Keying out 5 plant species
  • A vegetation survey - both a frequency survey and a percentage cover survey.
  • Sampling & identifying invertebrates
  • Examining invertebrate lifestyles
  • Examining mammal & bird tracks & signs
  • Exploring competition & adaptation
  • Recording climatic, edaphic, abiotic & biotic factors 
  • Discussing food webs.
  • Conservation & National Park issues

Leaving Certificate Woodland Ecology

Age Group:  5th & 6th Years

Time of the Year: March to October only

Designed to suit the fieldwork requirement of the leaving certificate, this study takes place up on the Wicklow Gap. The study is similar in content to the woodland study, but obviously focuses on the special flora and fauna of an upland blanket bog. 

Junior Certificate Ecology

Age Group:  1st, 2nd, 3rd & TY Years

Time of the Year: March to October only

This study involves:

  • Examining the variety of habitats in Glendalough.
  • Identifying and studying vertebrates, invertebrates and plants.
  • A frequency survey of the vegetation.
  • Examining adaptations, introduced and extinct species.
  • Looking at basic factors affecting ecology.
  • Exploring food chains and food webs.


Conservation Day

Age Group: Any age (Ideal for TY)

Time of the Year: Any

Our Conservation Day really brings the National Park alive for visiting students as they examine and discuss the conservation issues facing the National Park. The format of the day is as follows:

  • A treasure hunt featuring conservation issues
  • A hike up onto the hills overlooking Glendalough with a National Park Guide discussing conservation problems in the area.
  • A debate. Teams must argue why their assigned group should be allowed to carry out their chosen activity in the National Park.

TY Challenge

Age Group: Transition Year

Time of the Year: Any

Our popular TY Challenge has been designed to give Transition year students a flavour of several disciplines. The day includes:

  • A treasure hunt 
  • Bird watching - who can identify the 5 birds using keys and binoculars?
  • Orienteering - navigate a route using only a compass bearing and pacing
  • Clinometer challenge
  • Blindfold challenge
  • A nature quiz

TY Leave No Trace Day

Age Group: Transition Year

Time of the Year: Any

Leave No Trace is an outdoor ethics programme designed to promote responsible outdoor recreation. Unlike the old countryside code, it does not consist of rules but appeals to a person’s sense of right & wrong. The day includes:

  • A treasure Hunt
  • A walk with activities designed to introduce the seven principles of Leave No Trace - Plan ahead & prepare; Be considerate of others; Respect farm animals & wildlife; Travel & camp on durable surfaces; Leave what you find; Dispose of waste properly; Minimise the effects of fire. 
  • Quiz


Leaving Certificate River Study

Age Group: 5th & 6th Years 

Time of the Year: November to February only

Our fieldwork on the Lugduff Brook in Glendalough is designed to comply with the requirements of the Leaving Certificate. As such, it alters each season. Typical activities include:

  • Basic map work.
  • Field sketches.
  • Examining river features & processes (erosion and deposition).
  • Cross-section of the river and the valley.
  • Velocity & discharge.
  • Bedload analysis.
  • Examining transportation, including traction, solution & turbidity.

Leaving Certificate Glaciation Study

Age Group: 5th & 6th Years

Time of the Year: November to February only

The dramatic valley of Glendalough was carved out during the Ice Age, and contains many upland glacial features. Our study involves:

  • The geology of Glendalough.
  • An examination of glacial features on the map and in the field.
  • Erosion in a hanging valley.
  • The weight of an erratic and the distance travelled.
  • Exploring an alluvial fan.
  • Measuring a U shaped valley.
  • The Ice Age’s effect on Man’s use of the area.

Junior Certificate Geography Study

Age Group: 1st, 2nd & 3rd Years

Time of the Year: Any

This worksheet has been produced in several sections, thereby enabling teachers to ‘mix and match’ the sections that are relevant to their class. The sections are: 

  • About your visit
  • Map skills
  • Weather
  • Geology
  • Soils
  • Rivers
  • Glaciation
  • Settlement

Junior Certificate Human Geography Hike

Age Group: 1st, 2nd, 3rd & Transition Years

Time of the Year: Any

Suitable for both Junior Certificate and Transition Year students, this day involves a hike around Glendalough exploring how Man has shaped the landscape. Topics examined include:

  • The National Park
  • Tourism
  • Woodlands & forestry
  • The Monastic ruins
  • Hill walking & erosion
  • Feral goats
  • Mining
  • Settlement
  • Farming
  • Hydro-electric power