“Forest Schools, is an inspirational process, that offers children and young people opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem, through hands on learning experiences in a local woodland environment” (definition by ‘Forest Schools England’)
As a school we feel it is important to allow the children to explore the natural world around them and to provide as many opportunities to take the learning outdoors. ‘Forest Schools’ offers children the opportunity to learn through exploration and investigation of the natural environment. It is one approach to Outdoor Learning in which we emphasise the importance of the learning process without the worry of a specified outcome. It allows children to learn at their own pace and develop an understanding and respect for nature and the world. Children are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning whilst outdoors and they are encouraged to make their own decisions. Throughout this process it is hoped that the children will build up self-esteem and confidence and develop new relationships with the people around them.
We began delivering ‘Forest School’ sessions in 2011. As a school we are lucky enough to have access to lots of outdoor space including a developing woodland area located on our school grounds. In addition we are fortunate to have an amphitheatre near the woodlands and this has been used for music festivals and gladiator fighting. We have a variety of nest boxes located throughout the school grounds. All of this combined allows us the freedom to take learning, in any year group to the outdoors throughout the year! Our Forest School sessions are proving valuable for each and every individual child and are becoming a valuable element of school life. In the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, activities have included: travelling on our boundary bus, discussing fire safety, holding campfire sessions where we have enjoyed hot chocolate and snack, reading stories, being involved in imaginary role play, hunting for mini-beasts, looking closely at some wild birds, building dens through close team work and negotiation, climbing trees, making a mini beast hotel and even catching a glimpse of the Gruffalo!