Forest Schools

What is Forest Schools?

Forest Schools is an approach which originated from Scandinavia. It is a unique educational experience which promotes many different skills and ideas such as raising self-esteem, health, wellbeing, confidence, emotional intelligence and team work. As well as promoting the use of the outdoors such as practical learning, discovering and finding out about the natural environment and its uses, physical activity and risk taking.

The children will take part in a variety of activities which not only promote the above but also gives the children hands on opportunities to develop their understanding of many topics such as den building, fire lighting and outdoor cooking, caring for the environment, safe use  of tools, coppicing, flora and fauna as well as using a child led approach to planning and learning so the children get the most out of their sessions.

Forest School is run whatever the weather (Unless extreme weather/wind is forecast). Each child will have their own wet suit to take part. We do ask parents to bring in waterproof shoes, gloves, hats, coats etc for the colder or wet weather. We believe the children should experience most weather types and will only be taken out if correct clothing/precautions have been taken to keep them safe and dry.

Principles of Forest School

There are six key Principles which are fundamental to the Forest school ethos and are used to ensure good Forest School practice. They are as follows:

Principle 1

Forest school is a long term process of frequent and regular sessions, ideally in a woodland or natural environment. Planning, assessing, observations and adaptation are all key parts of the Forest School process as this feeds back into the program and supports the children’s learning, ideas and development.

– Our Forest School sessions will take part weekly and will start with a hook for the children to explore and develop their understanding of the outdoor environment. Planning will then take place weekly and will be based on the children’s ideas and interests.

Principle 2

Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.

– Our Forest School sessions will take place in a small wooded area within our school grounds. As the site is new we will be working closely with the children to think about how we could improve/develop our area whilst maintaining and ensuring we have little ecological impact on the site itself. We aim to use natural resources within the site area that are sustainable and manageable.

Principle 3

Forest Schools offer learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.

– Our Forest School will promote the understanding of risks in a safe and manageable way so children feel they are able and willing to take the appropriate risks when they want or need to.

Principle 4

Forest Schools aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confidence, independent and creative learners

Our Forest School will aim to promote the physical, social, emotion, cognitive, spiritual and linguistic skills of the child.

Principle 5

Forest School is run by qualified Forest School Practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.

-Our Forest School will be run by Miss Withycombe who is due to receive her Forest School qualification level 3 in Oct 2018. She is outdoor emergency first aid trained and this handbook provides all the relevant policies and procedures to safely run a forest School session.

Principle 6

Forest School uses a range of learner centred processes to create a community for development and learning

– Our Forest School approach will consist of a play based approach using ideas from the children to support planning and resourcing of the area. The Forest School Leader will ensure all planning/resources are ready and up to date and support the children in developing their ideas.

Where it takes place

The Forest School area is situated on the playing field within the school grounds. It has a small wooded area with a variety of trees/shrubs for the children to explore and use. We aim for Forest Schools to take place on a weekly basis on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday afternoon in all weather conditions. The children will be provided with a full wet suit to take part in Forest Schools, but we kindly ask parents to bring wellingtons, hat, scarf, gloves and a coat if needed to ensure that Forest Schools is an enjoyable experience.  We also ask on hotter days that the children bring hats and sun cream if needed, water will be supplied by school.

What do we do there?

Forest School allows children to be a part of a variety of outdoor activities and encourages children to learn about the natural environment as well as developing key social and emotional skills. Some of the activities the children will be a part of are:

  • Den building
  • Use and practice of a variety of knots
  • Safe use of Fire lighting and cooking
  • The identification of plants and animals
  • Exploration of the natural world
  • How to look after the natural world
  • Use of sustainable resources within the Forest School
  • Safe use of tools to support learning
  • Different seasons/what happens in each season
  • Developing key social and emotional skills; e.g spiritual development, health and wellbeing
  • Playing in the outdoors
  • Taking risks in a safe way
  • Building relationships/supporting each other
  • Achieving manageable tasks individually and in a group

Routine in Forest School

Forest School will run on a weekly basis with our Foundation Stage classes. The children will be split into three groups of 20 and each group will have an afternoon a week to take part in Forest School activities within the Forest School site,

Each child will be required to dress themselves appropriately for the weather and all children will be required to wear a splash suit in the colder and wetter weather.

The children will arrive at the Forest School and sit in the benched or logged area so that learning for the session can be introduced. This learning can range from simple team building activities to den building or fire lighting (fire lighting is dependent on age and maturity of the children). The children will then have an opportunity to play in the Forest School area with one adult being a Learning Leader, while the other adult introduces and delivers an activity to a group of children. All children will have the opportunity to play and take part in a structured activity.

The children will be required to care and maintain the area with support, as well as ensuring they are maintaining and using equipment in a safe way. The children will also be encouraged to use a Wellie wash to ensure clothing is cleaned, dried and then stored correctly for use in the next session.