“This is the best kind of classroom
Where the seasons don’t happen in books
Where the learning is watching and thinking and talking and everyone notices, everyone looks”
From the poem “The best kind of classroom” by Ian MacMillan
What is Forest School?
The Forest Schools concept was developed in Scandinavia in the 1950s. Bridgewater College in Somerset was the first educational establishment in the UK to adopt the Forest School ethos in 1995. Its ethos is to encourage practical, hands-on experience as well as building the self-esteem and independence of children and young people through exploring the outside environment.
Forest School sessions will be run in Great Milton C of E Primary School throughout the year in the natural environment which might not necessarily mean a forest! Forest School sessions are a mixture of learning new skills and exploring whilst playing in the outside environment. The sessions are planned to meet the needs of individuals to ensure that all children grow in self-confidence and understanding. It also allows staff to step back and observe the children in order to encourage and inspire them to achieve and learn.
Where and when will your child be taking part in Forest School?
Our Forest School sessions will take place on site. A dedicated area will be developed over the next three years referencing a sustainable management plan. The school has been thoroughly risk-assessed ensuring that current health & safety guidelines are being followed. All sessions will be led by our Forest School Leader, Mrs Nikki Howlett.
What will your child be doing?
Forest School will be run all year, in all weathers (unless conditions are considered a danger). The child-led ethos of Forest School means that once on site, the children can choose which activity they would like to do, carefully supported by the adults. Forest School activities may vary depending on the season and age of the children. They may include:
- Muddy faces (on trees, not children!), mud sculptures
- Minibeast hunts
- Climbing trees
- Den-building and knot tying
- Natural crafts (dream-catchers, wind chimes, weaving, collage)
- Using tools
Forest School sessions are planned around the individual’s and group’s needs and built upon each week. The first few sessions will concentrate on establishing boundaries and routine. The children have a big input here. Once the children have developed confidence, the sessions focus on developing skills.The sessions will give children time to share and reflect on their experiences.
The children may come home muddy even if its not been raining, so on the specified day, they will need to bring:
- Waterproof trousers and coat, even in summer
- Sunhat and sun cream (summer)
- Long-sleeved top and trousers
- Gloves & hat (winter/cold weather)
- Wellington boots
- Change of clothes
What benefits will my child get participating in Forest School?
Forest School supports the holistic development of the child through:
- Increased emotional well-being, self-confidence and reliance
- Health & fitness in the natural environment
- Social development – communicating and negotiating with children and adults to solve problems and share experiences
- Skills development – developing fine and gross motor skills and coordination for real purposes
- Knowledge and understanding – using all of the senses, problem-solving and real-life learning
- Individualised learning – careful observation allows adults to tailor support of children’s own interests and stages of development.
- Curriculum links – Forest School supports many areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework, National Curriculum and the Every Child Matters Agenda
Health & Safety
The health and safety of all children and adults is central to everything done within a Forest School session. The Forest School leader is trained in risk assessments and emergency outdoor first aid. Forest School follows all the school’s policies and does have additional policies including health & safety, seasonal, daily and activity risk assessments, first aid and emergency procedures. To see all the policies, procedures and risk assessments, please refer to the Forest School Handbook. The children may participate in higher risk activities, but these activities will only be made available to them once boundaries and routines are established. Children are encouraged and supported in recognising and managing risk for themselves, through real-life situations and experiences.
If you have any questions, please ask to speak to Mrs Howlett.