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Hormead C of E
First and Nursery School

"Love of Learning, Love of Life, Love of God"

Forest School

Our Forest School Journey so far...

Intent

Forest School is a unique method of outdoor learning. At Hormead First School, our aim is to inspire children to have a 'love of life itself' through positive outdoor experiences.  Our children will have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most importantly to use their initiative to solve problems and cooperate with others. Children will use full sized tools, play, learn boundaries of behaviour; both physical and social, establish and grow in confidence, self -esteem and become self-motivated.

 

Implementation

The Forest School learning environment provides opportunities for our children to develop self-esteem, self-confidence, to form positive relationships with others, to develop growing awareness of their emotional needs and the needs of other, to learn to cooperate and work with their peers and adults and to develop strategies in order to take risks within the boundaries of safety.

Forest School is about exploring and experiencing the natural world through practical activities. All children in every year group go to Forest school every Wednesday for one hour. They go out in all weathers, all year round, exploring the seasons and environmental changes. Appropriate clothing ie: welly boots and waterproofs will be worn. On days of high winds it will be considered unsafe to go to the woods and children will have a forest school activity indoors that day.

The children's interests along with the varied natural resources in our woodland are used to stimulate creative thinking, problem solving and skill development.

One of the principles of Forest School is to promote environmental awareness and encourage sustainability. The children are taught about respect and responsibility for the world around them. Both the children and adults are encouraged to respect their environment and to be aware of conservation issues of the wild area around them. 

Encouraging children to care for the environment is an essential part of Forest School. In order to encourage the children to look after the site, we will always leave it tidy and never damage anything growing in it. We will only collect things that are on the ground and leave the area as we found it when we leave it. The Forest School leader will monitor the site so that it does not become overused.

 

Impact

The success of Forest School will allow children to:

  • Grow in confidence as a result of the freedom, time and space they are given in their learning. This allows them to demonstrate independence at each individual child's rate.
  • learn to share and work together as a team, which strengthens their bonds and develops their social skills.
  • improve their language and communication skills which will have a positive impact of their self-esteem and is a crucial part of their development. 
  • improve their levels of concentration and attention. Time spent in the woodland is exciting and develops a strong will to participate and concentrate over long periods of time.
  • increase their physical development in fitness and stamina, and improve gross and fine motor skills.
  • develop an interest in the great outdoors and respect for the environment. Encouraging children to develop a relationship with the natural world will help in protecting the environment for generations to come.

Forest School isn't just beneficial to children, it is also beneficial to teachers. Observing their class in a different setting allows them to gain a new perspective and understanding of their class.

When children really engage with Forest School, they take with experiences home to share with friends and family. This will often encourage families to visit their local woodlands more frequently.

Taking children outside of their classroom removes the pressures of academia and allows them to play to their strengths. This is beneficial to children who struggle in the classroom because there is more of an opportunity for them to learn at their own pace.

 

Teaching and Learning

Forest School has no set of prescribed activities. Nearly any type of outdoor learning activity could be undertaken as part of our Forest School process. It is the ethos in how the activities are delivered that make it part of Forest School.

Within Forest School:

  • The Forest School leader will observe the children carefully in order to plan for the next steps.
  • The Forest School leader will introduce relevant skills, knowledge and resources based on what the children are interested in and need to develop.
  • The Forest School leader will set up what the children are to achieve by breaking tasks into small achievable chunks.
  • Tasks are open - no right or wrong way of doing things (exceptions to this are health and safety procedures).
  • The types of outdoor activities children undertake in Forest School may include the following, and countless more, dependent of the learner's age, stage of development and interests: 
    • Field studies - minibeast hunts, tree identification, bird watching, life cycle games.
    • Sensory activities - games to do with colour, smell, sound, touch and sight, including blindfold games.
    • Bush craft - shelter building, knot use, fire lighting and cooking, cordage making, wild foods, whittling.
    • Woodland crafts - willow crafts, natural jewellery, weaving, natural dyes, traditional crafts.
    • Teambuilding and trust games - blindfold games, circle games, problem solving activities, team games.
    • Wildlife conservation - tree planting, nest box construction, coppicing, fence/path building.
    • Imaginative activities - story telling, drama, role play, songs.
    • Physical play - tree climbing, balancing, log dragging, digging.
    • Construction - shelter building, rope swings, tree houses, pulleys.

 

Organisation, Planning and Resources

It is the responsibility of the Forest School leader to organise and plan all session in the forest with the support of the class teacher and teaching assistant. All resources are kept in our Forest School  classroom and it is the responsibility of the Forest School leader to ensure these are kept in clean, secure working order.

 

Equal Opportunities

We actively promote the inclusion of all children and adults into Forest School sessions, and we endeavour to ensure that the opportunities for learning, development and participation are available to everyone, irrespective of race, gender, ability, religion, sexual orientation or age.

 

Inclusion

We aim to and are committed to:

  • providing a secure environment in which children can flourish and in which all contributions are valued;
  • include and value the contribution of all children and adults to our understanding of equality and diversity;
  • make inclusion a thread which runs through all of the activities of Forest School.

 

Role of the Subject Leader

The Forest School Leader is a trained Level 3 Forest School Practitioner. The leader is responsible for organising the planning and running of all Forest School sessions. The Forest School leader has the safety of the children uppermost at all times.

The leader will carry out a detailed safety check before each session and comply with health and safety risk assessments. The leader will ensure that all documentation is relevant and up to date. They are responsible for all equipment and will ensure that it is checked before use and returned to the resource area after use.

The Forest School leader will keep an accident book and keep parents informed of any incidents that may occur during a session. e.g. trips, falls, stings etc.

Forest School Progression of Skills

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