This is the best kind of classroom, it’s a journey through time and space, from the smallest seed to the largest tree, this is a Forest and a learning place.
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 best Kind of Classroom’ by Ian MacMillan
What is Forest School?
Forest School has developed from the Scandinavian education system and is about children and young people building self-esteem and independence through exploring and experiencing the natural world.
Forest School is a long-term programme delivered by practitioners within a natural environment. Each Forest School programme is tailored to meet the needs of individuals within that group and is continuously developed as the children grow in confidence, skills and understanding. The ethos of Forest Schools allows learners the time and space to develop skills, interest and understanding through practical, hands on experiences. It also allows practitioners to step back and observe the children in order to then encourage and inspire individuals to achieve through careful scaffolding and facilitating.
Forest School Green Rules
Our whole school 'Golden Rules' apply at all times.
We also have a set of ‘Green Rules’ specifically for following whilst in the forest!
- When we hear a call back we stop what we are doing immediately and safely, and return to the meeting point.
- When using tools we follow the Safety Rules our teacher has given us.
- We walk slowly and sensibly when carrying tools, sticks and equipment.
- When we are around the fire pit, we stay sitting down unless told otherwise and we never walk across the fire circle.
- We only use pit or lighting equipment when we are told to do so.
- In the event of an injury or emergency, we locate an adult immediately.
- We are trusted to be safe and responsible and always look out for our own and our friend's safety.
What benefits will my child get from participating in Forest Schools?
- Health and fitness - Being active in an outdoor, natural environment
- Increased emotional wellbeing.
- Social development - Communicating, and negotiating with peers and adults to solve problems and share experiences.
- Skills development - Developing fine and gross motor skills and co-ordination.
- Gaining knowledge and understanding - Multi-sensory, real-life learning
- Individualised learning - Careful observation allows adults to tailor support to children's own interests and stage of development.
- Curriculum Links - Forest Schools supports many areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework and National Curriculum.
Where will my child be going?
Every Forest School is different, some are within school or nursery grounds and some are in woodland areas in nature reserves or private estates. The children at St Thomas’ will primarily use the school field and small wooded area running alongside it. All sites have an abundance of natural features. Flora and fauna such as trees, leaves, sticks, wood and a wide variety of wildlife. The school site is safe; it has been thoroughly risk assessed and managed appropriately by practitioners.
What will my child be doing?
The Forest School routine varies each week depending on the focus, however sessions begin with: preparing to go out by dressing in appropriate outdoor clothes such as waterproofs and wellington boots, singing songs, circle time games and sharing stories.
Possible activities also include:
- Hunting for mini-beasts and/or pond dipping
- Natural crafts
- Mud Sculptures
- Shelter / Den building and knot tying
- Fire lighting and cooking
- Using tools for a purpose such as: hacksaws, loppers, hammers and hand-drills.
The earlier sessions will concentrate on safety; establishing boundaries and routines. As the children develop in confidence and familiarity with the environment, the sessions focus on the development and consolidation of skills and understanding.
What happens if it rains?
Forest School will run all year round, with each class attending for one term, in all weathers (unless dangerous). The session planned will take account of the weather conditions and how long the children should be outside for.
If the weather is hot, it is important your child wears suncream, a hat and has a water bottle at school. Equally in wet or cold weather it is important that your child has warm and waterproof clothing as well as appropriate footwear.Clothing will become dirty and there is potential for clothing to become damaged – please ensure that children are wearing old or replaceable clothing.
How long does each Forest School session last?
This term our Forest School session will take place every Wednesday afternoon for x hours. We take the children outside in whole class groups, however we may split into smaller groups according to the particular activities.
What will my child need?
We require each child to have a set of waterproof trousers and waterproof jacket preferably with a hood that can be kept in school for the duration of the term in a named bag along with a pair of wellington boots. Alternatively, you may wish to provide your child with a waterproof all-in-one. Please ensure the children have a spare pair of socks to change into. For milder weather the children will also need jogging bottoms or shorts and a t-shirt or a jumper.
Forest School Health and Safety
The health and safety of all participants is central to everything within a Forest School programme. Forest School leaders are trained in risk assessment and emergency first aid. Every Forest School will have; a Health and Safety policy; a seasonally and risk assessed site; risk assessments for activities adult helpers; first aid and emergency equipment. However, children are actively encourage and supported in recognising and managing risk for themselves, through real life situations and experiences. The children have all read, discussed and agreed to our “Green Rules” code of conduct for Forest School activities.
Should you have any further questions regarding Forest School please do not hesitate to contact me.
Forest School Leader