Forest School at St Werburgh's
Over the course of 2020, we have been busy developing our new Forest School site within our own school grounds. Below you will find lots of information about what our Forest School entails and you can find out how you can help support the work we are doing both now and in the future.
The Forest School Ethos
Forest School is a unique educational experience and process that offers children the opportunity to succeed and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or other natural environment.
The Forest School concept originated in Scandinavia and was originally aimed at pre-school children. It was found that children who had attended Forest School seemed to benefit in many ways. They arrived at school with strong social and communication skills, had the ability to work in groups effectively, displayed high self-esteem and generally showed confidence in their own abilities.
Since being adopted in the United Kingdom the approach has been used to deliver learning programmes to groups from pre-school age to young adults and across all abilities. Research has shown that the benefits identified in the original Forest Schools appear to benefit learners at all levels.
Forest School at St. Werburgh’s provides opportunities for and encourages children to:
- develop their personal and social skills
- develop their language and communication skills
- improve physical motor skills
- work through practical problems and challenges
- develop practical skills
- use tools to create, build or manage
- pursue knowledge that interests them
- build confidence in decision making
- evaluate risk
- explore connections between humans, wildlife and the earth
- reflect on learning and experiences
- regularly experience achievement and success
- learn how to manage failures
- discover how they learn best
- improve their concentration skills
- become more motivated
- understand the benefits of a balanced and healthy lifestyle
The ethos of Forest Schools and the opportunities it provides fit well with the aims of St Werburgh’s as outlined in the school mission statement. To fulfil our mission statement, we help children to:
- Become social beings who are moral in their actions, responsible for their decisions and understanding towards others
- Develop self-respect, to be capable of making balanced and reasoned judgments and to be able to work independently or co-operatively with drive, determination and motivation
- Develop qualities of mind, body and spirit, feeling and imagination, so their lives become more purposeful, pleasurable and rewarding. In order to lead healthy lives and enjoy lifelong learning
- Feel safe and be part of a happy caring community of learners
- Develop understanding of and respect for a wide range of religious values, languages and cultural traditions and different ways of life
- Acquire the skills and knowledge needed to achieve their full potential in a rapidly changing world regardless of their race, gender or disability
- Be part of a community that is welcoming and where there is positive parental and community involvement
Forest School at St. Werburgh’s
At St Werburgh’s, Forest School sessions generally take place within the school grounds. The area is fully fenced and includes a small area of mature woodland, new woodland planting, grassland, a camp fire area and two further teaching spaces.
Forest School sessions are currently being developed and run by class teachers and are supported by Mr Coaker who is in the process of completing the Level 3 Forest School Practitioner course.
What do the children do?
Children taking part in Forest School sessions are given an opportunity to participate in activities in a natural setting on a regular basis. The setting provides a safe environment for them to learn and explore. Activities take place throughout the year and in generally in all weathers.
Whilst the sessions may provide opportunities to learn and understand more about the natural world, they also provide opportunities to develop their interpersonal skills.
There are opportunities to learn practical skills that there is often little opportunity to learn in formal school settings or even in the home these days. For tasks such as tool use, fire lighting or cooking there might be an element of managed risk. However by giving children these opportunities they ultimately become better equipped to manage risk and as a result have the opportunity to grow their self confidence.
Opportunities for reflection and to share experiences are provided and these help with the social and emotional development of participants.
Activities for Forest School are diverse and numerous but we are trying to create independent learners who are inspired to try out their own ideas, explore their own interests and to attempt new ideas.
The following will give some indication of the type of activities that might be undertaken:
- Den and shelter building
- Fire lighting
- Tool use
- Wildlife studies
- Habitat development
- Playing team and group games
- Sensory activities
- Tracking games
- Cooking on an open fire
- Rope and string work
- Art and sculpture work
- Woodland and traditional crafts
- Story telling
- Imaginary characters
- Physical movement activities
As can be seen the approach is cross curricular with activities for every subject area included at some point.