Bishop Ian Ramsey Church of England Primary School

Forest School

 

‘Forest School is an inspirational process that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees’.
(Forest School Association)

 

What is Forest School?

 

A Forest School is an innovative educational approach to outdoor play and learning, a classroom without walls.

The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences. Children will be encouraged to discover, explore, observe and question what they find in the woods. Sessions are child led, but may have a theme which can be linked to the National Curriculum.

Forest Schools will aim to develop:

  • Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation
  • Empathy with others
  • Good social communication skills
  • Independence skills
  • A positive mental attitude
  • Establish and grow in self confidence
  • Learn boundaries of behaviour
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • An opportunity for each child to reach their full potential

 

Our Forest School Site

 

We are exceptionally lucky at Bishop Ian Ramsey Primary School to have such a beautiful natural site. Within our school site there is a variety of flora and fauna. The children love to observe the natural changes to the environment.

 

 

 What will we do at Forest School?

 

… play, make and build dens, explore tracks, lay trails, cook marshmallows on a fire, create art, climb, pond dipping, develop an understanding of the properties of earth, wood, clay, water and stone, find wildlife, understand eco-systems, explore with their senses, use simple hand tools to make wooden objects, join in games, share hot chocolate, biscuits, fruit, stories and songs, spend time with friends, peers and adults, ………………….. in all weathers and in all seasons.

The only weather types which would lead to the cancellation of a session would be high winds and electrical storms.

“There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”

 

 

 

Forest Schools: Intent, Implementation, Impact

 

At Bishop Ian Ramsey Primary School, Forest Schools provides a nurturing space that supports our children’s wellbeing by providing and implementing positive, outdoor, child centred experiences in a natural setting.

Our provision is in a secure woodland and fielded area at the back of the school. These sessions provide children with the time to experience their environment and be fully emerged within their learning. Level three trained Forest School providers lead Forest School sessions across a variety of age ranges and children’s skills are developed as they progress through the school. Children develop practical skills such as knot tying, fire lighting and the safe, responsible use of tools.  All staff are however trained to level 1.

Children are active, take ownership of their learning and develop their self-esteem through a variety of independent tasks they take ownership of. Children develop knowledge of sustainability and respect for their learning environment and the outdoors as a whole. Children develop their teamwork skills and increase their capability to work together to solve problems in a variety of ways, taking into account one another’s ideas. Positive relationships are built through these sessions and children are both enabled and empowered to achieve their holistic potential.

As outdoor learning is a holistic approach, we aim to develop the whole child, research showing that children can benefit in a multitude of ways:

  • Emotional development- Time to reflect is an important part of all Forest School sessions and helps children to expand their emotional vocabulary and understand how they feel.
  • Spiritual development-Having a sense of belonging to the wider world, being part of something bigger than yourself, and your connection to nature, linking to our school value of responsibility.
  • Intellectual development-Our aim is to equip children with knowledge about the natural environment and develop their desire to look after the world they live in, linking to our school value of respect.
  • Social development-Through shared experiences and goals, children build up social interactions and relationships, choosing whether to work together as a team or independently, linking to our school value of collaboration.
  • Physical development-Both fine motor skills and gross motor skills are developed in the outdoor environment, as well as stamina and positive experiences, linking to our school value of resilience.
  • Communication and language development-Working together encourages communication and develops skilful expression of thoughts and ideas, as well as the ability to listen to others. Reflection activities increase a child’s ability to understand and describe their internal state, wants and needs, linking to our school value of Belonging.

Children with learning difficulties including autism, behavioural difficulties, speech and language difficulties and problems with hearing and vision all benefit from Forest School. Children with SEN tend to respond well because of the multi-sensory and enabling environment of Forest School, where children can explore and take supported risks. Particular benefits include gaining more independence, reducing anxiety and creating a sense of belonging.

The benefits of Forest School for all children are:

Building Confidence

Forest School helps 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 level.

Developing Social skills
Activities such as sharing tools and participating in play help teach the children to work together as a group, which strengthens their bonds, social ties and builds good relationships.

Learning to Communicate
The sensory experiences provided in Forest School helps prompt language development. Improving communication skills has a positive effect on a child’s self-esteem and is a crucial part of their development.

Encouraging Motivation and Concentration
High levels of interest lead to high levels of attention and engagement. Spending time in the outdoor environment is exciting for a child. It stimulates their curiosity and helps them to develop a strong will to participate and concentrate over longer periods of time.

Practising Physical Skills
The increase in outdoor activity has a positive physical impact. Not only does the development of physical stamina improve but also gross and fine motor skills too.

Acquiring Knowledge and Understanding
Children 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 future generations.

New Perspectives
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 children.

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

Access For All
Taking children outside of the classroom removes the pressures of academic achievement and allows them to play to their strengths. Forest School allows those children who struggle in the classroom the opportunity to be successful and to learn at their own pace.

Having Fun!
Most of all Forest School is fun!

 

How will my child benefit from Forest School?

 

Through the Forest School ethos we aim to provide children with opportunities to take measured risks, learn more about themselves and their relationships with others. Under the guidance of a fully qualified Forest School Leader we aim for all children to experience nature in a hands on, safe secure and supported environment. Activities are carefully planned to provide small achievable tasks so that no child will fail thus helping to raise self-esteem and confidence in every child. Children learn how to work with and react to the natural environment.

 

Will my child be safe?


The short answer is yes, each Forest School session is fully risk assessed. There will always be at least 1 fully qualified Forest School leader at each session. Forest School sessions take place on school grounds which are completely secure. Children will learn to manage their own risks and work within their personal physical and mental limitations.

 

Who will organise and run the Forest School sessions?


Sessions will be planned and run by our fully qualified Forest School leader: Miss Milner. All curriculum areas can be taught within the Forest School with some being taught through a range of adventurous activities: cooking on an open fire, shelter building, using hand tools and much, much more.

 

Bishop Ian Ramsey CE Primary School is part of the Durham Diocesan MAT. Durham Diocesan MAT is a company limited by guarantee (company number 10847279) and exempt charity registered in England and Wales at Cuthbert House, Stonebridge, Durham, DH1 3RY.