Forest School and Environmental Education

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 local woodland or natural environment with trees. Forest School is a specialised approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland learning.

Forest School Association (FSA)

Brief History:

Forest School is a concept that has been developed from the Scandinavian approach to learning, where children from the age of 3-7 attend Early Years Education called måbørnspædagogik, or Forest School. In 1993 a group of Nursery Nurse Students and professionals from Bridgewater College, Somerset visited Denmark to observe Danish Forest School for themselves. What they discovered was so inspiring and innovative that they brought the concept back to Britain and set up the first British Forest School. They developed the first Forest School BTech in 1995. Since then the movement has grown from strength to strength. In 2003 the OCN qualifications were developed with the support of the Forestry Commission. The Forestry Commission also formed the Forest Education Initiative, of which Forest Schools became a major contributor. In 2012 the Forest Schools Association held it’s inaugural meeting, under the umbrella of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, and aims to become a professional body to ensure consistent high standards across the country.

More information: History of Forest School – Forest School Association

The Concept:

The Forest School concept is a holistic way of learning. It has been defined by Forest School England as

“…an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults, regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem, through hands-on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.”

In Forest School children get the chance to play, explore and discover. The sessions are all about exploration of our surroundings. Teachers and Teaching Assistants can be as involved as they like. It may be a rare opportunity to simply take a step back and enjoy watching the children in a natural setting. Forest School can and is delivered alongside the conventional education methods to provide children with the ability to transfer their skills they learn into everyday life. The focus is on reconnecting (or in some cases ‘connecting’) children with their local outdoor environment, giving them the space and freedom to discover, play, explore and learn within a natural, outdoor setting. Forest School has and is being used with children of all ages; both mainstream and with children with specific emotional and behavioural needs, with fantastic results. Children that are known not to concentrate well in class are coming to Forest School and excelling in practical, hands-on tasks which engage them. Improved social skills, greater peer interaction, stronger relationships and better problem solving abilities are all benefits attributed to Forest School attendees. No child can fail at Forest School; they all manage to take something positive from the experience.

The Forest School Association website has a lot of information, and links to some really nice articles about the history of Forest School and the history of outdoor type education in the UK.

http://www.forestschoolassociation.org/

Good practice resource – Developing children’s learning through work in the natural environment

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/good-practice-resource-developing-childrens-learning-through-work-natural-environment

Good practice resource – The forest school: a thrilling and inspiring environment for pre school children

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/good-practice-resource-forest-school-thrilling-and-inspiring-environment-for-pre-school-children

Good practice resource – Making the most of the local natural environment to support all round development of young children

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/good-practice-resource-making-most-of-local-natural-environment-support-all-round-development-of-you

MEET OUR SUBJECT LEADER

Miss Dornan is our Forest School Leader. She is passionate about working in the outdoors and teaching the children to appreciate nature and their surroundings. You will regularly see her in her big coat and boots leading the children though our forest.

CPD

Miss Dornan has recently attended her level 3 Forest School Training and First Aid for working in the outdoors.

The children and staff have all taken part in an Introduction to Bee Keeping from Chorley Bee Centre.

CLUBS

Our outdoor education clubs include;

  • Eco Warriors
  • Forest School
  • Bee Keeping
  • Gardening Club

How Forest School is Organised.

The children are on a 3 year cycle in order to experience Forest School in each season.

Autumn

Spring

Summer

Annual timetable

Year 1 and 4

Year 2 and 5

Year 3 and 6

  • The children work with Miss Dornan in a group of 15 for half a term and then swap with their class mates. That is their forest school time completed for that academic year.
  • The children not on Forest School will be doing science for 6 weeks with their teacher. This science topic is an animals/plants /habitats unit.
  • An additional adult will also accompany Miss Dornan at each Forest School session.
  • Children are asked to bring old clothes for when they have forest school and get changed at lunchtime.

A Typical Unit of Work

Week 1 To know the safety rules and procedures for forest school The children will be taught how to stay safe in Forest school ( movement, tools , fires team work etc), play games to learn about the different areas and learn the rules of Forest School
Week 2 To know which tools will be used in Forest School Children introduced to various tools e.g.potato peelers, bush knives etc.

Children taught the rules of how to use them and given 1:1 support where appropriate depending on tools.

Week 4 To learn how to build a shelter Children introduced to shelter building and why we need shelter outdoors. Use the shelter to sit under , read, eat share hot drinks
Week 3 To learn how to build, create and sustain a fire Children introduced to fire building. They will be taught how to collect kindling, firewood, start the fire and cook on the fire.
Week 5 To apply their skills to own projects Children recap their skills from previous weeks and apply to own ideas. Children produce art / design pieces such as photo frames, ladders etc
Week 6 To apply their skills to own projects Children recap their skills from previous weeks and apply to own ideas. Children produce art / design pieces such as photo frames, ladders etc
Week 7 To use drama in nature Use elements of forest school to role play, dramatise , story tell .