“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 a Forest School?
Forest Schools have been developed from the Scandinavian education system and is about young people building self-esteem and independence through exploring and experiencing the natural world. Forest Schools is a long term programme delivered by trained 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/young people grow in confidence, skills and understanding.
The ethos of Forest Schools allows learners the time and space to develop skills, interests and understanding through practical, hands-on experiences. It also allows practitioners to step back and observe the young people in order to then encourage and inspire individuals to achieve through careful scaffolding and facilitating.
Sessions are planned around the individual’s and group’s needs, and built upon each week. All Forest School Leaders are qualified through nationally recognised and accredited training, therefore ensuring Forest Schools are a high quality learning experience. 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.
NCC (A Parent’s Guide to Forest School)
Forest School at Churchill Park takes place at Reffley wood, a beautiful ancient woodland teaming with flora and fauna. Learners get the opportunity to experience this natural environment all year round, whatever the weather!! The learners will learn and develop new skills such as, shelter building, using tools for a purpose, bush craft, natural art pieces, bug hunts, fire lighting and camp fire cooking, coppicing, outdoor health and safety, risk management, tree climbing, flora and fauna identification, knot and rope skills and much, much more.
Forest School is an excellent experience for our young people and those taking part already are really enjoying themselves and learning some valuable life skills as well as a respect for nature and the elements, self-reliance, self-esteem, problem solving, social communication, and resilience which will have a positive impact on their learning and life skills.
How does Forest School benefit my child?
Forest Schools supports the holistic development of the child:
- Health and fitness – Being active in an outdoor, natural environment.
- Increased emotional wellbeing – There is research available supporting this.
- Social development – Communicating, and negotiating with peers and adults to solve problems and share experiences.
- Skills development – Developing fine and gross motor skills and coordination for real purposes.
- 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, National Curriculum and the Every Child Matters agenda.
Quotes from our parents, pupils and teachers
“She has really found her confidence and has been communicating with much more ability since her time at Forest School”.
(Teaching Assistant, Year 9)
"It made me feel certain emotions and many things that I wouldn't have felt last year. Forest School has made me feel a lot more grown up because I was learning to express my self-esteem and my feelings by developing a social and mature mind, and how I am feeling right now I am not scared of growing up anymore because in the end I wanted to group and be a young adult."
(Learner Yr 11)
“I feel like a tiger in the Forest”
“Seems more willing to have a go at independent activities”
“She seems more confident and happy”
“There has been a marked change in learner confidence and a sense of responsibility to others”.
“It has a dramatically positive impact on social and emotional skills. Integration and working as team”.
Health and Safety
The health and safety of all participants is central to everything done within a Forest Schools programme. Forest School leaders are fully trained in risk assessment and emergency outdoor first aid. Every Forest School will have a Health and Safety policy, a seasonally and daily risk assessed site, risk assessments for activities, trained adult helpers, first aid and emergency equipment. Some of the activities the children may participate in are ‘higher-risk activities’ (such as campfire cooking or tool use). However, these activities are not available to the children until certain behaviours and boundaries are established. Children are encouraged and supported in recognising and managing risk for themselves, through real life situations and experiences.