St Mary’s Lower School are offering free Forest School sessions in the woodland site at St Mary’s Lower School, Copford. The sessions will be run by a qualified Forest School Practitioner and are for small groups of children (up to 15) of Primary School age. Ideally each group will have more than one session. Visiting schools will need to bring any food items they wish to cook on the campfire with them at their own cost. There may be an opportunity for minibus transport to be arranged.
Forest school is an inspirational process that offers children regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a local woodland environment. Forest school has a learner-led approach and aims to promote the holistic development of those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
Forest school aims to create a community for well-being, development and learning. Learners are offered opportunities to take supported, appropriate risks and to develop a relationship between themselves and the natural world.
(from the Forest School Association. More information can be found here: https://forestschoolassociation.org/)
Activities might include bug hunting, tree climbing, mud kitchen, balancing on a rope walk, using a rope swing or zip-wire, den building, learning knots, whittling sticks, using tools to cut wood, natural crafts, learning about native flora and fauna, fire lighting and cooking on the camp fire.
Each session begins and ends with time together at the log circle. This is when children are encouraged to discuss a topic, take part in a mindfulness or relaxation activity, ask or answer questions and appreciate the natural world. The log circle at the end of the session allows for children to reflect on and celebrate their successes and make plans for next time.
Please note, owing to the the site being in a natural woodland environment, it may not be accessible for all users. Accessibility would need to be discussed on a case by case basis. A site visit from school staff would be advised.
The learning at Forest School sessions is led by the learners and children take ownership of their learning. Learners enjoy the opportunity to direct themselves and the choice to follow their interests.
Activities can be planned and offered which may cover certain curriculum areas but it is up to the child whether they choose this activity or something else. Forest School lends itself well to covering Character Education (from the DfE Character Education Framework Guidance) and many elements of the PSHE curriculum.
As children move through a block of sessions they realise that they can follow their own interests, so long as they protect themselves, others and the natural environment. Children begin to understand that their views and interests are valued and equal to those of others. This means learners are highly motivated and more willing to persevere.
Learners are encouraged to take supported, appropriate risks and achieve success in their chosen activity. In turn, self-esteem, independence and confidence grow as learners recognise that they are viewed as competent to explore and discover. The focus is always about the process not the end product and with low-stakes, self-chosen activities this means children grow in resilience and the ability to bounce back from difficulties.
Forest School emphasises the holistic development of the learner and how they view themselves and their part in the world is developed. Children have opportunities to develop positive relationships with themselves, others and the natural world and these are celebrated and reflected on. Issues, decisions and problems are often tackled as a whole group with everyone having an equal say in how to respond and solve the problem.