St Mary’s has its own Forest School – a superb outdoor learning area in our own woods. This is the ideal base for girls to explore their natural environment as part of structured regular sessions.
Forest School is part of the curriculum at St Mary’s Lower School. We encourage the girls to be outside in all weathers, so it is really important that the girls wear layers and are warm.
Kindergarten and Prep pupils have a Forest School session each week; girls in other year groups have one afternoon Forest School session for one term of the year.
As well as learning about the flora and fauna, the children take part in activities designed to help them to understand risk taking in a safe environment and to engage in physical outdoor play.
Forest School originated in Sweden in the 1950s when a retired solider started to teach children about the natural environment through stories, songs and practical hands on experiences. The First British Forest School was opened in 1995 and since then Forest School has been rapidly growing across the country.
Forest School tailors activities to children’s interests and needs. Each child works at his or her own pace, developing skills, overcoming difficulties and meeting challenges. This develops confidence and self-esteem – studies in Scandinavia and in the UK into the impact of Forest School sessions have concluded that children are happier, healthier and more sociable as a result.
Pre-school children who have had access to Forest School arrive at school with stronger social skills, a greater ability to work in groups, higher self-esteem and confidence in their own capabilities; solid foundations on which to build academic achievement.