Forest School & Outdoor Learning
Forest School adds a valuable dimension to our curriculum. We are fortunate to have a woodland environment on site and began Forest School learning back in 2014. We now have two fully qualified Forest School leaders on our staff. While it was initially intended as an intervention for children who would benefit from support for social, communication and teamwork skills, for the past five years Forest School has been extended and is now fully integrated into the curriculum for all pupils. This has been developed carefully over recent years so that we can work alongside badger sets!
Every class has at least two Forest School sessions a term. One focuses purely on Forest Skills; children are encouraged to take risks outside their comfort zone. They create fires, uses knives and tools and work as a team to solve problems in the natural environment. The other session is curriculum linked to support a specific area of study. As an example, a class studying the Anglo-Saxons would spend the day learning skills practised by their distant ancestors: weaving, wattle and daub building and baking bread on an open fire. Another class might use the session as stimulus for creative writing or an Art lesson while another, studying Judaism in RE, may build an outdoor Sukkah to develop their learning.
Our programme of learning is constantly evolving to create links across the curriculum: Y5 reenacts a scene from their Robin Hood study in English. In a Y2 History study, in DT pupils create buildings similar to those which burnt down in Pudding Lane. They then have an immersive day in the Forest School area where they set fire to one of the buildings and watch the whole street disappear!
In EYFS and KS1, the outdoor learning has had a huge impact on developing speech and language, team work and motor skills. All nursery and reception children have regular sessions designed to support their physical and social development.
Our confidence in the success and impact of our Forest School provision has enabled us to offer outreach to other local schools. In 2021, we established regular community sessions for pre-schoolers and toddlers: Saplings.
In 2022, with the support of a local horticultural firm, we have been able to reestablish a pond environment. As well, providing the perfect site for Forest School, the area allows pupils to experience a range of ecosystems and habitats. This feeds into our work as a Green Flag Eco school.