Forest School is delivered throughout the school year. You will receive a letter when your child is due to participate and the dates will be shared in advance. When Your child is scheduled to take part in Forest School we ask that they bring in clothes and footwear which is suitable for the weather. Waterproof trousers and wellies are recommended in the winter as the site becomes very muddy.
Forest school activities are child led but we do offer a range of springboard activities which are often inspired by the topics of each class.
Why does Dame Tipping Primary School use Forest School Approach?
We identified that although as a school we provided a good range of sports provision we were not providing opportunities for other outdoor activities. We therefore have decided to use the funding to support Physical Exercise through forest school.
Forest School is run once a week by a qualified professional who supports the children’s physical development and engagement with healthy lifestyles by providing opportunities for the children to test their own boundaries and physical capabilities while developing new skills.
The ethos of Forest School allows each session to support individual children’s needs which in turn gives them a sense of well-being and belonging which has led to children being more confident in having a go in class. The element of risk taking afforded by Forest School has meant that children are making healthier behaviour choices in the playground.
How and what do the children learn through forest school?
Forest school is a child led kinaesthetic learning experience. The Forest School Team at each session set up a range of activities which are linked to either the topic or a skill area that the class teacher has identified as needing work (such as negotiation, listening skills fine motor skills or management of energy levels) At the beginning of the session the activities are outlined and each child explores these activities throughout the session. The child determines the rate, direction, depth and breadth of their learning. Some activities will lead to unset tasks.
How does Forest School Link with the curriculum?
The activities at forest school are designed to complement the topic which the class is studying. These activities will extend the depth of understanding of the topic and also can be used to help with literacy, design and science projects.
How is science and nature taught at forest school?
We encourage exploration of the site at forest school and have many insect viewing areas. When using natural materials, we always talk about it origins and characteristics. The children are gradually learning the name of the plants up at forest school and their uses. They see the site a different times of the year and are getting an understanding of the effect of the seasons and their use on the environment. We also offer more formal activities which are nature or science specific.
How else does Forest school help my child?
The activities at forest school are design to improve the children’s resilience and self-confidence. The children are expected to have a go at everything and the adults will support them but not complete the task for them. We have seen a marked improvement in children’s ability to attempt an activity and articulate the kind of help they need rather than just saying “I can’t do this”. Team work skills are also developed as a number of the activities and tools require team work.
The children have learnt to listen carefully to instructions and now follow a wide range of complicated yet necessary protocols. They have developed an awareness of others needs and risk assessment skills.
The tool work we do helps with fine and gross motor skills which in turn supports handwriting. Even walking up to Forest School is starting to develop their awareness of other’s needs and their place in the community. Forest school has helped children work, learn and play with a wider range of children and shows the class teacher how they work in a different environment which can then be used to inspire and develop learning in the classroom.
Who staffs Forest School and how do they ensure our children are safe whilst taking part in challenging activities such as Fire Lighting and Tree Climbing?
All of our Forest School sessions are run by Wild Child Forest School. Mrs Woodpecker and Mrs Ladybird run the sessions and they are usually supported by class teachers and or LSA’s.
Before we undertake any new activity which requires new skills we have a tool talk or activity protocol which includes a demonstration of how and why we use the tool/activity and what we need to do to be safe. Every time we then use that tool or revisit that activity we recap the protocol. When we use tools such as bow saws or when we light fires this is done under close supervision to ensure the children’s safety. The Forest School leaders are fully qualified in Forest School First Aid.
How often do the children get to do Forest School?
Children in Reception, Year 1 and 2 attend on a rota basis throughout the year. Where possible KS2 children have the opportunity to attend in the summer term.
What can I do to support Forest School?
- Wood: If you are having any tree work done we always need wood for activities
- Tools: we are always looking for garden tools to help with our activities
- Equipment: We are looking to extend our activities by using ropes and Tarps if you have any camping or outdoors equipment you wish to donate.
- Time: we are always happy to train up new volunteers, more volunteers means a wider range of opportunities can be offered.
How does Forest School Support the Curriculum?
The Forest School ethos is to be individually child focussed which means each session is planned after the last to ensure the interests and discoveries of each session and each child can be supported in the next session.
Alongside the sessions are planned to increase the children’s understanding of the Forest Rules and their core skills.
Core skills gained by children have included:
- Understanding fire safety
- Fire lighting
- Tool Protocols and use including Use of secateurs and Bow saws (only some classes)
- Stick use and protocol
- Tree climbing skills
- Safety in the wood and looking after my team