In an education system that is predominately classroom based and focuses on the curriculum and results, Forest School provides an amazing opportunity to take learning outside. The individual can develop vital skills that are needed throughout life: resilience, communication and teamwork.
The most important aspect driving the Forest School experience is that it is fun and engaging for the learner. Once this is in place, Forest School can provide a platform for both children and adults to learn more about themselves, about each other and about the world we live in.
It is important to note that in Forest School sessions we are more concerned with the ideas of self-esteem and self-worth, with the aim of boosting a child’s emotional intelligence. We believe every individual can achieve what they want when they are provided with a safe, nurturing and engaging learning environment.
St Luke's Primary School aims to use its natural outdoor woodland area to offer the children an insight into the Forest School ethos. This approach to outdoor learning encourages children to become independent, use their imagination, take appropriate risks within boundaries and initiate learning for themselves. Forest School offers a holistic approach, incorporating children’s individuality and develops their skills for lifelong learning. Forest School explores the outdoors and the natural environment with practical, useful activities, building upon emotional and spiritual aspects of learning where self-esteem and self-confidence can grow and positive relationships with peers can be formed.
The school’s five universal aims of the Child Protection Policy are also key objectives in the Forest School ethos.
Be healthy: Forest School sessions offer the chance for children to become physically, mentally and emotionally healthier.
Make a positive contribution: Lessons include methods for developing positive relationships, self-confidence and a feeling of self-worth.
Enjoy and achieve: It is important that the child enjoys all Forest School sessions as high levels of engagement are key to learning.
Stay safe: Safety is paramount, sites used for Forest School sessions are within the school grounds and are checked before activities commence. Risk assessments for the site and activities are completed, there are separate policies for working with fires and tools.
Achieve economic well-being: Forest Schools aim to equip the children with the tools needed for adult life through increased communication, effectively working with peers and building up a feeling of independence.
Teaching and Learning
St Luke's School aims to provide the foundations to enable our children to achieve their full potential, spiritually, morally, academically, physically and socially and to become responsible young people. Forest School is another way of delivering these aims outside of the classroom setting as it provides a stimulating environment where children have access to greater resources and learning opportunities.
All Forest School sessions will be conducted in a safe and controlled environment where, in accordance with the school’s behavior policy, good behaviour is actively encouraged and reinforced, developing self-esteem and self-discipline. Clear rules and guidelines will be stated at the start of the session and each child must agree to follow them before the activities begin.
Environmental Considerations and Conservation
One of the principles of Forest School is to promote environmental awareness and encourage sustainability. The children are taught about respect and responsibility for the world around them. Both the children and adults are encouraged to respect their environment and to be aware of conservation issues of the woodland around them.
The aim is to promote respect for wildlife, which will be achieved through detailed session plans, evaluation and reference to our woodland management plan and ecological impact assessment.
If appropriate, reclaimed, recycled and sustainable resources will be used to maintain and develop our forest school site.
Health and Safety
It is extremely important that the children have fun and learn in a suitable environment that is safe to use. St Luke's Forest is the site for our Forest School. It is within the school grounds and it is not accessible to the general public. There will be risk assessments available for the site that we use, the activities, the use of fires and the use of tools. A Forest School Leader will carry out risk assessments at the beginning of each term which will take account of seasonal change. In addition a daily risk assessment will be undertaken before each forest school session.
Weather and general welfare
Children should bring in spare / old clothes when the teacher instructs the class. Jogging bottoms, long sleeved t-shirts or jumpers and a waterproof jacket are all advised. Forest School sessions still go ahead in cold and light rain so it is essential the children and adults are dressed appropriately. Children who do not have correct clothing may not be allowed to take part in activities. As previously said, sessions will continue if the weather allows and the Forest School leader will always visit the site the day of the session. Heavy rain, cold temperatures and strong winds may risk the child’s safety and in these conditions, Forest School would not go ahead.