Forest Schools

Forest Schools

What is Forest Schools?

Forest Schools has developed from the Scandinavian education system and is about children and your people building self- esteem and independence through exploring and experiencing the natural world. Forest Schools is a long term programme delivered by trained practitioners within a natural environment (not necessarily in a Forest!). Each Forest School programme is tailored to meet the needs of individuals within that group and is continuously developed as the children/young people grow in confidence, skills and understanding. The ethos of Forest Schools allows children the time and space to develop skills, interests and understanding through practical, hands on experience. It also allows instructors/staff to step back and observe the children in order to then encourage and inspire individuals to achieve.

Where will my child be going?

We are very lucky here at Skilts because we have a woodland copse at the rear of the playing field which is a fantastic environmental resource for our pupils. The site has natural features such as trees, shrubs, sticks, logs, leaves and seeds and is safe. The site is thoroughly risk assessed and managed appropriately by trained staff

What will my child be doing?

The Forest School routine varies but will include preparing to go out by dressing in outdoor clothes such as waterproofs, walking to the copse, singing songs and sharing stories and experiences. The Forest School curriculum runs all year round and in all weathers (unless weather conditions are dangerous). The child led ethos of Forest Schools means that the children can choose what to participate in whilst being carefully supported and encouraged by trained staff. Possible activities may include:

  • Hunting for minibeasts and/or pond dipping
  • Natural crafts – making necklaces from elder crowns or dreamcatchers from willow, collages from natural materials, weaving with long grasses, tree cookies etc
  • Mud sculptures
  • Shelter building and knot tying
  • Tree climbing
  • Using tools for a purpose – such as peeling bark from sticks with potato peelers to make toasting forks
  • Fire building and cooking on a camp fire

Sessions are planned around the individual child’s and group’s needs and built upon each week. All Forest School Leaders are qualified through nationally recognised and accredited training which ensures that our Forest Schools is a high quality learning experience. The earlier sessions will concentrate on safety; establishing boundaries and routines. As the children develop in confidence and familiarity with the environment, the sessions focus on the development and consolidation of skills and understanding.

What benefits will my child get from participating in Forest Schools?

Forest Schools supports the holistic development of the child:

  • Health and fitness – being activte in an outdoor, natural environment
  • Increased emotional well-being
  • Social development – communicating and negotiating with peers and adults to solve problems and share experiences
  • Skills development – developing fine and gross motor skills and coordination for real purposes
  • Gaining knowledge and understanding – multi-sensory, real-life learning
  • Individualise learning – careful observation allows adults to tailor support to children’s own interests and stage of development Curriculum Links
  • Forest Schools supports many areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework, National Curriculum and the Every Child Matters agenda

Health and Safety The health and safety of everybody involved in Forest Schools is central to everything done within a Forest Schools programme. Forest School leaders are fully trained in risk assessment and emergency outdoor firest aid. For the Forest School we have in place a Health and Safety Policy, a seasonally and daily risk assessed site, risk assessments for activities; trained adult helpers; first aid and emergency equipment. Some of the activities the children may participate in are ‘higher-risk activities’ (such as campfire cooking or fool use). However these activities are not available to the children until certain behaviours and boundaries are established. Children are encouraged and supported in recognising and managing risk for themselves, through real life situations and experiences.

Click here to see our Forest Schools gallery