We are lucky enough to have our own Forest School at Etching Hill which is looked after by Mrs Willows and Mrs Winfindale.
Forest School turns our local woodlands into an outdoor classroom and natural playground. Using our woodland environment for children to learn and play, the forest school provides practical hands-on activities to capture interest and stimulate learning, whatever the weather!
Active outdoor experiences and games encourage children to enjoy healthy outdoor play whilst increasing their understanding of the world around them and the impact we have upon it. All aspects of the curriculum can be explored outside. The sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors, the closeness to nature, the excitement most children feel, the wonder and curiosity all serve to enhance and stimulate learning. We find that children who may struggle in a classroom environment can thrive when they learn outdoors.
Where Is our Forest School Site?
Our Forest School is situated within the school boundaries at the bottom of the field. It can only be accessed through a gate which is padlocked unless a Forest School session is in progress.
What is Forest School?
Forest School in the UK has been adapted from a Scandinavian approach to learning. The original concept was established in Sweden in the 1950’s and spread to other Scandinavian and European countries. In the mid 1990’s a group of nursery nurse students and lecturers from
Bridgewater College, Somerset visited Denmark and were so inspired that they brought the concept back to the UK and started what is now recognised as ‘Forest School’.
Forest Schools is a unique way of building independence, self-esteem and a positive attitude towards learning in children and young people as they explore and experience the natural world for themselves. A combination of freedom and responsibility is beneficial to children with little confidence or challenging behaviour. Valuable life skills are learnt -communication, team work and responsibility. They learn perseverance, become aware of nature, plants, trees, life cycles, tools and their use, and also their listening skills are enhanced. Forest School is carried out in all weathers and it is a very enjoyable experience for children and the adults attending.
The children’s interests along with the varied natural resources in our site are used to stimulate creative thinking, problem solving and skill development, all in the guise of play.
Our Forest School Principles
1. Forest School is for all children and young people.
2. Forest School builds on a child’s innate motivation and positive attitude to learning, offering them the opportunities to take risks, make choices and initiate learning for themselves.
3. Forest School is organised and run by qualified Forest School leaders
4. Forest School maximises the learning potential of local woodland through a ten week program.
5. Forest School helps children to understand, appreciate and care for the natural environment.
What happens in a typical session?
Playtime - the children can choose to play a game of their choice; usually involving some kind of hide and seek.
Work time - some planned activity is then started with instructions being given on the outcomes expected and how to use any tools appropriately.
The activities can range from starting small fires, tool use to make an item from wood, helping to collect firewood, bug hunting, identification of plants and trees to litter picking and maintenance of Forest school.
Campfires are used to show the children how to cook certain foods on the fire, heating water for drinks (usually hot chocolate) and for warmth on very cold days.
Before drinks/snacks take place all children and adults MUST wash their hands for hygiene reasons.
After drink and a snack the children will either go back to the task they were doing or play a game to round off the session, if time allows.
At the end of the session the children are encouraged to say a ‘What Went Well’ and an ‘Even Better If’ statement which they are used to doing within their class settings. This aids consistency and shows that although Forest school is outside and lots of fun, they still need to assess their own learning.
Our sessions run for a maximum of two hours.