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Clandon C of E School

Clandon C of E School A caring community where all can THRIVE

    Forest School

    What is Forest School?

    Forest School is very different to the traditional teaching practices seen in most schools around the UK.  It is a child-led approach to learning that originated in Denmark.  It is, in essence, an inspiring, fun and unhurried educational experience which takes places in a natural outdoor environment.

    Forest school is a long-term programme allowing children to have regular contact with the natural world in almost all weathers.  The same basic structure can be followed for each session to allow all children, including those with sensory and processing needs, to feel calm, relaxed and ready to try new activities.

    During Forest School sessions, children are encouraged to become independent learners, following their own lines of enquiry and exploring through play.  The sessions offer opportunities to take part in practical activities which build upon the children's abilities, interests and confidence.  They support the curriculum and give a strong emphasis on raising children's self-esteem and independence.  These activities can include:

    • Woodwork using tools
    • Shelter building
    • Fire lighting and cooking on the fire
    • Tree investigations
    • Climbing and balancing including tree climbing
    • Collecting, identifying and sorting materials
    • Using knots and lashings
    • Bug hunts and habitat creation
    • Identifying birds and other fauna
    • Team games

    Trained adults support as observers and facilitators rather than as leaders and directors.  Children are encouraged to engage in physical play including tree climbing, moving loose parts and the use of tools.  They are involved in risk assessing activities at the start of the session and encouraged to think about risks of self-initiated activities as they occur, balancing the potential risks against the benefits of an activity.

    Through Forest School we also aim to teach the children about caring for the environment in a variety of ways and children will be encouraged to minimise their impact on the site.  We aim to balance the benefits the outdoor environment provides by actively caring for it.

    Why Forest School?

    The main aim of Forest Schools is to increase confidence and self-esteem.  The children will also develop a progression of practical skills and knowledge, which can be used to support and enhance their classroom learning.

    This is all achieved holistically through playing.  All children need to play as it is a fundamental part of development; socially, biologically and emotionally.  Play is freely chosen and intrinsically motivated.

    During Forest School sessions, children can play independently whilst overcoming simple and achievable goals.  Children are able to take calculated risks in a controlled environment.

    Case studies looking at the benefits of Forest Schools for 3-17 year olds have shown children develop increased confidence in all areas.  They reported increases in children's intrinsic motivation and improved social skills.  There were also many positive health benefits, both physical and mental, and a greater appreciation of the natural environment.

    Every child WILL succeed in a Forest School session because:

    • There are no success criteria;
    • There is freedom of choice;
    • Tasks and activites are collaborative; and
    • Children are developing practical skills.

    Safety and Behaviour

    • Thorough risk assessments have been completed for all aspects of Forest School.
    • Appropriate clothing must be worn.
    • School behaviour policy remains unchanged.
    • Boundaries and rules for the session are agreed with children and regularly reiterated.
    • Missing a Forest School session will not be used as a consequence for bad behaviour in class.

    Forest School Clothing

    To allow pupils to participate fully, the correct clothing is essential and needs to be appropriate for all weather conditions, such as:

    • Wellingtons, sturdy walking boots or trainers
    • Long trousers and long sleeved top
    • Jumper or sweatshirt
    • Waterproof coat and trousers
    • Hat, gloves and thick socks in autumn/winter months
    • Sun hat and sun cream in summer.  NO SHORTS PLEASE