At Upton we firmly believe in the benefits of Forest School and children learning outside of the classroom. It gives children the opportunity to experience the natural environment and assess risk for themselves. It develops resilience, problem solving and self-confidence and allows children to use a different set of skills to those used within a classroom. It is often the children’s highlight of the week as it presents wow moments and creates memories. Forest School is an inspirational process that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. (Forest School Association)
There are six principles for Forest School and was first created by people in the Forest School community in 2002. It has since been reviewed and added to so we have the definition above, with the inclusion of all learners and a natural environment with trees.
1 – Forest School is a long term process with frequent and regular sessions in a local natural space, not a one-off visit. Planning, adaption, observations and reviewing are integral elements.
This means that it is expected that Forest School sessions are held on a regular basis across the four seasons so that children can have first hand experiences of all the changes that occur. It is best when done with the same group of learners in which the relationships can develop and trust formed. With all learning there must be progress, in Forest School this is achieved by close observations of the learners to identify their strengths and interests. From this next steps and opportunities can be planned for and original ideas can be adapted to suit the learner’s needs. Boundaries are established jointly and can be reviewed jointly as needed. It is useful learning for the children to be involved in their own assessments of risk.
2 – Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
Being outside in the woods or natural environment gives children space to explore and discover at their own pace and ability and follow their own interests. This is important in fostering positive relationships and respect between learners and the natural world. Children can develop these relationships by helping to manage and maintain the Forest School site, be involved in their own risk assessments, using natural materials in their ‘True Play’ through hands-on experiences.
3 – Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent learners.
Forest School gives children an opportunity for trial and error to solve a problem that they want to solve without being concerned with ‘What does the teacher want me to do?’ It develops all aspects of the learner and gives them the time and space to be themselves. Forest School also gives learners the opportunity to link experiences and apply these at whatever level they are at.
4 – Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and themselves.
It is well documented that children now are not having the same outdoor experiences as their parents and their independent experience of nature has been restricted due to the fear of something awful happening and the increase of technology. Forest School goes some way to giving learners the ‘everyday adventures’ because they are motivated by what they want to do whatever their attitude, ability or interest. Learners can be involved in the assessment of risk and how to reduce any risk. Giving learner’s opportunities for supported risks develop self- esteem, confidence and motivation. It also develops a level of trust that they are being allowed to use tools and be around fire. All activities and use of tools should be evaluated using the risk/benefit process, taking account of what is age appropriate and how much the learners will benefit. If the benefits out way the risk and any risk is assessed then it will become a wonderful learning opportunity.
5 – Forest School is run by qualified Forest School Practitioners who continuously develop their professional practise.
A Forest School session must be led by a qualified Forest School leader who has had all the appropriate training in order to keep learners, other adults and themselves safe and follow the Forest School pedagogy. This also means that they hold an up to date first aid certificate and any helpers have had all appropriate safeguarding checks to ensure they are suitable to be around children. There must be a high ratio of adults to children to ensure their safety especially if there is a fire or there are tools being used which move the focus of the leader into a 1:1 situation.
6 – Forest School uses a range of learner centred processes to create a community for development and learning.
This is probably the principle that is most different from all other types of outdoor learning. Outdoor learning still essentially is teacher led and has an outcome in mind. However Forest School has learners at the very core. It is a chance for learners to experience ‘true’ play. Learners can define their own agenda at Forest School where the leader and other adults tune in and respond sensitively to support and develop learning. Adults within Forest School should be role models through their actions, support, thinking aloud through a situation and by the words they use. Through clear and close observations of the learners Forest School leaders can carefully create opportunities (that may be used or may not) to move learning and development forward.
Forest School Sessions
For Information on how to contact us see below:
Upton Upon Severn CofE (VC) Primary and Pre-School
Phone: 01684 592259