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Forest School

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Catherine Hunter leads our whole-school Forest School provision at Fountains Primary School. She is outside in all weathers and all of our pupils are encouraged to be too. After all, there is no such thing as the wrong weather, only the ‘wrong clothes’.

Pupils are taught in small groups with a maximum number of pupils being 8. All Forest School sessions aim to be as child-led as possible, with qualified practitioners on hand to extend learning, or encourage pupils to try new things such as using tools or other equipment.

 

Morning Sessions

Our morning sessions are based on outdoor learning and therefore follow the individual class teacher’s focus for that session; this may be related to their current topic, or have a more mark making, maths or physical development focus.

Afternoon Sessions

Afternoon sessions are more Forest School based with pupils learning how to construct dens, use tools to make things, light fires and understand the importance of staying safe around fire. These sessions are planned for, and Catherine follows pupil ideas and interests to ensure that they are building on prior learning and developing new skills.

 

It has been a joy to watch our pupils grow in confidence with tool use the more they have used them in Forest School sessions.

Forest School is not directly linked to our four different curriculums, but instead, it develops the whole pupil. It is particularly useful for embedding behaviours for learning, and social skills which pupils will then transfer to their lessons inside the classroom. We have seen how much more willing to take turns and share and support each other our pupils have become as part of their forest school journey. We often have pupils help each other to use tools, and wait patiently for their turn to play a game. It is wonderful to see this and benefits our pupils so much when they are in regular lessons.

Forest School fosters an ability to cooperate, work as a team, and support each other. This lends itself to our school’s values of Personal, Learning, Thinking Skills and way of working, as well as supporting many of our pupil’s EHCP targets too. Pupils develop a love for nature and the outdoors, and this can only benefit the future of our planet.

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“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 wooded environment with trees”

Source Forest School Association

6 Principles of Forest School

  1. Long term process of regular sessions (usually in 6-week blocks) throughout the different seasons.

  2. Forest School needs to happen outdoors in a natural wooded or woodland environment. A quality environment is crucial.

  3. It promotes holistic development: a sense of ‘wonder’, ‘awe’ and encourages creativity.

  4. Taking appropriate supported risks. Activities need to be “appropriately safe”.

  5. Led by qualified Forest School practitioners who have a valid 2-day outdoor forest school first aid certificate.

  6. Learner-centred process; child-led learning is at the centre of the forest school ethos.

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