What your child can expect from a Forest School programme?
Forest School leaders introduce activities to the group in order to stimulate interest and give the group ideas to develop themselves. Specific activities vary hugely and a definitive list is not possible, although typical examples will include:
- Safe fire lighting and fire management.
- Simple cooking and hot drinks
- Sculpture and pictures using woodland materials.
- Stories with themes on the natural world
- Woodcraft activities using simple hand tools and natural resources such as green wood and other plant material.
- Natural play trails or rope trails
- Den building with natural resources or tarpaulins.
- Buckets and digging tools for earth and mud play
- Games to promote environmental awareness.
- Crucial Free time to develop positive relationships and self-reflect
Is Forest School Safe?
Forest School sessions will be led by Ben Heffernan who is a fully qualified Forest School Leader, with over 6 years outdoor education experience. He is also trained in first aid.
Forest School Sessions are also supported by our dedicated Forest School Learning Assistant Mrs Yolande Beckwith.
Staffing ratios will be adhered to and any pupils who require 1:1 support will have this during Forest School. Forest School Sessions are inclusive and planned to allow all pupils, including SEN to participate fully. The safety and welfare of the pupils participating in Forest School is paramount and therefore all tasks are age-appropriate and risk assessments have been carried out for all activities prior to taking place.
What will my child be learning in this time spent outside the class?
Mr Heffernan has developed a diverse set of sessions that link in with core curriculum and foundation subjects that excite and inspire young minds. His sessions help promote an holistic approach to learning that incorporates play, creativity, communication and imagination.
Mr Heffernan's sessions are built around building self-confidence, a greater social capability and resilience. Children learn to take risks, experience life and growth, and have their own adventures.
Mr Heffernan also provides weekly Forest School sessions to children identified as 'vulnerable' and/or with poor school attendance, and those simply in need of some nurturing. These sessions have proven to foster self-esteem and confidence but also develop a stronger positive attitude to learning. These sessions have had positive impacts to self-confidence, social capability and resilience.
What will my child need to bring on their Forest School days?
Forest School sessions will take place in all weathers except for very high winds. In order to participate in Forest School, your child mush have wellies or old footwear. Bringing old clothes to change into is also advisable, as your child WILL get mucky! Please bring sun cream and a hat on warmer days.
Sitting around the campfire as a group: learning, listening, singing, making and sharing food cooked on the fire is a wonderfully communal and magical experience for children. This incredibly ancient tradition still remains mystifying, stimulating the senses by letting you feel the fires warmth, and at Forest School we teach the skills of fire lighting using natural materials; children learn to respect it and take ownership, to both build a fire and cook on it. Qualified FS Leaders supervision at all times.
Always a firm favourite, natural dens, tarp shelters and willow domes; if you have the imagination, we can help you build it. Children learn key skills such as knot tying, alongside communication, collaboration and problem solving skills.
Forest School tools are wide and varied, from outdoor cutting tools such as bushcraft knives for whittling, through to axes and hatchets for splitting wood, and bowsaws for cutting the branches off trees.
We're going on a bug hunt! Exploring different habitats is a fantastic way for children to explore and discover the world around enabling them to develop a range of skills when finding, collecting, identifying, recording, drawing and discussing mini-beasts. finding and collecting mini-beasts can be a great team activity that covers many Early Years goals, from communication and language, to physical development. There are also opportunities for literacy, maths and art when looking for these little critters.
Natural Arts and Crafts
Forest mobiles, necklaces and bracelets, stickmen, puppets - the possibilities are endless when you have the imagination and a few resources. We love getting children to look closely at their environment and the things that can be found in it. Eco art is great for this.
Bushcraft and Survival
There is something about the idea of having to survive with only your skills and instincts that engages most children. We teach survival skills from fire lighting to bow making, but also like to have a bit of fun drawing on popular computer games such as Minecraft to show children that there's more to building a trusty shelter than a click of a few buttons.
During Forest School we're all about building confidence, self esteem, developing communication, co-operation and leadership skills. What better way of doing so than to immerse yourself in nature and take on some of our team challenges. Mr Heffernan has a collection of diverse games and team building activities from treasure trails to Ninja training courses, which have been tried and tested over the years, that enhance problem solving skills and encourage creativity whilst having lots of fun in the process. We actively encourage our participants to use their imagination by developing their own games challenges, providing plenty of free time to do so. Our instructor lead games demonstrate what can be done outside with a bit of creativity.
Music, Shows and Story Telling
Incorporating music, drama and story telling adds something special to Forest School sessions. Whether it's building a makeshift stage for children to perform on or setting the mood around the campfire with a story.
Children seem to have a natural urge to climb trees! Although tree climbing does have some inherent risks, the benefits that can be gained from such an activity can be monumental to a child's development. We assess the risks through Risk Benefit Analysis (RBA) so we can still provide realistic challenges for the children, allowing them to work through obstacles and learn to weigh up risk for themselves.
Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter, it doesn't matter - we are outside exploring the changing seasons. With important links to the national curriculum such as plant and animal life, weather patterns, relationships and patterns in nature, there is so much to be gained for curious minds.
What's New at Forest School?
This summer we were lucky enough to be able to use the Pathways Care Farm for our Forest School sessions; an amazing opportunity that is usually off limits to the general public, we had 3 weeks of exploring and learning on a real farm.
Our students got nothing but praise from the staff at the farm, so we have been invited back again next Summer! We can't wait!
We are starting the JOHN MUIR AWARD here at St Margaret's
Great news! Our proposal to start delivering the John Muir Award here at St Margaret's Primary Academy has been approved! We will be the FIRST and ONLY school delivering this amazing environmental award scheme in the region. Take a look at this link to see what all the fuss is about!