Together Everyone Achieves More
What is Forest School?
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 is a specialised learning approach that sits within and compliments the wider context of education at Fleetdown Primary Academy and our core values.
As described by the Forest School Association, the six Forest School Principles are as follows:
1. Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one-off visit. Planning, adaptation, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School which supports resilience.
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 which develops the value of respect.
3. Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
4. Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
5. Forest School is led by a qualified Forest School practitioner and the Fleetdown staff team, who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
6. Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning.
At Fleetdown we have two Forest School areas one which is used by Reception (this is a self contained area next to the Reception playground) and a larger wilder area at the bottom of the school field for the other classes. Children experience Forest School with the Forest School lead, their class teacher and support staff. EYFS teachers plan and lead "Forest Fun" sessions.
Forest School is a really exciting experience which uses the outdoor environment to encourage independence, improve language and decision-making, and raise self-esteem through small achievable tasks.
Forest school is a child led kinaesthetic learning experience. The Forest School Leader sets up each lesson to follow on from learning in the previous session, with a range of activities which are linked to either the topic or a skill area that may have been identified as needing work (such as negotiation, listening skills, fine motor skills or management of energy levels). At the beginning of the session the activities are outlined and each child has the opportunity to explore these activities throughout the session. The child determines the rate, direction, depth and breadth of their learning. Some activities will lead to unset tasks. For example a child who was looking for leaves to create Andy Goldsworthy art may find an earth worm in our minibeast log area and spend the rest of the session observing the worm and its habitat.
The children are encouraged to revisit both skills and projects they have completed in previous weeks to see how time and the environment have had an affect on them and also to ensure that their learning is secure.
How else does Forest school help Fleetdown’s children?
The activities at forest school are designed to improve the children’s resilience and self-confidence. The children are expected to have a go at everything and the adults will support them but not complete the task for them. We have seen a marked improvement in children’s ability to attempt an activity and articulate the kind of help they need rather than just saying “I can’t do this”. We have a limited number of tools and this means that the children need to use good communication and negotiation skills, we have also noticed an improvement in this area since we have been running Forest School. Team work skills are also developed as a number of the activities and tools require team work.
The children have learnt to listen carefully to instructions and now follow a wide range of complicated yet necessary protocols. They have developed an awareness of others needs and risk assessment skills.
The tool work we do helps with fine and gross motor skills which in turn supports handwriting. Even walking down to Forest School develops their awareness of other’s needs and their place in the community. Forest school has helped children work, learn and play with a wider range of children and shows the class teacher how they work in a different environment which can then be used to inspire and develop learning in the classroom.