Subject Leader: Miss James, Year 3 Teacher and Forest School Leader
“Being in nature allows children to experience and learn not only about the world, but themselves.”
What is Forest School?
Forest School is based on the principle that children of all ages can benefit greatly from the learning opportunities inherently present in a woodland environment. Forest Schools provides opportunities in an outdoor setting for children to develop a variety of skills: particularly PSHE skills such as independence, self-discovery, communication, self-esteem and confidence building. Children learn to take risks, use their initiatives and co-operate. Beyond this, teachers can use the outdoor environment as a vehicle for art activities, key science concepts, developing physical skills and a whole lot more! In a typical session there may be an adult-led activity, but the ethos of Forest Schools also allows time for children to follow their own learning pathways and interests and adults then support them in their learning. Forest School is organised and delivered by a qualified Forest School Leader.
We are very fortunate to have our own Forest School Site here at Didsbury Road Primary School. We offer Forest School to all children from year one to year six. Each year group has a block of Forest School sessions over the academic year and this will take place on a Wednesday (see our timetable below). You will be notified by school/your class teacher prior to your child taking part in Forest School.
Our Forest School Intent
At Didsbury Road Primary School, our Forest School provision provides nurturing, positive outdoor learning experiences to support our children’s well-being and personal development. Children learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and how to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others. Children participating in Forest School have the opportunity to explore, play, learn boundaries of behaviour and develop life-long skills such a confidence, resilience, independence and motivation, whilst making links to the curriculum.
Inclusion at Forest School
See the attached document for adaptive teaching strategies at Forest School in the areas of:
- communication and interaction
- cognition and learning
- sensory and/or physical
- social and emotional
Teaching and Learning at Forest School
We follow the six steps to outstanding teaching and learning across our school and this is mirrored at Forest School (see separate Teaching and Learning Policy).
Orientation – We are very lucky at Didsbury Road Primary School to have our own, purpose ‘planted’ Forest School site that we use for our Forest School sessions. It is a safe, diverse and inclusive space that our children are familiar with and it has dedicated areas to develop different skills. The school’s visions and values are mirrored at Forest School and encourage our children to come to Forest School with an open mind and use growth mindset strategies to challenge themselves and develop skills of resilience, self-belief and confidence.
Prior Knowledge – Our children continuously make links between what they are doing at Forest School and their day to day lives and how the practical and interpersonal skills they are developing will support them in the classroom and later life. Using prior knowledge from personal experiences is always welcome, explored and challenged. We use information given by the class teacher to plan and extend the children’s prior learning and to develop any areas of need. Our Forest School leader has experience teaching in various year groups and this knowledge is used to extend and link learning at Forest School to the curriculum where possible.
Presentation - We link our Forest School sessions to learning in the classroom and are constantly making connections with the outside world. Learning at Forest School is always multisensory and we engage pupils through introducing the block of sessions with a “bigger picture” of what we hope to achieve and our path to succeeding this goal. All learning is very practical which the children love!
Challenge – Sessions and activities are designed to challenge pupils’ thinking and stretch their interpersonal skills whilst encouraging critical thinking and reasoning. Pupils are encouraged to make connections and are given opportunities to apply knowledge that has been acquired in the classroom or daily life. They often work in pairs or small groups and learning partners change frequently to encourage the development of team work and communication. Questioning is used to encourage the pupils to think more deeply, problem solve and move their learning on.
Feedback – Feedback is fluid at Forest School and is always ‘in the moment’. Our Forest School leader and support staff use direct verbal feedback to support team work, exploration, skill development and offer suggestions to move learning forward. Through group work, children develop their own ‘talk and feedback’ strategies as part of cooperative learning and communication.
Repeat - Recall strategies are applied through questioning at the start of each Forest School session with reminders of how what we are learning can be applied in the classroom and daily life. Our progression of skills across all year groups also supports repeat learning and our free exploration time allows children to revisit skills or activities frequently which further embeds their learning.
All our activities are carried out in a safe and controlled manner and the activities that your child will participate in will depend on the age, ability and experience. Examples of Forest School activities include:
- Woodland management
- Environmental exploration
- Nature exploration
- Building dens and other structures
- Fire lighting and cooking
- Games and invitations for imaginative play and discovery
- Natural crafts
- Using tools
- Scavenger hunts and adventure
- Seasonal celebrations
What our pupils say about Forest School…
Thank you to Ayaan, Thomas, Nikolete, Maeve, Jasmine, Anjuma, Harrison and Neave for your wonderful writing!
Progression of Skills at Forest School
Early Years - Understanding the World
Can you help develop our Forest School?
If you have any old pots, pan, utensils, kitchen 'bits' at home that you no longer need please bring them to the office, labelled FAO Miss James, so that we can develop our Mud Kitchen in Forest School.
Any old gardening equipment and clean, nail-free wood also welcome!