We were recently successful in gaining a grant from ‘Learning through Landscapes’ to purchase additional outdoor learning equipment. The grant was for £500 worth of equipment and included 2 hours of training. This training took place last Thursday (10th October) and involved a selection of teachers and teaching assistants and the forest school rangers from Year 5 and 6. We spent the time outside on the nature trail learning more about the ways we can learn outside and asked the children to share with us the activities they have enjoyed the most, or would like to try. They were really keen to share their ideas and absolutely loved being outside measuring how tall a tree is by looking through their legs, or aging a tree using their hand span measurements. We also got to try out some of the equipment we have received and managed to make forest school badges using palm drills and wood circles.
It was a really enjoyable morning and the children are looking forward to supporting on forest school Fridays as well as to their own opportunities to learn outside.
We embrace the Forest Schools ethos at Heatherlands Primary. At Heatherlands, we want our children to have opportunities to develop and thrive alongside their formal classroom education.
The Forest School approach was first used in Scandinavia, and is still today. Often, a ‘true’ Forest School will not have any formal buildings – all learning is done outside, whatever the weather, and everything is seen as a learning opportunity. The ethos allows children to learn life skills, such as communication, risk awareness, trust and teamwork, as well as developing the values that we hold at the core of Heatherlands Primary – Respect, Resilience, Motivation, Aspiration and Independence. Children have the time to explore the outdoor environment in a safe way, while working alongside staff who will facilitate opportunities to ensure that the children benefit from the activities on offer.
Activities can include:
games and songs
art using natural materials
This is not by any means an exhaustive list! The learning is child-led, with adults on hand to ensure children are safe and all activities are risk assessed in advance.
Initially, we trialled a ‘taster session’ with Year 4, and then began a half termly rolling programme whereby each Year 4 class came out into the woodland on a Tuesday afternoon. Early Years children also spent time in the woodland on a Wednesday. This was a fantastic opportunity to get the children into a completely different environment and to be able to observe and facilitate their learning in a positive and different way. All other year groups also received a “taster session” last year.
This year we are trialling 'Forest School Friday'. Each year group gets to spend a whole day every half term experiencing Forest Schools and they are supported by our brilliant teachers, TAs and Year 5 and year 6 Forest School Rangers. They rotate around 2 activities on each Friday and will always get a chance to undertake a 'risk' activity.
If you would like to find out more, please have a look at this link to find out more about what Forest School is and the ethos behind it:
All children have now had an assembly about Forest School, and I hope they are enthused and excited by the idea!