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 complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.
‘Forest School is a feeling you can’t put into words.’ Tonicha, aged 9
The ethos is shared by thousands of trained practitioners across the UK and beyond. Its roots reach back to early years pioneers in outdoor learning and across the sea to Scandinavia.
‘I don’t have ADHD when I`m out in the woods.’ David, aged 14
( Forest School Association)
The Forest School Association has set out 6 Principles for good Forest School practice-
Principle 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.
Principle 2 – Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
Principle 3 – Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
Principle 4 – Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
Principle 5 – Forest School is run by qualified Forest School Practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
Principle 6 – Forest School uses a range of learner -centred processes to create a community for development and learning.
Here at Stebbing we have our own Forest School site at the rear of the school. We are also very fortunate to have agreed access to a large privately owned water meadow and wooded area in Stebbing.
Our school space has mature trees for climbing and swinging and there are shrubs and grassland which affords a degree of wildness for the children to explore, make dens and play games.
There are two large established ponds which offer great pond dipping activities.
In the centre we have our seated fire circle with a fire pit, we regularly make fires and cook lots of tasty food, learning about food hygiene, preparing ingredients and cooking temperatures, a valuable life skill. All the children are taught how to make fire, how to maintain it, how to keep safe and to ensure it is extinguished correctly. We also have a homemade Cob oven for making pizzas, bread and cakes. The fire is an integral part of what we do, the children love roasting marshmallows and overall the cooking activities create a great sense of community and cooperation.
All the children can learn how to use a variety of tools, such as hammers, saws and drills, they can create and make what they choose. We also show the children how to whittle and use knives correctly, ensuring they are aware of safety to themselves and others around them.
Forest School provides opportunities for making new friends, team building, problem solving, empathy, inclusion, language development, fine and gross motor skills development and a deep connection with the natural world.
It challenges both the physical and the emotional, here the children are supported in developing resilience and to keep trying if something fails, to learn how to develop coping strategies, however long it may take them.
The Forest School sessions are run and led by Rachel Alger, who is a Level 3 Forest School Practitioner. She also holds a current Outdoor pediatric first aid certificate and continually develops her skills and teaching. She has also trained in Bushcraft and survival skills.
The Forest School Leader is responsible for producing detailed risk assessments and equipment and safety checks for all the activities on offer as well as the policies and procedure statements pertaining to all the Forest School activities.These are reviewed and updated annually and are available to be seen in the school office.
There are supporting staff at each session as well as parent helpers. We gladly welcome any parent to come and spend time with us , as a visitor or as a regular helper, details are available from the school office.
For more information – www.forestschoolassociation.