Forest School is the name for an approach to educating children in the outdoors on a regular basis in smaller groups. It aims to provide children with experiential opportunities, allowing them to respond positively to different opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and to cope with change and challenge. The sessions are led by child interest, with hooks such as den building materials, bug and wildlife resources and opportunities to have a fire and experience cooking and tool use.
This work supports the main curriculum (particularly PSHE, literacy, science, maths and the arts) and will have a strong emphasis on raising all children's self-esteem, resilience and independence, as well as teaching children how to manage their own risk and develop skills to work cooperatively within a team.
There are a large amount of risk assessments and policies in place to assure our families that all risks have been reduced to an acceptable level. An integral part of the Forest School experience is that children will experience the outdoors in all weathers (with the exception of very high winds and thunder storms), so we have started to stock up on warm layers, wet weather gear and wellington boots in school to provide to the children. Please do think of us when having a clear out as donations are always welcome.
If your child is taking part in regular sessions it is advised, if possible, to provide a waterproof and change of footwear that can be kept at school for them to access independently when needed. If you are unable to do this please let us know and we can support you with this – it is important that all children have access to forest school sessions with sufficient clothing to do so.
The Wheatfields Forest School site is next to the Key Stage 1 playground and backs onto the school field. Here the children have the opportunity to whittle wood, climb trees, build dens, explore the nature around them, learn how to make a fire safely and all whilst socialising with other children with whom they may not have interacted before. The impact of such activities leads to increased confidence both socially and in the classroom in areas such as motor skills, problem solving and team-working and the children make memories that last a lifetime.
We are lucky enough to have Mrs Pope as our lead in Outdoor Learning and Forest school at Wheatfields. She is currently running regular EYFS Forest school sessions, additional forest sessions and promoting outdoor learning.