Newnham Croft Primary School is fortunate to have a wildlife area at the end of the field which backs onto the local Paradise Nature Reserve. Our wildlife area is fully fenced and has a locked gate onto the field. Children access the wildlife area only with a member of staff as amongst other hazards there is a fairly deep pond! We are also very lucky to have a visiting fully trained, experienced and highly inspirational Forest School teacher, Liz Bicknell and Mr Tom Pinnock who is one of the school teachers who is training as a Forest School teacher.
Reception classes have 4 sessions a term and all other classes at least one session a term.
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 embraces the challenges and opportunities of the outdoors. Nasty weather and nasty nettles are all part of it. Nettles, dealt with carefully (in gloves), can be used to make useful string for typing up bundles of twigs as firelighters. Nasty weather is an opportunity to work together to build a den and see what makes the most water proof canopy.
Children learn all the skills they learn in the classroom but in an exhilarating way in which they must also manage risk. They will cut twigs with secateurs, use saws to cut branches, climb trees and fallen branches - and make seesaws out of logs. For the youngest pupils, learning to walk on uneven forest floors or push through chest-high grass are challenges in themselves.
Not only do all the obvious nature studies take place - but also, for example, a dark hollow can become a monster's den - and inspiration for a story can be told back in the classroom; and if they want to pull a big branch out of a hedge, children lean to collaborate and cooperate. Older children might explore, for example, how to enhance a woodland visit for the visually impaired.
Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and compliments the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.
At Forest School all participants are viewed as:
- equal, unique and valuable
- competent to explore & discover
- entitled to experience appropriate risk and challenge
- entitled to choose, and to initiate and drive their own learning and development
- entitled to experience regular success
- entitled to develop positive relationships with themselves and other people
- entitled to develop a strong, positive relationship with their natural world
This learner-centred approach interweaves with the ever-changing moods and marvels, potential and challenges of the natural world through the seasons to fill every Forest School session and programme with discovery and difference.
Principles of Forest School
These principles were first articulated by the Forest School Community in 2002, they are:
- FS is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than a one-off or infrequent visits; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation and review links each session.
- FS takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
- FS uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for being, development and learning.
- FS aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
- FS offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
- FS is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.