“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 compliments the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.” (Forest School Association)
The six guiding principles of Forest School, which were agreed by the UK Forest School community in 2011 are:
* 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.
* Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
* Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners
* Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
* Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
* Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning. (Forest School Association)
At Rodings Primary School we believe that Forest School forms a very important part of a child’s holistic development. We aim to give all children, practitioners and volunteers a shared understanding of the ethos of Forest School, enabling all children to engage in valuable learning experiences in the natural environment at Lord’s Wood. We give all pupils the chance to explore and experience the natural world through practical activities using the outdoors to promote confidence, independence, risk-taking and self-esteem. We aim to promote positive relationships through cooperation with others, we want our children to be independent, self-motivated, courageous, considerate and respectful and set them up for lifelong learning.
Environmental considerations and conservation
One of the principles of Forest School is to promote environmental awareness and encourage sustainability. The pupils are taught about respect and responsibility for the world around them and good practice should be modelled by adults. Both adults and children are encouraged to respect their environment and to be aware of conservation issues of the woodland around them. We aim to promote respect for wildlife. All activities will be empathetic to the woodland and whenever appropriate, reclaimed recycled and sustainable resources will be used to manage the woodland.
At Rodings we are very lucky to have two Forest School leaders who have successfully completed their Level 3 Forest School leader qualification. Miss Thurgood-Buss and Mrs Simpkins lead the sessions and are responsible for the Forest School programme, including the risk assessing, planning and evaluation of sessions. Both Miss Thurgood-Buss and Mrs Simpkins hold a current paediatric outdoor first aid certificate.
For more information about Forest School, some useful websites to visit are; Forest School Association: http://www.forestschoolassociation.org/full-principles-and-criteria-for-good-practice/ and Essex Wildlife Trust http://www.essexwt.org.uk/discover-learn/forest-school.