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Where the Wild Things Are - Forest School Session

Earlier this term our Y2 children’s learning was linked to a topic entitled ‘Giants’.

The children set off on a journey of discovery and delight as they set sail with Max, travelling in and out of days, weeks and years to find some giant wild things.

Once they had arrived they discovered that Max need not have sailed in his boat for so long – he could have just packed his suitcase and travelled to our Forest School garden where he would have been assured to find lots of ‘Wild Things’.

Our session was based on and demonstrates the Forest School ethos, principles and criteria for good practice.


Principle 1 -  Forest School is a long term process of frequent and regular sessions in woodland or natural environment

Principle 2 – Forest school takes place in 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 themselves

Principle 5 – Forest School is run by qualified 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 developing and learning

As our session developed it not only became a session of discovery and difference it was also to become one of discovery and delight as :-

At Forest School all participants are viewed as

*equal, unique and valuable

*competent to explore & discover

*entitled to experience regular success

*entitled to experience appropriate risks and challenges

*entitled to initiate and drive their own learning and development

*entitled to develop positive relationships with themselves and other people

*entitled to develop strong, positive relationships with the natural world

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Our long term vision to incorporate Forest School into our outdoor learning sessions has relied soleiy on our ability to develop areas of our school grounds into a more natural 'forest area'.

Forest School is built on an ethos focusing on strategies and approaches to facilitate opportunities where self esteem and emotional intelligence can be developed.

Therefore the natural forest environment is viewed as key to enhancing and empowering children's learning.
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An interest in developing the Forest School approach lead to our Outdoor Learning co-ordinator, Miss Karen Brownrigg, gaining a Level Three Forest School Leaders Qualification earlier this year.

My initial reason for applying to Forest School Northumberland was so that I could gain a better understanding of what Forest School was all about. I had heard so much about it and in the end curiosity got the better of me and I developed a real thirst for knowledge. I needed to find out more! Through engagement in Forest School training I was able to quench that thirst and engage in opportunities that enabled me to become a child again however this time round my childhood was spent in the forest at Blagdon and I was able to absorb forest life through first hand experiences. It did not take me long before I really had to reign myself in as my imagination was running riot. Blagdon was such a magical place to be and a place very hard to replicate back at school. In some ways our children are very fortunate as the forest garden they have access to is large, roomy and well established with some very mature trees but I still found myself questioning ‘Is this the best we can do?’ As the weeks passed and through delivery of Forest School sessions I was able to see many learning experiences that confirmed the environment was suitable and one that still had scope to develop in future years through further planting.


The children love the forest garden and many memorable experiences have been recorded through the voice of the child during our Forest School sessions:

‘I liked the dancing, outside feels special, we get to do lots of new experiences like having hot chocolate beside the fire and we can see the trees and it’s more beautiful.’ (Lexie)

 

‘I like finding stuff, outside you go places you haven’t been before. It’s new and exciting making discoveries I loved making the hotel for my Blobster. There was lots of art and I’m good at using my imagination. It actually feels like am an explorer.’ (Daniel)

 

‘I just liked collection all the things I could make my Stickman with from the garden. Little hands and little legs. I liked Charlie’s little sticks he put on his Stickman’s cheeks. It made him look tribal.’ (Lexie)

 

‘I still have the Stickman I made. He’s in my garden at home. He looks real and I talk to him. I ask him how he is doing?’ (Jacques)

 

‘People will see our Tree Guardians and see that we care for nature and they won’t chop our trees down when they see how long it took us to put our Tree Guardians on the trees.’ (Lexie)

Based on these comments and from my many observations I consider myself very fortunate indeed to have been able to share in the children’s learning experiences as well as deepen my own knowledge and understanding of Forest School pedagogy. Through linking principles to practice I have been guided by the children towards specific and unique outcomes that I honestly did not expect. Being a familiar adult to the children who is always in the forest garden with them allowed me a deeper insight into their thinking as well as being able to become part of their experiences with them. these reflective thoughts will be the ones that inform further planning sessions:-

 

‘Oh yeah! I remember my Blobster. We made a park and guess what I liked? I liked getting pebbles to make a little house and Leah wanted to make a swimming pool. Remember we got little sticks from over there and we made a swimming pool with leaves. I liked making paths out of little stones and we made a bridge that went through the middle.’ (Lexie)

 

Considering that this is a child reflecting back on an experience she had had in the forest garden 8 months prior than this conversation with her demonstrates the depth of experience Forest School sessions can engage learners in.

The qualification was gained through Archimedes Training and was delivered by Richard Wood, Outdoor Learning Northumberland Ltd, in the beautiful grounds of Blagdon Estate.


The following handbook contains information, policies and procedures relating to Forest School sessions at Percy Main Primary School.

The handbook promotes specific planned Forest School experiences that are accessible to all interested parties who may wish to support or become part of our exceptional outdoor learning practice.

Further Information

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Percy Main Primary School \nNelson Terrace\nNorth Shields\nTyne & Wear\nNE29 6JA\n\nTel: (0191) 200 6343\n@PercyMainPS
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