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.