Forest School Intent Statement
We believe that children should be able to have access to regular sessions in a woodland environment which allows them to explore, engage in risky play and feel connected with their community. The sessions create a new sense of awe and wonder within the grounds despite it being a familiar environment. The children have time to stop and notice, enthusing one another and sharing their interests with their peers. At Alverstoke Infants we are lucky to have large grounds with a field, small pond and small woodland. Our proximity to the beach offers a variety of outdoor learning opportunities. Learning outdoors is also highly valued at this school and opportunities to cover the curriculum through outdoor activities are regularly utilised.
Forest School compliments the school’s vision and can have a positive impact for thechildren involved. There are many benefits to the Forest School ethos backed up with a growing amount of research in the field. Forest School itself is different to outdoor learning, there are overlaps between the two, but it is the presence of all six Forest School principles that make it unique.
These principles encourage nature connection and holistic development of the whole child. They include:
- The same group of learners taking part in long term regular sessions
- Developing a sense of community
- The use of a natural environment such as a woodland
- Holistic development of the child, fostering resilience, confidence and independence
- Shared responsibility, providing opportunity for supported risks
- Sessions that are run by qualified Forest School practitioners
The activities on offer vary with the seasons and the children’s interests. Some favourite activities include:
- Den building
- Bug hunting
- Climbing trees
- Natural craft making
- Use of tools e.g. palm drill and mallet
- Rope swing
- Fire lighting and group campfire cooking
Implementation and Impact
Regular sessions with the same group of children
Year 1 – six week programme through Spring for each class
Year 2 – 2 x six week programme though Autumn and Summer for each class
Opportunities offered for climbing, running, digging, tool use and exploration
Lots of independent decision making and problem solving. Children returning to the same activity showing confidence and progress.
Sense of community
Children and adults having time to bond and create a reciprocal relationship that values one another’s interest thanks to having extra time!
Shared responsibility – risk assessment
Children are asked to keep themselves safe by following the rules. Many children will risk assess when they notice e.g. animal waste, low lying branches, rubbish etc.
Sense of awe and wonder
We take time to notice seasonal changes and look closely at the wildlife around us. The children share this love of their environment with their friends and it ripples around the school. Spotting Goshawks, woodpeckers, frogs, squirrels and a huge host of invertebrates!
When asked, the children attending the Forest School sessions:
- Reported an improvement in teamwork skills (team ant)
- Showed a curiosity for the world and asked many questions (curious chameleon)
- Showed an ability to try something new or to be brave – risk taking (tough tortoise)
- Improved their perseverance using tools and felt proud of their final product (tough tortoise)
- Agreed they had learnt something new about the world improving their science knowledge (wise owl)