Forest School at Chawton CE Primary School
Our Forest School runs using the principles of Forest School. Our aim is to allow our children to be curious about the world round them, giving opportunities for them to participate and succeed during the Forest School sessions.
The 6 key principles of Forest School
- Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment.
- 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
We understand that children need to play. They also need to access and spend quality time outdoors in nature. We know that our pupils must equip themselves with the ability to risk assess for themselves in a natural environment and we expose them to controlled risk during our sessions.
We aim to make a safe space for our children to experience a healthy range of emotions. Through their Forest School experiences they should experience the challenges of social interaction, build their resilience through a series of challenges they have initiated, which promotes better engagement in other activities, with their peers and the natural world around them.
We intend to conduct Forest School sessions in almost all weathers – the exception being strong winds and storm conditions due to the danger to the children.
The objectives for the sessions will always be based on social and emotional targets. That will include behaviour, social interactions, working as a team, independent learning and enjoying the natural environment.
Benefits of Forest School
Playing in the natural environment regularly over a long period of time, working on projects initiated by themselves can have the following benefits which are carried into other areas of children’s education and wider life:
- Increased confidence as a result of being given time and space to their learning at Forest School.
- Working in a range of different groups encourages higher social skills, strengthening bonds with their peers and others.
- Communication skills are improved because the range of vocabulary is widened by working in nature. This directly affects self-esteem in a positive way.
- When children spend time on self-initiated learning, they exhibit high levels of motivation and concentration.
- Due to the physical nature of learning outside, children’s physical skills improve – fine and gross motor skills, and stamina all benefit.
- Exploring the natural world will encourage the development of knowledge and understanding of it. With this comes respect and a life-long nature connection.
- Forest School encourages staff to see learning with a new perspective. Observing their class in a natural setting allows them to see a different side of their children.
- Children inspired by the natural world in their Forest School sessions can be keen to go outside more with their family. So the sessions in school have a positive ripple effect beyond the school gate.
- Forest School sessions give an opportunity for children who struggle in the classroom to succeed – they are expected to learn at their own pace and set their own achievable goals. This levels the playing field for disadvantaged children.
- Children are able to establish a strong Nature Connection, setting them up to appreciate, and enjoy spending time in, a natural environment that they are invested in.
- Forest School is enjoyable – the children are following their own agenda and succeed regularly with a little perseverance. At least once a session, staff hear: “This is the best day of my life.”