Forest School at Tithe Barn

What is Forest School?

 

Forest schools are a type of outdoor education in which children visit forests/woodlands, learning personal, social and technical skills. It is an inspirational process that offers children, young people regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment.

 

Forest schools use the woods and forests as a means to build independence and self-esteem in school-age children. Topics are cross-curriculum (broad in subject) including the natural environment, for example the role of trees in society, the complex ecosystem supported by a wilderness, and recognition of specific plants and animals. However, the personal skills are considered highly valuable, such as teamwork and problem solving. The woodland environment may be used to learn about more abstract concepts such as mathematics and communication. 

 

Forest School sessions can only be led by a trained and qualified Level 3 Forest School Leader.

 

What do the children do?

 

Children become familiar with the wood and routines. They learn they are safe—physically, mentally and emotionally. Children have the time and space for play that is child-initiated and child led.  The leader suggests activities but children can follow their own agenda. Natural resources are used together with the children’s interests to stimulate imaginative, creative and investigative activities. These activities help children to take risks safely and be responsible, take care of themselves and others. The sessions have structure and there is a break for a shared snack sitting in the log circle when there is time to reflect. Children learn to use tools for a purpose. They may whittle sticks, climb trees, collect things, study wildlife, listen to the birds, build dens and help light fires. Later in the sessions they may cook on the fire. 

 

How do Forest School sessions benefit the children?

Physical - Children have the space and freedom for physical movement which helps in the modern day fight against obesity.  It increases bone density and vitamin D production. Physical stamina is improved.

 

Self-Esteem - Forest School promotes self-esteem as children never fail during these sessions. Children have freedom, time and space to learn.

 

Social skills - Whilst playing, communication, teambuilding and language skills are developed. Children have increasing awareness of the consequences of their actions.

 

Risks - Children can take risks within a secure environment.  When children are exposed to acceptable levels of risk they are less likely to make bad judgements in the future.

 

Behaviour - Being in the wood has a calming influence on the brain. Recent research indicates that children’s behaviour is improved both in the forest and back in the classroom.

 

Independence - From putting on waterproofs to whittling a stick - sessions promote independence.

 

Communication - The wood provides multi-sensory experiences and this develops children’s language.

 

Natural Environment - Children learn to appreciate, respect and care for the environment and hopefully secure its future.

 

 Forest School at Tithe Barn Primary School

 

We are really lucky to have our amazing grounds which have a wooded area, gardens and of course the playing field. Initially our sessions will be confined to our own site but we do intend in the future, to have longer sessions outside of school in more wild areas. We are now running groups of six KS/1, or eight KS/2 children across all of our year groups except Reception. The children participate in linked weekly sessions which last for a half-term or approximately six weeks. The participants of these sessions are selected by the class teachers who receive regular feedback and reflections on the sessions. At the conclusion of the series of sessions the children are asked to participate in an anonymous online survey, where they are invited to give their views on the sessions and invited to reflect on how they have benefited them. 

 

Mr Stamper is a fully qualified Level 3 Forest School Leader, he is a member of the Forest School Association and actively participates in the Stockport Schools Forest School network. Miss Latham is currently training for her Level 3 qualification.

 

If you need any further information please contact M Stamper. [email protected]  Please also see the website of the Forest School Association (FSA) which contains a lot of useful information. http/www.forestschoolassociation.org