At St Agnes’ Catholic primary School we want to give our children the best possible opportunities and experiences.
The ethos of Forest School is based on a respect for children and their capacity to initiate, investigate and maintain curiosity in the world around them. It believes in a child's right to play; the right to access the outdoors (and in particular a woodland environment); the right to experience risk in a controlled way in the natural world along with the right to develop their emotional intelligence through social interaction, building a resilience to enable creative engagement with their peers and their potential.
Forest School is nature-based, where practitioners nurture learner-led exploration and discovery, nurturing meaningful experiences for positive lifelong impacts. Through creating learner inspired experiences based on exploration and discovery, we recognise opportunities to mentor holistic growth. Wellbeing is the foundation of our practice and Forest Schools help to develops social, emotional and physical needs as well as confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands on experiences in a natural setting.
Linking progression and new skills as the children visit the forest school site. The progression allows for the children to build on previous learning and develop new skills. This is underpinned with the adult repeating the same safety rules, identifying boundaries, emphasising the importance of safety and making links to learning new skills to their everyday lives.
Forest school expands the children’s learning of the natural world and how they as individuals can have an influence and impact on the world today for example, going green, recycling, protecting trees.
The children are encouraged to learn new skills but also develop these skills as they get older and taller.
At St Agnes’ Catholic Primary School we aim to give all children an insight into the ethos of Forest School.
Forest School builds on a child’s positive attitude to learning, offering them the opportunities to take risks, make choices and initiate learning for themselves. The Forest School learning environment provides opportunities for children to develop self-esteem, self-confidence, to form positive relationships with others, to develop a growing awareness of their emotional needs and the needs of others, to learn to cooperate and work with their peers and adults and to develop strategies in order to take risks within the boundaries of safety.
Forest School is about exploring and experiencing the natural world through play.
The child can access the forest at their own level, be it age related to ability. The recapping of previous skills and knowledge allows access for all. The child initiated approach gives a greater level of understanding and engagement. The children are actively choosing appropriate equipment or tools that they need.
Children will grow in confidence as a result of the freedom, time and space they are given in their learning. This allows them to demonstrate independence at each individual child’s rate.
The children will begin to understand, assess and manage their own risk and safety. This will allow the children to become more independent and show them that life comes with not only risk but also rewards. It also teaches them what their own limits are and that they can push through them. They will see that sometimes we don’t always get the desired result the first time but that doesn’t make us a failure, it helps us to grow, forcing us to try again in a different way. Forest schools encourages problem solving, logical thinking and self-reflection and evaluation.
Activities such as sharing tools and participating in play, help teach the children to work together as a group, which strengthens their bonds and social skills. The review time at the end of each session allows time for this self-reflection and for all children to share their successes.
The sensory experiences provided by Forest School helps prompt language development. The adult can play a role of just observing, coming along side, modelling, supporting or encouraging.
Children develop an interest in the great outdoors and respect for the natural world around them. The changing seasons and weather offer a wealth of interest and opportunities.
We measure the impact of our curriculum through the images and videos of the children’s practical learning and talking to the children about their learning during reflection (pupil voice). These are included on school website so parents and other adults can see the images.
Ideas are shared with the children how they can expand their learning by going for nature walks, putting up bird feeders in their own garden, building bug hotels and using their new learnt skills in a new way.