Forest School and Outdoor Learning
Here at Frodsham CE, we place great importance on the education of the whole child.
Our programme of Outdoor Learning at Frodsham CE is adult-led with a structured approach, to ensure that learning in the classroom is enhanced and reinforced. This helps to support the notion that key concepts are embedded into children’s long-term memory, providing platforms for future learning and concept development. Learning outdoors is intrinsically motivating for children, helping to support their spiritual development and awareness of the wonder of the world around us. Spending more time outdoors in nature also helps to decrease stress and anxiety, supporting both physical and mental health.
In September 2021, Frodsham CE began a programme of development for our outdoor environment, to enhance our children’s learning and experiences at school. Forest school sessions were introduced into our outdoor learning which has been developed to complement and enhance our curriculum. Our extensive outdoor environment, which includes a large pond area, field, quiet reflection area, wildlife area, wild flower meadow and, thanks to our amazing PTA, our brand-new outdoor classroom called ‘The Learning Lodge’. We are grateful for the support of our parent volunteers who help to ensure the area is maintained, attractive and safe for children. All teachers and teaching assistants have had training in all aspects of Forest School practise and health and safety procedures. At Frodsham CE, we are very proud to have this excellent, exciting and enriching addition to our curriculum.
We set up wildlife cameras in the grounds to capture our visitors when no-one is around. As you can see, we have a badger set on site!
Forest School offers our children opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland environment. Activities are designed to build independence, stimulate awe and wonder, encourage perseverance and determination, improve mental health, build positive relationships and promote problem-solving, all of which equip children with the skills they need to face challenges and changes in the future. Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
All our children throughout school, from our youngest children in Nursery to our eldest in Year 6, attend at least 2 - 4 full day Forest School sessions, every half-term. All Forest School sessions take place in our own large on-site woodland forest area. Whilst taking part in Forest School, the children have the opportunity to learn about the natural world, develop practical skills, such as den building and fire lighting, and explore, problem solve and also play in their forest - they have so much fun!
The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences. It is an inspirational process, that offers ALL children regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment setting. At Frodsham CE, our Forest School also aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
At Forest School all children are viewed as:
- equal, unique and valuable
- capable to explore and discover
- permitted to experience appropriate risk and challenge and to experience regular success
- allowed to choose, and to initiate and drive their own learning and development
- enabled to develop positive relationships with themselves and other people
- entitled to develop a strong, positive relationship with their natural world
Forest School rules and Countryside Code
- Children are encouraged to be involved in the decisions about their environment and safety.
- Children will learn to understand and appreciate the countryside code as they learn to enjoy and respect the environment in which they are learning.
- Children will learn about issues regarding sustainability, and how their actions have consequences.
- Children will be encouraged to develop a respect for tools, and understand their potential and uses.
- Clear boundaries will be set dependent upon the activities taking place in the session and children will begin to learn and understand that whilst there are risks involved in Forest School, careful steps have been taken to make them manageable. Children will be involved in setting the boundaries as and when appropriate.
FQAs for parents
Will my child need any special clothing for Forest School?
Forest School sessions will take place outside in our forest in almost any weathers. We will provide a shelter from the elements, but it is still important that your child wears clothes that are waterproof, warm and that are OK to get wet, muddy and perhaps, in some cases, damaged (for example, ripped on a branch). We ask that all children have suitable footwear (e.g. wellies or walking boots) and waterproofs. In the winter months, the children will be glad of hats and gloves. Any other equipment we use is provided by the school.
Reception class have their own wellies in school to change into when they arrive in school. The children can come to school in trainers/boots and we will help them to change into their wellies before we go out. We also have all in one waterproof suits for the children to wear if it gets very soggy outside!
On a Forest School Day we ask that your child comes to school ready for Forest School in their own clothes suitable for the weather predicted. They do not wear school uniform on this day. The children will still have their snacks and lunch in school as usual.
How safe is Forest School?
Safety is our main priority during Forest School. All activities are thoroughly risk assessed before the start of each session and teachers will continue to monitor the safety of the class as activities progress. Yes, there is an element of risk associated with Forest School activities; however the children will always be supervised and taught how to safely use equipment, tools, move branches etc. correctly before being allowed to have a go. There will always be a trained first aider present during the day and a written emergency plan to follow if needed.
What are the future plans for the forest?
We are currently establishing our Forest School using the large area of forest within our school grounds. With the help and support of our amazing PTA, staff and parent volunteers, we have already cleared nettles and weeds from the area, cut away unsafe branches from the trees, built and filled a shed full of new resources and a log store and a fire pit and seating area. We have also planted willow trees and bushes in the far corner of the forest. Next, we are planning to erect a parachute canopy to provide shelter for the children during their Forest School Days and make a permanent fire pit and seating circle underneath.
If you require any further information regarding our Outdoor Learning or Forest School sessions, please contact school directly.