At Bridge & Patrixbourne CEP School we are lucky enough to have lots of outdoor space and a small area of woodland that we use for Forest School activities. The Forest School approach initiated from Scandinavia, where learning in the outdoors has been a key part of the curriculum since the 1950’s. The ethos of our Forest School allows learners the time and space to develop skills, interests and understanding through practical, hands-on experiences. It is a long term outdoor programme of activities, delivered by trained practitioners within a natural environment, which allows children to develop independence, confidence and self-esteem.
Our programme is tailored to meet the needs of the children as they grow in confidence, skills and understanding. Learning can be linked to the National Curriculum and whole school themes with sessions providing children with the freedom to explore using multiple senses. Forest school activities are child led but we do offer a range of springboard activities which are often inspired by the topics of each class.
We support the six principles of Forest School, which were agreed by the UK Forest School community in 2011.
• Principle 1: Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one-off visit.
• Principle 2: 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.
• Principle 3: Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners
• Principle 4: Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
• Principle 5: Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
• Principle 6: Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning
Forest School Staffing and Safety
We employ Jasmin Chiaramello-Hopker who is a level 3 qualified Forest School leader to lead and plan the sessions. She is accompanied by the class teacher and teaching assistant. Before we undertake any new activity which requires new skills we have a tool talk or activity protocol which includes a demonstration of how and why we use the tool/activity and what we need to do to be safe. Every time we then use that tool or revisit that activity we recap the protocol. When we use tools such as bow saws or when we light fires this is done under close supervision to ensure the children’s safety. Jasmin Chiaramello-Hopker is fully qualified in Forest School First Aid.
How you can support Forest School
Wood: If you are having any tree work done we always need wood for activities
Tools: We are always looking for garden tools to help with our activities
Equipment: We are looking to extend our activities by using ropes and tarpaulins if you have any camping or outdoors equipment you wish to donate.