At St Mary's, we are so proud of our forest school provision and the opportunities it provides for our pupils to develop their physical, social and communication skills.
What is Forest School?
Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.
Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.
The ethos is shared by thousands of trained practitioners across the UK and beyond.
At Forest School all participants are viewed as:
- equal, unique and valuable
- competent to explore & discover
- entitled to experience appropriate risk and challenge
- entitled to choose, and to initiate and drive their own learning and development
- entitled to experience regular success
- entitled to develop positive relationships with themselves and other people
- entitled to develop a strong, positive relationship with their natural world
This learner-centred approach interweaves with the ever-changing moods and marvels, potential and challenges of the natural world through the seasons to fill every Forest School session and programme with discovery and difference. Yet each programme does also share a common set of principles, aimed at ensuring that all learners experience the cumulative and lasting benefits that quality Forest School offers.
Our Forest School Curriculum
Our Forest School curriculum teaches children specific skills. Where possible, we try to link these skills to other areas of learning within the curriculum - focusing partilcuarly on Science, Geography, History, Art & Design and Design Technology. Forest School aims to reinforce learning that the children are doing in the classroom and bringing this learning outside.
Below is our Forest School progression map. For information on where learning links to specific subjects, this can be found on the subject pages.
Forest School Clothing
A part of the ethos of forest school is “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. The idea is that if sufficient, comfortable and appropriate clothing is provided, all children can enjoy the forest school experience in all weathers.
It is recommended that all children bring the following kit to change into before each forest school session;
Boots – we find that a good pair of walking boots are much better than Wellington boots. Plastic wellies offer very poor insulation and children’s feet quickly get cold. If they must wear wellies, then several pairs of socks are essential.
Long trousers – both in summer and winter, to keep warm and to protect from scratches, bites and sunburn.
Long sleeved top – both in summer and winter, to keep warm and to protect from scratches, bites and sunburn.
Layers of clothing appropriate to the temperature and the season – in winter the children will need at least three layers to keep warm. We find that long johns or pyjama trousers, trousers and the waterproof dungarees work well for their bottom half, and for the top half, a base layer, fleece, long sleeved top and waterproof jacket is a good mix. It is best to avoid cotton next to the skin as it absorbs water rather than wicking it away from the skin.
Waterproof top and trousers or a waterproof all in one suit
Hat (for sun or warmth depending on the season) and waterproof gloves.
These should be old clothes or clothes that parents/guardians do not mind getting dirty. They will get dirty.
Children should change back in to school uniform after each forest school session.
In summer, it is recommended to wear long trousers and long sleeved tops because it is cooler under the trees and they help to protect from insect bites and scratches.
We also ask that all clothing is named so that any mix up of clothing is soon rectified.