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Forest School is led by Helen Stringfellow and the Forest School team: Paul Hemmings (our site manager), Lisa Murphy and parent volunteers. 32 children are chosen each term over the 6 terms of the year enabling all children to take part at least once during the year. They visit our marsh once a week and work together learning new skills. These include: using tools to do green woodworking to make name disks and charcoal pencils, learning how to lay and light fires to make charcoal, boil water and cook on, planting willow whips for future green woodworking resources, as well as bird watching and identification with a local bird enthusiast.
We have strong links with local secondary schools and FLESS who send pupils to volunteer alongside our committed team. The school is based on a Bronze Age heritage site and Forest School honours this history through its choice of activities.
Children and adults alike have made new connections with nature and the outdoor environment; visiting the marsh each week for a sustained period of time, whatever the weather, is challenging, character building and fun! They can experience working in sub-zero temperatures, warm sun, howling wind and knee deep mud, however the enthusiasm and enjoyment of the group never wanes.
History of Forest Schools:
The Forest School initiative originated in Sweden in the 1950s, it has since developed throughout Scandinavian and European countries. In 1995 Bridgwater College in Somerset, introduced Forest Schools to the UK.
Ethos of Forest Schools:
The ethos of Forest schools is based on developing self-esteem, confidence, independence and responsibility in children of all ages and ability. It is achieved through inspirational, stimulating, hands –on, outdoor experiences in an outdoor environment, using tools and natural resources to bring learning to life.
Its aim is to enhance, expand and add to classroom learning and to foster a positive attitude towards learning. It teaches children to safely evaluate risks for themselves, consider others and take responsibility. It also encourages self-motivation and the ability to work independently, as well as skills such as: teamwork, co-operation, problem
solving and resourcefulness.
There is now an increasing body of evidence to show that Forest School experiences enhance all areas of children’s development.
The Forest Schools Programme aims to provide a variety of stimulating activities, that allow the children to take managed risk and use tools they would not normally have access to. At West Rise’s Forest School we offer a wide range of activities and experiences for the children; these can also incorporate a topic related focus, where
Examples of Activities:
- Fire building and lighting. Campfire cooking
- Making hot drinks with a Kellie Kettle
- Shelter building – miniature, individual, group
- Clay pots/houses
- Bird watching and identification
- Pond dipping
- Trust/team building games
- Ecology games
- Nature identification and conservation
Woodcraft activities i.e.–
- Name tags
- Mallet making
- Butter knife
- Viking knitting
- Tent pegs
- Charcoal pencils
Example of tools used at Forest School:
- Fire steels
- Kelly kettle