Forest School

Forest-School sits in a unique place within the school timetable. Being a child led, responsive programme, it does not follow a structured, progressive system in the same way that a traditional curriculum subject would. Indeed, it would be counterproductive to impose such a traditional structure on it; it is an experience more akin to a therapeutic intervention than a traditional subject. The progress of a session, or series of sessions, will depend on the moods and enthusiasms of the children involved, chance events and encounters during the session, and the maturity and age of the children. In addition, children should not be expected or forced to participate in each activity or given a level of expectation of what they will achieve.

In practical terms, this would mean that a child would not be told that they will be learning to climb trees or told they must climb to a given height. This imposes a definition of success, and subsequently the chance of failure. A child presented with the opportunity of tree climbing may choose to join in, or to pursue another interest. Anything they achieve will be their choice and their own achievement, and the more powerful and valuable experience for that.

That said, the types of experiences made available for the children, the broad expectations of how they may engage and behave on sessions and the amount of independence and responsibility given to the children by staff will alter and develop as they progress through the school; a year one pupil will experience Forest-School sessions in a different way to a year six pupil, albeit sharing a similar fundamental experience. This overview seeks to establish a broad framework for the delivery of Forest School and ensure that the children gain full benefit from the sessions.

Forest School continues to take a key role in the curriculum, growing from the belief that children learn through discovery, exploration and curiosity. With the recent pandemic causing many children to be inside with their parents, there are naturally huge mental health benefits. As a school, we are always talking about educating the child as a whole and tailoring the education to suit the children.

Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning and as such, is not thought of in individual topics. Here at St Joseph’s we know the skills that the children will be learning throughout the year in line with these simple principles;

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. Planning, adaptation, observations, and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.

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.

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