What is Forest School?
At Parkside, we try to get outdoors as much as possible! We are lucky to have a fantastic outside environment. We have woods with a woodland trail – look out for the mini-beast hotel, the log pile house, our hand-made shelters and our fire circle.
We have a lovely pond where we enjoy pond dipping and can spot pond-skaters, dragonflies, lilies and even frogs and newts in the summer. We have a large field, an adventure trail, hut, a sun shelter, two play grounds and an allotment for each class to grow fruits and vegetables. Reception class also have their very own outdoor area and hedgehog house.
We are excited that we are now able to offer each child in KS2 a block of 9 Forest School sessions each academic year as part of our Friday Carousel of activities. Each year group has their sessions at a different time of the year so, as the children progress from Year 3 to Year 6, they will have experienced a 9 week block of sessions in each season. The classes are split in half so that the maximum group size is 15; this significantly changes and improves the dynamic of the session and therefore the quality of the nature experience each child has.
All pupils in KS1 and EYFS also take part in Forest School sessions; this year from Term 4 onward. These sessions are also split so that the group size remains small. Our aim is to get every child at Parkside out into nature.
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."
We have invested in training our staff to understand the ethos and skills beyond Forest School. At Forest School, children are given memorable learning experiences through play and exploration; children learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and to use their initiative to solve problems and cooperate with others. We hope that the children will develop a respect for their environment which they will take with them into adult life.
In 2011, Forest School practitioners from across the UK agreed on six principles that form the ethos behind each Forest School session:
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.
Principle 6. Forest School uses a range of learner-centered processes to create a community for development and learning.