‘There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing’
Forest School by its very nature comes with an element of risk. We provide opportunities to enhance adventure and learning in the outdoor environment that will, in turn, develop skills and confidence in each child. This may include being near a fire, climbing trees and using tools. Forest School encourages children to discover and experience at their own pace either as individuals or with their piers. Our role as Forest School practitioners is to notice and support the children and provide opportunity for them to develop their own real life experiences. We ensure children stay safe and have respect for the environment and other people. We actively support the development of the children becoming active learners.
Lesson plans are in place, but each session can be informed by the children’s experiences in the previous session. Every session includes activities that the children can choose as well as time for their own adventures.
Forest School sessions run weekly for every child throughout the year and in all weather (other than high winds, thunder and lightning). Please make sure your child has appropriate outdoor clothing with weatherproof layers and spares – just in case they get wet!
A session usually runs as follows:
- Travel to site
- Request to enter (a short chant)
- Circle time, settling in, sharing
- Green Guidelines, keeping safe, environment aware
- Idea ‘seeds’
- Free Adventure
- Gather and reflect
- Thank you and goodbye (a short chant)
Benefits of children being outdoors include:
- Physical health benefits
- Mental health benefits
- Social benefits
- Risk awareness
- Positive behaviour
‘What is Forest School?’ – adapted from ‘Forest School Norfolk – A guide for practitioners’ (2009)
FSA (Forest School Association) Norfolk www.fsanorfolk.wix.com/fsan
More information about the Forest School approach www.forestschoolassociation.org
More information about the importance of play www.playwales.org.uk
Forest School at the Blue Sky Federation
Forest School is a style of outdoor learning where the whole child is considered, including developing self esteem and resilience. Forest School by its very nature comes with an element of risk. We wish to offer opportunities to enhance adventure and education in the outdoor environment that will, in turn, develop skills and confidence in each child. This may include being near a fire and using sharp tools.
Forest School encourages children to learn and find things out on their own or from their piers. The role of the adult is to support the children in their adventures and journeys in nature, providing opportunity to experience considered risk whilst keeping safe.
Every child across the federation has access to Forest School either for a morning or an afternoon every week throughout the whole school year.
All our Forest School sessions are run by fully qualified and experienced Forest School Level 3 leaders and supported by Forest School Level 1 and Level 2 practitioners. We also have an experienced body of volunteers who are also qualified Forest School practitioners.
How a Forest School session runs:
- The Forest School leader carries out a risk assessment prior to the children being in the woodland and continues to risk assess dynamically throughout the session, taking into consideration weather conditions.
- Children get changed ready for Forest School.
- Make our way to the woodland, sharing carrying equipment within the group.
- Say a chant to request to enter the woodland, encourage children to tune into the sounds of nature.
- Make our way to basecamp with the campfire and circle of logs.
- Collect sticks and make a fire (if required as part of the session or to keep warm).
- Start the session by sharing our Forest School names, how we are feeling and our Green Guidelines. (Green Guidelines are like rules to keep us safe, but the children are given responsibility to think about what they might be and share them within the group.)
- The Forest School leader shares a seed or activity to engage the children in exploring and experiencing the natural environment
- The children have opportunity for Free Adventure, to discover and explore in their own unique way, adults are on hand to support where needed.
- The children have access to a warm drink in winter and a cold drink in summer which is shared at base camp mid way through session, this is also an opportunity to hear about the children’s activities and how we can facilitate them.
- On several occasions throughout the school year, children have access to food cooked over a fire, such as damper bread, muffins and soups. Some of the ingredients, such as nettles the children will source themselves.
- At the end of the session the children gather together, share their experiences, help to tidy up, say a thank you chant and head back to school.
- Older children within the school keep a Forest School journal, where they log their experiences by writing, drawing pictures, sticking items in they have found and photos.
A full copy of the Forest School handbook and risk assessments are kept in the Forest School Handbook at both Erpingham and Northrepps Primary Schools.
The Blue Sky Federation follow the Forest School Association six principles to ensure good quality Forest School is achieved.
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-centred processes to create a community for development and learning.