Forest school was introduced to the school for the academic year 2014/15, with a view to providing an outdoor education environment for those who may struggle to access the curriculum in more formal ways. The programme covers all key stages within the school, and the curriculum has developed into an effective part of the school's education and therapy ethos.
The forest school programme has been developed to incorporate a number of curriculum links. In most activities these links are 'hidden' as this approach can help to relieve any formal curriculum anxieties. Undertaking the forest school programme can also help learners' to develop a better understanding of their core subjects by providing activities that are functional e.g. if a learner is struggling with an element of maths such as measure, shape & space, they can improve their functional comprehension of this when designing & building A frame, and lean to shelters.
The Aim of Forest School
The aim of forest school is to deliver education in an outdoor environment, with a view to providing activities that are inclusive to all participants.
- To provide access to the formal academic curriculum through 'hidden/informal' activities.
- To provide a safe, positive and enjoyable learning environment.
- To develop each participant's self-esteem.
- To develop key skills such as communication, working with others and problem solving.
- To improve team cohesion, and develop risk assessing skills.
- There are many activities that can be conducted in forest school sessions. Here are a few.
- Making a hot drink using a Kelly Kettle.
- Fire safety, building, lighting & extinguishing.
- Making resources such as tent pegs.
- Erecting shelters - using tarpaulins.
- Building natural shelters.
- Making tools such as mallets & small axes.
Links to the curriculum
Developing forest school diaries, which require descriptions and evaluations.
Measuring wood to build a shelter. Calculating the space required to accommodate a specific number.
Assessing the weather and preparing appropriately for each session.
Learning about the different trees within the forest and knowing the history of specific growth such as elder.
Using ICT to create a diary including pictures and instruction manuals.
Building items such as tools and shelters.
Understanding the fire triangle and using flint, steel & magnesium to start a fire.
Steve Nolan - Forest school coordinator & lead instructor
Due to Steve's military background and his love of the outdoors, it was deemed appropriate for him to become our Forest school instructor. As coordinator he is responsible for the planning, preparing, delivering and reviewing of all activities. Steve also provides training to other members of staff who support forest school sessions.
Duke of Edinburgh
We are delighted to report that the Duke of Edinburgh’s bronze award currently running at our school has been very successful. All six Year 11 boys have shown total commitment and determination to complete their individual tasks.
During last year, we applied to become a Local Operating body to deliver ‘The DofE Award’. We then formed a school DofE committee and selected five Year 11 pupils who we believed had the ability and determination to succeed in a bronze award. All five boys have completed their expedition phase and have also completed a few individual tasks. The boys were presented their Bronze DofE award at Sports day!
Each pupil was required to select three activities within the physical, skills and voluntary sections and had to do these activities consistently for 1-hour per week over 3-months, one of which had to be 6-months (not an easy requirement!). Tyler, chose running, brick laying and volunteered at Oxfam in Stamford. Brendan chose kayaking, car mechanics and volunteered at the Ashwell canal. Oliver chose American football, piano playing and volunteered at Equata horse therapy centre. Luke chose kayaking, bricklaying and volunteered at Age UK. Scott chose gym work, woodwork and volunteered at the Ashwell canal.
The boys have shown tremendous effort, resilience and commitment to do the tasks to the end. It has now been easy! The school staff and parents are extremely proud of them. We also look forward to seeing the younger pupils recognising this achievement and putting themselves forward to complete a very worthwhile and world-wide recognised qualification.