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Forest School at Milwards Primary School and Nursery

This is the best kind of classroom,
It’s a journey through time and space,
From the smallest seed to the largest tree,
This is a forest and a learning place.

This is the best kind of classroom,
Where the seasons don’t happen in books.
Where the learning is watching and thinking and talking
And everyone looks.

(Quote from ‘The best Kind of Classroom’ by Ian MacMillan)

What is Forest School?

Forest School has been developed from the outdoor based education system in Scandinavia.  It is all about children building self-esteem, independence and skills through exploring the natural world, thus countering the modern trend for children to have little contact with the natural world during their education and free play.  Essentially, Forest School is an outdoor classroom.

The ethos of Forest School allows learners the time and space to develop skills, interests and understanding through practical, ‘real life’ experiences.  It particularly appeals to children who learner by experiences and those who find it hard to sit still and concentrate in the classroom setting. 

We have chosen to incorporate Forest School into Milwards School as we feel it will benefit the children in the following ways -

*Health and fitness – being active in an outdoor, natural environment

*Emotional well-being – research indicates that Forest School increases wellbeing

*Social development – children will learn to communicate and negotiate with adults and peers to solve problems and share experiences

*Skill development – opportunity to develop fine and gross motor skills and co-ordination for real purposes

*Gain knowledge and understanding – offers a multi-sensory experience and real life learning

*Unique child – careful observation allows adults to tailor support to the children’s own interests and stage of development.  The children can learn and develop at their own pace

*Curriculum links – Forest Schools compliments the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and the National Curriculum (especially Science, Geography and PSCHE)

Risks and Hazards

Naturally, Forest School activities involve a level of risk. The health and safety of both the children and adults involved is central to the whole programme. Therefore, numerous risk assessments will be carried out prior to each session.  A hazard represents anything which could present a potential danger.  The severity of such danger combined with the probability of harm occurring produces a risk rating. 

For lots of activities, the risk rating can be significantly reduced by taking appropriate safety precautions. For example, by giving clear instructions and demonstrations, modelling good, safe practise, 1:1 supervision and discussing the risks with the children. 

Furthermore, ‘risky’ activities will only be introduced when the children are ready and the boundaries are fully established.  If the risk rating is deemed too high, the activity will not be carried out.  

Ultimately, in Forest School, children are encouraged and supported in learning to recognise and manage risk for themselves, a very important life skill that they can take with them into adulthood. 

We have several trained first aiders in school should we require further assistance during a session. An appropriate First Aid kit and accident record book will be taken to all forest school sessions.  

Quotes from children

"Forest School was fun and exciting and I'd love to do it again" - Sarah Snake, Year 5

"I learnt that you can make things out of nature and out of old things" - Brooke Buttercup, Year 3

"Forest School was amazing because you can learn new things. It was lovely being outside and finding out new things" - Annie Antelope, Year 5

"I liked Forest School. It made me feel happy" - Regan Rain, Year 4

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