Early Years Curriculum - Forest School
Forest School in Early Years
Forest School follows six key principles
- Forest School is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than one-off or infrequent visits; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation and review links eachsession
- Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a lifelong relationship between the learner and the natural world
- Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community where development and learning is intrinsic
- Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners
- Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves
- Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners, who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice
Forest School Association (2020)
The aim of Forest School is to promote independence and the holistic development of our pupils while also linking to the seven areas of development and learning in the Early Years curriculum framework. Pupils are also learning about road safety when transitioning to the Forest School site which is a fifteen-minute walk from school. We also aim for pupils to feel comfortable in a public space, understand and appreciate the woodland setting and expand their vocabulary through the new varied experiences Forest School offers.
Shannon Rosier is the level 3 qualified Forest School practitioner and is supported by Bryn Watkinson who is a level 2 qualified Forest School practitioner. Sessions take place at Highwood Nature Reserve which is a short walk from school and pupils are working on their road safety skills, independence and enjoy being part of the local community. When in the woods the pupils have time to explore a secure gated area before doing more focused activities which can include: muddy puddle walks, chalk mark-making, bark rubbing, small tool use, forest school safety songs (linking to phonics stage 1), following trails, matching flora and fauna to tick sheets, shelter building, rope ladders and swings. Pupils then practice their life skills by following hygiene routines, e.g., washing hands and faces before outdoor snack time. The final part of Forest School sessions are a review and recap of what the pupils have done and for our pupils this can be finding an object to show or talk about, reviewing a visual timetable of the session and asking simple questions about what they have enjoyed.
The benefits from Forest School sessions that have been reported by staff include: increased vocabulary through natural curiosity in the new environments, more confident pupils who are happy and relaxed when mixing with different classes and staff. The pupils have given feedback that they have enjoyed exploring the woods and seeing animals in their natural environments. They have also enjoyed following stories about the woodland and developing their imagination – especially the Dragon who lives in Highwood! Parents have also reported that they feel more confident taking their children out in the community as their children have grown in independence and safety awareness as a result of Forest School. Forest School has also promoted and extended the play based approach of Early Years and introduced diverse scenarios for role pay opportunities and these have been transferred to lessons in school.