Medway Sports Awards – Primary School of the Year – Bronze
>> FOREST SCHOOL
“People must feel that the natural world is important and valuable and beautiful and wonderful and an amazement and a pleasure.”
At Lordswood School, as part of our of Proud Traditions, Wide Horizons and High Achievement, we place a high value on allowing children to think for themselves and become independent learners (metacognition). The ethos of Forest School is based on a respect for children and their capacity to initiate, investigate and maintain curiosity in the world around them. We believe in a child’s right to play, the right to access the outdoors, experience risk in a controlled way in the natural world along with the right to develop their emotional intelligence through social interaction which in turn builds resilience for the challenges ahead.
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 local woodlands or our own natural environment. Children are encouraged to direct their own learning which is inspired by scaffolding initial activities. The most important thing is to encourage the natural curiosity present in children and to enable them to open their eyes and experience the wonders of the world around them.
Our Forest School encourages children to:
- Develop personal and social skills
- Work through practical problems and challenges
- Use tools to create and build
- Discover how they learn best
- Pursue knowledge that interests them
- Learn how to manage failure
- Build confidence in decision making and evaluating risk
- Develop practical skills
- Understand the benefits of a balanced and healthy lifestyle
- Explore connections between humans, wildlife and the earth
- Regularly experience achievement and success
- Develop language and communication skills
- Become more motivation
- Improve concentration skills
In order for the children at Lordswood to gain a deeper understanding and develop skills more effectively, we have adopted a number of strategies and tools:
- A subject blocking system with a full week or whole day focus for forest school, although with younger children, weekly activities are more beneficial.
- Planning that covers all aspects of the National Curriculum and the Early Years Statutory Framework and is carefully linked to other subject areas to create a more immersive experience for the pupils during each term. Forest School covers many areas of the curriculum for example, PE, science, PSHE etc
- Metacognitive approaches are embedded into lessons to allow the children to organise their thinking and prior knowledge, as well as giving them opportunities to question more deeply and reflect on their own learning and how they will use it moving forward.
- Teachers are encouraged to use our unique school grounds and local area as a means of developing field work skills and the children’s understanding of themselves in their environment.
- Children’s achievement is celebrated through the use of our social media platforms, WOW Work and a forest school display board.
In addition to providing in depth and engaging lessons out of the classroom, the celebration of World Forestry Day allows teachers to focus on our outdoor learning
As a school, children are encouraged to adopt our ‘Habits of Mind’ in order to be: independent, courageous, respectful, proud and to persevere with all tasks. Forest school lessons provide opportunities for the children to refine these skills.
Within the Forest School:
- Children have a choice in what activities they undertake.
- The Forest School Leader will observe the children carefully in order to plan for the next steps.
- The Forest School Leader will introduce relevant skills, knowledge and resources based on what the children are interested in and need to develop.
- The Forest School Leader set up what the children are to achieve by breaking tasks into small achievable chunks.
Tasks are open – no right or wrong way of doing things (exceptions to this are health and safety procedures).
When children leave Lordswood they have strong social skills and are able to co-operate and work well with a wide variety of different groups. They are able to use the skills learnt during forest school to work through practical problems and challenges in a systematic way. They are creative and able to use the resources available to them to achieve a goal. Interests can be pursued independently using their own methods which work best for themselves.
Our children understand that to succeed, failure must often happen first and our metacognition and forest school skills prepare them well for this. Our children are able to manage their own risk and are confident in their own decision making, although they also know how to ask for advice and support when it is needed and can do this using their strong language and communication skills. They know the importance of spending time outside to support their physical and emotional health and partake in this regularly. Our children develop an interest in the great outdoors and their local woodland environment and respect for the natural world which will stay with them throughout their lives.