Forest School Overview at Hambleton Primary Academy
What is Forest School?
Forest School was originally a Scandinavian concept, created to counter a lack of indoor space for pre-school children. In 1993, a group of Nursery Nurses from Bridgewater College in Somerset visited Denmark to develop an understanding of their early year’s settings. The staff were impressed with the focus on learning outdoors through play and how child centred the activities were.
When the staff returned to England, they started to implement what they had seen into their own setting at the college crèche. The staff noticed the children became more creative and were able to scaffold skills and ideas. The nursery nurses were spurred on from the success and created their own version of Forest School.
Two years later, in 1995 Bridgewater College created its first program and qualification in Forest School. This was popular and specifically offered to Early Years practitioners. Following on from this, popularity grew across The United Kingdom (UK) and in 2000 The Forest School Alliance many local authorities introduced Forest School.
The Ethos of Forest School
The ethos of Forest School is based on a fundamental respect for children and for their capacity to instigate, test and maintain curiosity in the world around them. It believes in children's right to play; the right to access the outdoors, the right to access risk and the vibrant reality of the natural world. A wealth of research supports the beliefs and benefits of Forest School for children.
Forest School at Hambleton
At Hambleton we allow children to access the woodland areas during break time and lunchtime, as well as during Forest School Sessions.
During break times children can explore the woodland (a wild, yet safe and risk assessed area) this includes climbing trees and creating games around natural resources, such as sticks and trees. This type of play helps child assess and manage their own risk as well as use their imagination to create games, the possibilities are limitless.
We are passionate about encouraging outdoor learning and Forest School at Hambleton and the aims of the sessions are to inspire, encourage, motivate and engage children. Sessions are a process which is built upon and should encourage holistic development, confidence and skills, such as risk management and a knowledge of the environment.
Forest School will take place behind the Early Years Outdoor Area. This site is in development. The site has a Dead Wood Ring and a Forest School Shed. The ratio of adults is 1:6 and sessions will take place on a Tuesday in the afternoon.
Forest School will be offered to every child throughout the year from 1 - 6. The experience is for 1 ½ hours per week, for at least a term or equivalent over their school year. This will be rotated to give children the opportunity to experience the changing seasons. In addition to Forest schools we encourage outdoor cross curricular learning throughout the school.
To enable the successful operating of Forest School, key stakeholders (Head teacher, Teachers, Teaching Assistants, Governors, Parents) will be informed of the aims, objectives and outcomes in a variety of ways periodically throughout the year. Staff training will be offered in 2019 and a parental engagement workshop in 2019/2020.
Part of Forest School is teaching children about caring for the environment in a variety of ways from creating habitats to using non-native species for craft activities. There is a woodland management plan in place, with objectives to minimise the impact of activities on the site. We aim to balance the benefits the woodland provides the children with care for the environment. We will be developing the site in 2019-20 to include a fully separate Forest School site.
Forest School Golden Rules
- We always try to be kind to each other and look after each other.
- We always listen to everyone’s ideas and show mutual respect.
- We look after our tools and equipment.
- We are respectful to plants and animals.
- We are sensible with tools and always put these back at the Tool Tree.
- We look after ourselves and clean our hands after touching plants or animals, after going to the toilet or before having our snack.
- We don’t pick any plants or flowers unless we are told we can
- We don’t put anything in our mouths.
- We always manage the risk of an activity.
- We always come back when we hear “1, 2, 3 Come back to me”
- If the whistle is blown three times, there is an emergency and everyone must gather together immediately
- We stay within the area of our Forest School.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Leader and Assistants
Forest School is carried out with an adult to child ratio of at least 1:6, but additional adult support will be provided where appropriate for children who have disability or SEN needs.
A separate activity risk assessment has been completed for each activity. (See Risk Assessments)
All staff and helpers supporting the Forest School leader are DBS checked.
All staff and adults involved in Forest Schools, are required to sign and date a form to show that they have read this handbook, appropriate risk assessments and understand to comply with the safety guidelines.