What we believe for our curriculum
It is our intention that every pupil, irrelevant of needs, develops a real passion for the great outdoors. They should celebrate their local, natural environment. We wish for every child to use the outdoors to build self-esteem, be given the freedom to experiment and to thrive from taking appropriate risks.
Through Forest School we aim to support this philosophy by:
Fostering the enjoyment of the great outdoors;
Embracing the physical challenges that working outside can bring;
Developing both fine and gross motor skills;
Developing personal and social skills by working in teams to complete tasks;
Developing a range of Forest School skills. Skills include knot tying, frapping, fire lighting, lashing and whittling.
Developing a knowledge of local common flora and fauna;
Fostering an awareness of seasonal change;
Developing problem solving and resilience through practical tasks such as den building;
Ensuring children develop an understanding of keeping safe;
Encouraging children to be active and have a healthy lifestyle.
Encouraging pupils’ to get involved with practical tasks. These tasks improve their attention span, persistence and commitment. This will impact on learning in other areas too.
Ensuring that the learning is matched to the differing needs of all the children as well as groups. (SEND, pupil premium etc.) Extra support and additional/ adapted resources to be provided to those children where it is required.
Our onsite 'Hollow' is used to give a context to learning across the whole curriculum. Children explore shadows and wind in Science. They make ink and charcoal in Art. Pupils use of tools for DT and brewing and tasting herbal teas and inspiration for writing and poetry.
We know that children learn best when the curriculum is well sequenced to enable revisiting of core knowledge, skills and understanding. This deepens conceptual awareness before demanding application across the whole curriculum. Please see the Forest School Progression of Skills documents. The grid outlines how the key skills are developed, revisited, assessed and built upon during Foundation to Year 6
How we put our aims into daily practice
All classes participate in Forest School activities. This may be pure Forest School sessions run by a Level 3 qualified Forest School practitioner or curriculum linked learning. Each week the Reception class spend 1 morning in the Forest School and Years 1 to 4 spend 1 afternoon a week for a least a term.
Regular training of both teaching and non-teaching staff allows for all children to receive a quality session. All staff understand the potential learning opportunities this resource has to offer. Forest School sessions happen whatever the weather – as the saying goes “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!” – the only exemptions being strong winds and heavy snow due to safety.
Forest School sessions are planned to involve a mixture of both adult led and child initiated activities. Adult led tasks may involve the teaching and application of pure Forest School skills. Children are taught fire lighting, plant identification or whittling. The teaching of any area of the school curriculum enhances the outdoor learning environment. Children gain inspiration for writing or mini-beast hunts in Science. Forest School provides opportunities for all learners to exceed and excel. Children can excel socially and emotionally as well in their curriculum studies.
We are successful because
1-Since 2018 we raised the profile of Forest School. KS1 data shows that Holbrook are consistently above national expectation at all levels. We know that Forest School sessions have a positive affect on learner attitudes through our pupil perception work... a Year 2 pupil told us, "it helps me to sit still and listen more.". The impact on our improving KS2 results is also demonstrated by what our pupils tell us. One Year 5 pupils said "Forest School teaches me how to look after wildlife and gives me more independence". Another said, "Forest School helps me to concentrate more in other subjects". Other schools in our local area have heard about our successful practice and are inquiring about CPD sessions with us.