Intent - What are we trying to achieve?
At YFPS we believe in developing learning through outdoor spaces and we have amazing grounds which offer a rich environment where children shape their character and resilience. All areas of the curriculum are taught around the school and where possible, lessons are outdoors. Our weekly Forest School sessions are designed to give children the excitement and enjoyment of nature by developing lasting memories.
Implementation - How will we achieve this?
We have a cycle of six-week blocks across the year so that each class can experience the challenges of the outdoors and to ensure we have continuity and progression across the school. Activities are planned to dovetail with year-group topics and are always flexible to meet the needs of the specific class.
Children work to build bat boxes, dens, bug hotels and clear out the pond as well as ensuring our gardening area is well tended. We have many volunteers who help to ensure children can take appropriate risks with well-trained adults around to support them. Each class will also experience toasting marshmallows on the camp fire and the camaraderie that it creates.
Impact - What difference will this make?
Case studies report that children who have a regular forest school opportunity can:
Forest School can increase a child’s confidence and self-esteem through exploration, problem solving, and being encouraged to learn how to assess and take appropriate risks depending on their environment. The use of learner-led outcomes means information is retained better and also generally increases curiosity and motivation to learn in general. This motivation can have a positive impact on attitude to learning in school.
Previously ‘quiet’ children have been shown to improve in their confidence and communication to work with others, and children who were initially un-cooperative learnt that sharing and working together had positive consequences – and increasingly did this (Murray & O’Brien, 2005). Sessions with mixed ages or year groups can allow interactions between older and younger children that do not normally come into contact – allowing opportunities for children to learn from and teach each other. (All subject to COVID restrictions at present.)
Learners also gain a respect for nature through many small interactions and noticing changes around them through the seasons. Providing students with an opportunity to appreciate the wider, natural world encourages a responsibility for nature conservation in later life.