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Forest School & Outdoor Learning

In January 2022 we launched 'The Hive', the school's very own forest school site in collaboration with the FOSUA. 
 
What is forest school?
 
Forest School is a child-centred inspirational learning process, that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions. It is a long-term program that supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting.
 
Forest School has a developmental ethos shared by thousands of trained practitioners around the world, who are constantly developing their learning styles and skills to support new and imaginative learners. Its roots reach back to the open-air culture, friluftsliv, or free air life, seen as a way of life in Scandinavia where Forest School began. It arrived in the UK in 1993 and has grown from strength to strength since then and we are delighted to be implementing this fantastic approach here at St Uny CE Academy. 
 
Pupil Voice
 
"Forest school makes me feel alive!"
 
"It is my favourite time of the week!"
 
"I loved making fires using batteries and wire wool"
 
"I feel connected with nature when I leave forest school"
 
"I have learnt so many new skills"
 
"Forest school makes me so so so happy!"
The Benefits of Forest School
 

1) Confidence

Forest School helps children to grow in confidence as a result of the freedom, time and space they are given in their learning. This allows them to demonstrate independence at each individual child’s rate.

2) Social skills

Activities such as sharing tools and participating in play help teach the children to work together as a group, which strengthens their bonds and social ties.

3) Communication

The sensory experiences provided by Forest School’s helps prompt language development. Improving communication skills has a positive effect on a child’s self-esteem and is a crucial part of their development. 

4) Motivation and concentration

High levels of interest lead to high levels of attention. Spending time in the woodland is exciting for a child. It tends to fascinate them which develops a strong will to participate and concentrate over long periods of time.

5) Physical skills

The increase in outdoor activity is bound to have a positive physical impact. Not only does the development of physical stamina improve but also gross and fine motor skills.

6) Knowledge and understanding

Children develop an interest in the great outdoors and respect for the environment. Encouraging children to develop a relationship with the natural world will help in protecting the environment for generations to come.

7) New perspectives

Forest School isn’t just beneficial to children it is also beneficial to teachers. Observing their class in a different setting allows them to gain a new perspective and understanding of their class.

8) Ripple effects

When children really engage with Forest Schools they will take their experiences home to share with friends and family. This will often encourage families to visit their local woodlands more frequently.

9) Levels the playing field

Taking children outside of the classroom removes the pressures of academia and allows them to play to their strengths. This is beneficial to children who struggle in the classroom because there is more of an opportunity for them to learn at their own pace.

10) Enjoyable for the children

Forest Schools are fun! It is educational whilst also allowing children to play, explore and discover. Children who participate in Forest Schools are generally observed to be happier. The fresh air, the excitement, getting mucky – it doesn’t get child friendlier than that.

SEND Provision at Forest School
 
At our forest school, every forest school teacher is committed to meeting the educational needs of all our pupils through the provision of challenging and exciting experiences. We celebrate their diversities and differences by embracing an inclusive ethos throughout the school. We recognise that quality learning takes place when we motivate pupils, promote their self-esteem and develop the skills and aptitudes they require to enable them to make their way as lifelong learners.
 
Here at forest school we believe that, sometimes, the best way to get the most out of the classroom is to leave it and take learning outside. Forest school can make for happier, healthier, well-rounded students – particularly for those with special educational needs (SEND).
 
Some children with SEND can struggle to engage with some lessons inside the classroom and through research it has been found that the outdoors relieves stress and anxiety, develops social skills, motivates learning across the curriculum (and beyond) and allows them to be practical, responsible and productive members of the community.
 
Here at our forest school, we believe in giving SEND students a feeling of space, and the sensory stimulation that comes with being outdoors. This is absolutely vital.
 
Our Forest School Statement of Intent
 

The ethos of Forest School at St Uny Academy is based on a respect for children and their capacity to initiate, investigate and maintain curiosity in the world around them. It believes in a child's right to play; the right to access the outdoors (and in particular a woodland environment); the right to experience risk in a controlled way in the natural world along with the right to develop their emotional intelligence through social interaction, building a resilience to enable creative engagement with their peers and their potential.

 

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 a woodland or natural environment with trees and other natural resources. Children who struggle learning indoors are often able to develop new ways of learning and coping with the world. Forest School is based on the process of learning - more on the 'how' than the 'what'. Forest School practice embraces collaborative, unexpected and ultimately unlimited learning. Children are encouraged to direct their own learning - this is often inspired by our Forest School leader either through stimulating play in the outdoors or through 'scaffolding' a child's learning, but mostly through simply observing how children are in the outdoors. 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.

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