What is Forest School?
At Anker Valley Primary Academy, we have a newly developed woodland area that will grow along with our new school. The Woodland Trust has enabled us to plant in excess of 60 saplings, which over time will become a beautiful haven of fruit trees and silver birches. Every child experiences weekly Forest School sessions, which are an inspirational educational experience that offers our children opportunities to develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on experiences in a natural environment.
Children are motivated by exciting and achievable activities throughout the year in almost all weathers. Forest School experiences enable children to develop an understanding of the natural world around them. They learn about seasonal changes and recognise how the environment changes over time. Forest School sessions provide opportunities for children to develop their communication, speaking, listening and team building skills alongside increasing their knowledge of the natural world and learning about trees, mammals, plants and birds. They will use tools, learn to cooperate and work with their peers and adults, developing strategies in order to take measured risks.
Forest School Leader
Our Forest Schools leader, Miss Garrett, plans activities to spark curiosity and develop life-long skills. When planning Forest School sessions, she consults with the teaching staff, providing meaningful links to our school curriculum. Our Forest School ethos is to encourage and empower the children to lead their own learning whilst the teachers support the children's questions, comments and learning, setting appropriate challenges. She ensures that all relevant risk assessments are in place and supports all staff in making effective use of the woodlands to enrich our curriculum offer.
How does Forest School Support the Curriculum?
The Forest School ethos is to be individually child focussed, which means each session is planned after the last to ensure the interests and discoveries are built upon in the next session. The sessions are planned to increase the children’s understanding of the Forest Expectations and their core skills in addition to complimenting the focus of each year group's curriculum.
Some examples of the knowledge, skills and understanding children learn during their Forest School sessions include:
- Developing relationships with each other
- Developing relationships with nature
- Confidence and perseverance
- Assessing risks and decision-making
- Using natural materials to build with and create
- Understanding fire safety
- Safely using tools
- Safety in the woodlands and looking after each other
In addition to the Forest School activities, our Forest School leader and teaching staff also plan activities that are designed to compliment and enrich the curriculum. These activities will extend the depth of understanding of a particular topic within a subject. For example, whilst learning about trees and flowers in science, Year 1 pupils explore the local area and woodlands, using identifiers to name the different trees and wild flowers in our local environment. In Reception the children used their imagination to create animals linked to traditional tales using natural resources and when learning about animals, they made animal feeders.
What does my child need for Forest School?
The weather can be very unpredictable, so we ask parents to ensure that children have a pair of wellies and a puddle suit in EYFS and Year 1 that can be kept in school. Please ensure that they are labelled with your child's name. On their Forest School session days, children should come to school in their school uniform shirt and jumper / cardigan. From Year 2 upwards, children will need a waterproof coat and trousers in addition to their wellies.