A Forest School is an innovative educational approach to outdoor play and learning in a woodland environment.
The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences over an extended period of time, ?The Woodlands Forest School was established in Spring 2010 and began its work in June of the same year.
Having already begun to establish an environmental edge to the curriculum through onsite lessons e.g. establishing a school garden and nature area plus off site activities such as hiking and bush craft it was felt that a Forest School would complement and support this area.
Through our Forest Schools and other environmentally-based initiatives, young people attending The Woodlands are able to develop a lifelong love and understanding of the natural environment, whilst developing the core purposes of the Forest School ethos, namely, development of self-esteem, confidence and social skills. Many of our young people have a negative view of learning within the classroom and can associate it with failure, learning outdoors gives them an opportunity to experience and develop in an environment that may be less threatening and will hopefully enthuse and reignite a passion for learning.
The philosophy which underpins the Forest School movement is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age from 3 years upwards, and any groups, through mastery of small, achievable tasks in a woodland environment, to grow in confidence and independence so that they are able to develop a sense of self-worth. Children will acquire new skills as they are ready for them so that activities can maintain a degree of challenge and excitement, whilst remaining safe and controlled.
At The Woodlands we operate our Forest School on two sites. The main focus for regular activities is within the school’s own grounds. This site was originally developed by KS3 children, trees were planted and a fire pit area is currently under development. Future plans include the construction of an outdoor classroom/shelter so that learning can take place outside at any time.
Currently the other site is located some distance from The Woodlands at Greenwell Farm in small woodland known as Snipegate Wood. This site is used for at least one Forest School Session each half-term. The freedom of this woodland allows the children the opportunity to experience remoteness and a realistic experience in which they are able to practise their skills and further develop their understanding of a woodland environment. Experience in other settings has shown Forest School to be inspirational, opinion changing and challenging. It raises expectations and develops insights into individual learning styles, emotional intelligence and schemes. It is personally and socially uplifting so laying the foundations for other learning. Unlike other forms of outdoor education which generally concentrate on team-building, challenging activities or competitiveness, the Forest School embraces an entirely different approach through the nurturing, support and development of the self-esteem of participants.