"Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the stars and the mountains above. Let them look at the waters and the trees and flowers on Earth. Then they will begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education."
The extensive Forest School at Loughborough Schools Foundation is situated on private land at the spinney behind Loughborough Grammar School. Pupils enjoy a fun activity during the short walk to the site
Children participate in engaging, motivating and achievable tasks and activities related to the curriculum, helping develop their personal, social and emotional skills, including:
- Communication skills
- Raised self-esteem
- Problem solving
- Team work
British Forest Schools have been developed and adapted from the original concept implemented in Scandinavia in the 1950’s. It was first introduced in the UK in Somerset in 1984. Since then, an ever expanding network of Forest School sites has been established across the country.
What happens at Forest School?
Children learn to dress appropriately, according to the weather, and walk to the site enjoying a ‘whizzy walk’ activity along the way. On arrival, they have circle time to introduce the session activities. There is a combination of guided and free choice investigations and activities which are linked to topics being covered in the classroom. Activities are largely child-initiated, enabling everyone to achieve at their level, and allowing targets for progression to be individualised to meet each child’s needs. Information is given in small, achievable tasks so that no-one fails, and children are encouraged to help one another. A drink and snack are provided in every session.
How do you ensure my child is safe?
Mrs Alves, Amherst and Fairfield’s Forest School leader, is a full-time, fully-qualified teacher who holds the Level 3 Forest Schools Practitioner Award. She is also qualified in outdoor first aid, has numerous other outdoor qualifications, and is studying towards an MA in Outdoor Education.
The Forest School for Fairfield and Amherst Schools is based on private land at the spinney at Loughborough Grammar School. The area is comprehensively risk assessed prior to any activities taking place, ensuring the area is as safe as necessary, rather than as safe as possible. Your child’s class teacher will accompany them to Forest School and staff-to-pupils ratios are high to ensure activities, and the location of children, are closely monitored. Children are involved in discussing safety at Forest School through rules and songs. Appropriate risk taking is encouraged at Forest School sessions to educate children in techniques to manage their own abilities and develop an understanding of what is safe to do, and what is not. When using tools, there is a structured approach to introducing equipment and staff use specific teaching methods for carrying out their intended use. Every time tools are used, the exercise is closely observed by the Forest School leader to ensure correct procedures are followed.
What about toileting?
Children visit the toilet prior to leaving school and there is access to secure toilet facilities adjacent to the site. Pupils are always accompanied by an adult.
Does the weather prevent Forest School from taking place?
No, only if it is dangerous to be outside, such as in very high winds or lightning storms. Therefore, children need to be dressed prepared for whatever the weather throws at us!
What if my child gets too hot/cold?
Supplying your child with one more layer of clothing than they might need is good idea, as they can always take layers off. Before they walk to Forest School, the weather forecast is checked so children can dress accordingly. The weather and each child’s wellbeing is closely monitored throughout each session. Spare clothing and blankets are stored in the outdoor classroom, fresh water is always available, and there is plenty of shade on site.
What are the clothing requirements?
School woolly hat, scarf & gloves
School sun hat
A thin, long sleeved top and trousers may be required dependent upon the activity
(your teacher will inform you in advance if the following are needed)
Sturdy shoes or wellingtons
Thick socks (for wellingtons)