"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 Outdoor Odyssey Scheme at Fairfield Prep has three units:
- Fairfield’s Core Values
- Outdoor Skills
- Eco-awareness & Sustainability
Each year group enjoys a variety of both child-initiated and teacher-led outdoor tasks and investigations at both the forest school site and the outdoor learning area. All outdoor lessons offer high value quality outdoor learning experiences, which not only consolidate and extend classroom learning, but also offer opportunities to enhance pupils’ wellbeing and resilience, improve connection with nature, develop problem solving skills, and most importantly, provide lots of FUN!
How does the Outdoor Odyssey fit with Fairfield's core values?
The following 6 Core Values form the heart of Fairfield's teaching and learning and are intertwined into the Outdoor Odyssey scheme:
• Critical thinking
What outdoor skills will my child learn?
Five principle outdoor skills form the specialist section of the Outdoor Odyssey scheme:
• Map skills & navigation
• Shelter building
• Knots and lashing skills
• Tool skills
• Fire skills
What else will my child learn?
Caring for and preserving our outdoor environment is an important part of the Outdoor Odyssey scheme. The children learn about species and biodiversity and become fully involved in protecting the sustainability of their outdoor spaces.
Where do the sessions take place?
Outdoor lessons take place either at the Forest School site on Loughborough School Foundation's campus or at Fairfield's outdoor learning area. Both are walkable, on campus and have toilet facilities nearby.
How do you ensure safety?
All lessons are led by a qualified Forest School leader who is also outdoor first aid trained. All activities are carefully planned and risk assessed beforehand with appropriate staff-to-child ratios. Lessons take place in all weathers and so children must be suitably clothed.
How do you ensure my child is safe?
Mrs Alves, 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.
Fairfield Forest School 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 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.
How is Fairfield's Outdoor Odyssey Scheme different?
Fairfield's unique Outdoor Odyssey Scheme incorporates not only the ethos and values of the forest school approach, but also a wider array of different outdoor learning approaches such as bushcraft, environmental education, outdoor wellbeing and sustainability. The scheme also links to each year group's EYFS and National Curriculum objectives in order to consolidate and extend learning beyond the classroom.
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 cold/hot?
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)