Forest School at Rowan High School…

Forest School is an inspirational process that offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop their confidence and self-esteem, through hands-on learning experiences in a natural environment.

Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within, and compliments, the wider context of outdoor education.

If you have any further questions please direct them to Mr Pennington at school who will be happy to help.

Intent

Intent Forest School is a unique method of outdoor learning. At Rowan High School our aim is to encourage and inspire children through positive outdoor experiences. Children will have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others. The children use full sized tools, play, learn boundaries of behaviour; both physical and social, establish and grow in confidence, self-esteem and become self-motivated.

Implementation

We aim to give all children a collective insight into the ethos of Forest School. Forest School builds on a child’s innate motivation and positive attitude to learning, offering them the opportunities to take risks, make choices and initiate learning for themselves. The Forest school learning environment provides opportunities for children to develop self-esteem, self-confidence, to form positive relationships with others, to develop a growing awareness of their emotional needs and the needs of others, to learn to cooperate and work with their peers and adults and to develop strategies in order to take risks within the boundaries of safety. Forest School is about exploring and experiencing the natural world through practical activities. The children go out in all weathers, all year round, exploring and learning from the seasons and environment changes. Appropriate clothing will be worn and during high winds it will be considered unsafe to go into the woods. The children’s interests along with the varied natural resources in our woodland are used to stimulate creative thinking, problem solving and skill development. One of the principles of Forest School is to promote environmental awareness and encourage sustainability. The children are taught about respect and responsibility for the world around them. Both the children and adults are encouraged to respect their environment and to be aware of conservation issues of the wild area around them. The aim is to promote respect for wildlife, which will be achieved through detailed session plans, evaluation and careful reference to our Woodland Management Plan and Ecological Impact Assessment. If appropriate, reclaimed, recycled and sustainable resources will be used to maintain and develop our forest school site. Encouraging children to care for the environment is an essential part of Forest School. In order to encourage the children to look after the site we will always leave it tidy and never damage anything growing in it. We will only collect things that are on the ground and leave the area as we found it when we leave. The Forest School Leader will monitor the site so that it does not become overused.

Impact

The success of forest school allows the 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. 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 skills. The sensory experiences provided by Forest School 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. 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. The increase in outdoor activity has a positive physical impact. Not only does the development of physical stamina improve but also gross and fine motor skills. 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. 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. 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. 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.

Curriculum Overview at Key Stage 3 and 4

Year 7 and 8:

During Year 7 and 8 students will learn how to become confident and able to make choices and plan activities for themselves. They will effectively choose their own boundaries, choose the appropriate distances and be able to identify common woodland species and talk about the relationships between them and their habitats. Students will be able to collaborate and work together, negotiating with each other and responding positively to others ideas. 

 Activities will include:-

  • Adult led and supported campfire
  • Use of simple tools, such as potato peelers to create toasting sticks
  • Cooking of simple foods
  • Making of “Tree Cookie” medals
  • Assisting adults with splitting and cutting of firewood
  • Lighting small fires, using flint and steel, to help start a communal fire
  • Basic knot tying

Year 9, 10 and 11:

Students will continue to develop with the above skills improving in the level of independence and responsibility.

Activities will include:-

  • Building more complex objects – e.g. making wooden mallets or animals
  • Shelter building with tarpaulins on site · More specialised work with wildlife – e.g. twig traps to track animals, or photography
  • Creation of more complex and advanced shelters, or group shelters
  • Building different forms or fire, or building and controlling individual fires
  • Cooking more complex items, or using a cooking stove
  • Use of more complex tools, independent/ chosen tool use
  • Creation of activities for younger children – e.g. making a treasure hunt trail
  • Fishing trip
  • Visiting more remote locations – e.g. Formby Woods – for longer periods of time
  • Using tools on offsite sessions
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