Our Forest School approach was founded in 2008 because we really wanted our children, who are growing up in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to learn more about their surroundings and develop a lifelong enjoyment of being in the Great Outdoors.
We don't buy Forest School in from external providers: over the years, the school has invested in training staff to be able to provide Forest School themselves by sending them on Level 3 Forest School Leader Training and associated Emergency Care courses. This means that our programme can be delivered in-house and there is a much stronger link between what is happening in the classroom and in the Forest School.
We have two types of Forest School areas:
Each school has its own, on-site Forest School and is used by school every week of the term-time year. The areas hold one class at a time and has a fire pit, seating for up to 35 people, a wood store, bug hotel and activity space. Woolsery's area is supplemented by our nearby Yurt which can seat a full class in a circle or small groups around tables in the centre whilst Parkham has an outdoor covered seating area.
Our second area is a remote piece of broadleaf woodland which the Partnership uses for Forest School Days Out where our children can explore a larger wood and take part in larger-scale projects than is possible on our school sites. We are very proud of our connection with Clovelly Estates who make this area exclusively available to us. This means we can leave dens and other Forest School creations up when the area is not in use.
We have developed our own Forest Schools Skills Progression document which helps structure the underlying content of Forest School sessions:
Forest School Skills Development
In addition, we draw on the National Curriculum Design and Technology expectations for content of practical project in the outdoors whenever we can.
Forest School is regulated by our Forest School Handbook which was developed at the inception of our Forest School site, along with our colleagues and trainers at Bridgwater College. If is updated periodically and contains relevant risk assessments and policies for our entire Forest School programme:
We are very happy for other developing Forest Schools to use our materials to enhance their own Forest School provision. An editable format can be supplied on request. However, we ask that you acknowledge Woolsery Primary School as the original source of this material. Thank you.
Many benefits of Forest School are unseen: they are around developing the whole child and allowing all children to success and shine with different talents that may not be as visible in the classroom environment.Sometimes children develop leadership qualities in Forest School; all children develop the ability to assess and manage their own risks and look out for the safety of others.
Forest School outcomes vary between the seasons and are very weather dependent. In school, we hold a collection of albums featuring the childrens' work and their own reflections of their time in Forest School. But to see our outcomes in action, visit our Blog pages where there ar elots of examples of Forest School activites over the years: