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Leigh Primary School

Forest School


Forest School is delivered on a Friday afternoon in the school wood. Timetable of dates for each class can be found in the Calendar. When Your child is scheduled to take part in Forest School we ask that they bring in clothes and footwear which is suitable for the weather. Waterproof trousers and wellies are recommended in the winter as the site becomes very muddy.Forest SchoolForest school activities are child-led but we do offer a range of springboard activities which are often inspired by the topics of each class. Highlights this year have included:Physical Challenges such as building bridges, making bows and arrows, Building Dens, Creating Castles.Natural discoveries, Finding newts in the pond, exploring the texture of a tree, tasting fresh nettle pesto, making the perfume of the wood in a smellorama and listening to the sounds of the wood in our barefoot yoga activities.Personal challenge, we have cast pewter, climbed trees, walked further than before. Tasted new food cooked over the fire and used tools we didn't know we knew how to use, (But we do now!)Competitive challenge; We have pitted ourselves against each other and nature, through strategic games such as claim the flag and Head honcho.Creative endeavours: we have made spinning tops, dream catchers, land art and hapa zome all using the natural materials from the wood.A leaflet outlining what Forest School means can be downloaded below and a Forest School Handbook gives comprehensive details of how the Forest School operates here at Leigh Primary School.  Pictures of the children's activities can be found in the Gallery section of this website. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the Forest School project funded?

We have received money via the PE and Sports Grant to fund improvements to the provision of PE and sport, for the benefit of pupils aged 5-11 years old, so that all pupils develop healthy lifestyles.

So How is Forest School Supporting PE?

The new Curriculum for PE asks schools to provide in both Key Stages “an opportunity for Pupils to develop and master fundamental movement skills, become increasingly competent and confident and access a broad range of opportunities to extend their agility, balance and co-ordination, individually and with others.

They should be able to engage in competitive (both against self and against others) and co-operative physical activities, in a range of increasingly challenging situations.

Pupils should be taught to master basic movements including running, jumping, throwing and catching, as well as developing balance, agility and coordination, and begin to apply these in a range of activities, participate in team games, developing simple tactics for attacking and defending. Apply and develop a broader range of skills, learning how to use them in different ways and to link them to make actions and sequences of movement.

They should enjoy communicating, collaborating and competing with each other. They should develop an understanding of how to improve in different physical activities and learn how to en valuate and recognise their own success. In Ks 2 they take part in outdoor and adventurous activity challenges both individually and within a team”

At Forest School we play a range of collaborative and individual games which support and develop these physical skills as well as tactics which support team games. We offer tool work which develops both fine and gross motor skills and have a range of physical obstacles such as the climbing tree, seesaw and rope swing which challenge their agility and balance alongside developing risk assessment skills.

We work on core skills such as running and jumping on challenging terrain offering different child specific challenges.

Why does Leigh Primary School use Forest School Approach?

We identified that although as a school we provided a good range of sports provision we were not providing opportunities for other outdoor activities. We therefore have decided to use the funding to support Physical Exercise through forest school.

Forest School is run once a week by a qualified professional who supports the children’s physical development and engagement with healthy lifestyles by providing opportunities for the children to test their own boundaries and physical capabilities while developing new skills.

Forest School

The ethos of Forest School allows each session to support individual children’s needs which in turn gives them a sense of well-being and belonging which has led to children being more confident in having a go in class. The element of risk-taking afforded by Forest School has meant that children are making healthier behaviour choices in the playground.

Since Forest School sessions have been delivered the following outcomes have been noted:

·Increase in attendance

·New skills being developed

·Increase in self-confidence of pupils

·A interest and willingness in being outdoors engaging in physical activity

     ·Greater capacity for teamwork within the classroom

How and what do the children learn through forest school?

Forest school is a child-led kinaesthetic learning experience. The Forest School Team at each session set up a range of activities which are linked to either the topic or a skill area that the class teacher has identified as needing work (such as negotiation, listening skills fine motor skills or management of energy levels) At the beginning of the session the activities are outlined and each child explores these activities throughout the session. The child determines the rate, direction, depth and breadth of their learning. Some activities will lead to unset tasks. For example, a child who was looking for ingredients for their potion while taking part in a Harry Potter topic found a slow worm in one of our insect viewing areas and spent the rest of the session observing the slow worm and its habitat.

The children are encouraged to revisit both skills and projects they have completed in previous weeks to see how time and the environment have had an effect on them and also to ensure that their learning is secure.

How does Forest School Link with the curriculum?

The activities at forest school are designed to complement the topic which the class is studying. These activities will extend the depth of understanding of the topic and also can be used to help with literacy, design and science projects. For example, activities had included:

Squirrels: We used the obstacles at forest school to build an assault course so the children could examine movement and what their bodies could do. We also used the insect viewing areas to examine how insect moved

Robins: Have been using the elements they are exposed to in forest school to support their development of poems and language.

Foxes: Foxes developed a survival camp whilst learning about natural disasters

Hedgehogs: We used their sessions to develop ideas and inspire writing meeting the elvish Gnics

Hawks: Hawks examined states as part of their science topic, casting pewter in cuttlefish.

Wolves: Wolves extended their Victorian learning by building their own toys like Victorian children did.

How is science and nature taught at forest school?

We encourage exploration of the site at forest school and have many insect viewing areas. When using natural materials we always talk about it origins and characteristics. The children are gradually learning the name of the plants up at forest school and their uses. They see the site a different times of the year and are getting an understanding of the effect of the seasons and their use on the environment.

We also do more formal activities which are nature or science specific. This has included examining forces, looking at pigments, looking at soil structure and why flooding occurs, animal and plant identification and management of the habitat by planting, addressing invasive species and making things like bird feeders to support the residents of the wood.

In the summer term we also open up the pond area which is a rich habitat for the children to explore taking part in pond dipping and wetland life identification.

How else does Forest school help my child?

The activities at forest school are design to improve the children’s resilience and self-confidence. The children are expected to have a go at everything and the adults will support them but not complete the task for them. We have seen a marked improvement in children’s ability to attempt an activity and articulate the kind of help they need rather than just saying “I can’t do this”. We have a limited number of tools and this means that the children need to use good communication and negotiation skills, we have also noticed an improvement in this area since we have been running Forest School. Team work skills are also developed as a number of the activities and tools require team work.

The children have learnt to listen carefully to instructions and now follow a wide range of complicated yet necessary protocols. They have developed an awareness of others needs and risk assessment skills.

The tool work we do helps with fine and gross motor skills which in turn supports handwriting.  Even walking up to Forest School is starting to develop their awareness of other’s needs and their place in the community. Forest school has helped children work, learn and play with a wider range of children and shows the class teacher how they work in a different environment which can then be used to inspire and develop learning in the classroom.

Who staffs Forest School and how do they ensure our children are safe whilst taking part in challenging activities such as Fire Lighting and Tree Climbing? 

We employ Rachel Murray who is a level 3 qualified Forest School leader, and qualified in play work and outdoor education to lead and plan the sessions. She is usually accompanied by the Class teacher. Alongside this we have a regular volunteers with a wide range of skills including experience in the teaching profession, nursing, scouting and art.

Before we undertake any new activity which requires new skills we have a tool talk or activity protocol which includes a demonstration of how and why we use the tool/activity and what we need to do to be safe. Every time we then use that tool or revisit that activity we recap the protocol. 

When we use tools such as bow saws or when we light fires this is done under close supervision to ensure the children’s safety. Rachel Murray is fully qualified in Forest School First Aid. 

How often do the children get to do Forest School?

Each term a rota is planned so each class should get to go every six weeks. The sessions are only postponed when it is considered to be unsafe to go to Forest School. 

What can I do to support Forest School?

  • Wood:  If you are having any tree work done we always need wood for activities
  • Tools: we are always looking for garden tools to help with our activities
  • Equipment: We are looking to extend our activities by using ropes and Tarps if you have any camping or outdoors equipment you wish to donate.
  • Time: we are always happy to train up new volunteers, more volunteers means a wider range of opportunities can be offered. 

How does Forest School Support the Curriculum?

The Forest School ethos is to be individually child focussed which means each session is planned after the last to ensure the interests and discoveries of each session and each child can be supported in the next session.

Alongside the sessions are planned to increase the children’s understanding of the Forest Rules and their core skills and to compliment the focus of the topic each class is undertaking for that term.

Core skills gained by children have included :

  • Understanding fire safety
  • Fire lighting
  • Tool Protocols and use including Use of secateurs and Bow saws (only some classes)
  • Stick use and protocol
  • Tree climbing skills (Only some children)
  • Safety in the wood and looking after my team