Forest skills/school intent
Forest school is an action that leaders have taken in response to COVID 19. Our pupils have suffered from a lack of social interactions with one another during sporadic absence from school. Given that Forest school is a holistic learner led approach offering opportunities for children to learn through play and discovery it is the ideal solution in promoting pupils social and team work skills. Play promotes brain growth and is the mechanism by which children learn the best. True play is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated behaviour. This means if an activity begins and our learners decide to take it in a direction other than the one planned you let them. At the end of each session we aim come together and talk about the session. This conversation can be initiated by adults, but the children should take the lead. We are working towards fulfilling all the forest school principles, until we do, we will be referring to sessions as forest skills.
The key principles of forest school are:
- It is learner led – the leader is there to facilitate the learning taking place.
- It’s hands-on – appropriate risks are taken, physical tasks are in achievable steps, there is lots of opportunity for praise
- Promote independence - Mistakes are sometimes made, learners take responsibility for these mistakes and consequently learn through experience.
- All participate – adults model play (following the pupils lead).
- Sessions are run by a level 3 qualified instructor. Class 1, 2, Year 7, 8 and 9 take part in activities. Pupils in year 10 and 11 move on to D of E as part of the sequence.
Learners are encouraged to come up with their own safety rules during forest skills sessions and take responsibility for everyone’s safety. Instructors facilitate this conversation and guide learners to come up with appropriate rules making sure all aspects of safety are covered.
Where possible the following structure is used for each session so that children can learn a specific new skill as well as improving their social, emotional mental health, social skills and build resilience:
Sequence of learning
Calming group activity
1 central adult led activity
2/3 choice based activities
Regroup reflective activity - to guide next session
Evidence collected towards pupils EHCP outcomes.
A key aspect of forest school is taking appropriate risks and sometimes allowing things to go wrong. Children are expected to face problems such as new challenges and minor injuries that they can deal with themselves thus increasing their resilience. Due to the for mentioned the following things will be required:
- Risk benefit analysis
- Dynamic risk assessments
- Site risk assessments (for offsite activities)
- Site checks
- Appropriate clothing
Initially all forest skills sessions will take place within the school grounds. Eventually we hope to use different spaces, each site we use will have a risk assessment. Every activity will have a risk assessment/risk benefit analysis. Boundaries will be clearly defined for any site. Any public sites will be checked using a ‘site check list’ before a session can begin. Adults will be highly visible. A checklist of safety equipment will be completed before going to another site.