Part of the Faculty of Character and Careers
- Miss G. Holmes
- Miss S. Redford
- Staffordshire Wildlife Trust
At Milton Primary Academy, Forest School is an opportunity for all learners to develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment. Forest School will utilise a specialised learning approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland education. This learner-centered approach will interweave with the ever-changing moods and marvels, potential and challenges of the natural world through the seasons to fill every Forest School session and program with discovery and difference. Whilst each Forest School program will share a common set of principles, aimed at ensuring that all learners experience the cumulative and lasting benefits that quality Forest School offers, the experience for each learning will likely be very different, based on their own perspectives and connections with the natural world.
Principles of Outstanding Forest School
These are the ‘Principles of Outstanding Forest School’ at Milton Primary Academy. They were devised and agreed by the children and staff in January 2020, informed by the way we feel that Forest School should be taught across the Academy.
Principle 1: Children are excited and enthusiastic about Forest School.
Principle 2: Children lead their own learning, asking and answering their own questions about the natural environment in the world around them.
Principle 3: Forest School is practical and hands on and children enjoy learning through creativity and exploration.
Principle 4: Forest School leaders use a range of effective assessment strategies to inform the planning and teaching of Forest School and encourage the children to take appropriate risks.
Principle 5: Children and adults appreciate the awe and wonder of the natural environment, making links to how, where and why it forms part of their everyday lives.
Principle 6: Teachers enable children to access a range of enrichment opportunities, both within and beyond the curriculum.
Forest School Subject Leader
My name is Miss Holmes and I am the Forest School lead at Milton Primary. I completed my Level 3 Forest School qualification during the 19/20 academic year and my role as a Forest School leader is to plan, adapt and observe frequent and regular sessions in a natural environment. Forest school aims to support the learner by providing an environment with the space to discover and explore safely, linking experiences in the natural environment to experiences the child may have at home or school and to develop the child holistically; I therefore believe in allowing learners to take risks, providing the risk is appropriate to the environment and the individual learner.
Children spending time outdoors is something I feel very passionate about as there is strong evidence that spending time with nature is associated with better performance for young people in their emotional, behavioural and cognitive areas of learning and it is beneficial to mental health. Based on my own research into Forest School provision, our sessions at Milton are delivered frequently and consistently, both during the core curriculum and as part of our enrichment offer.
Forest School and the Curriculum
At Milton Primary Academy we aim to provide a Forest School curriculum that is creative, inclusive, challenging and inspired by the real-world. It inspires future thinkers, innovators and problem solvers in an immersive environment that stimulates curiosity and supports high-quality learning, allowing each and every learner to fulfil their potential.
In the EYFS, our forest school curriculum will address:
Understanding of the World:
- There are three areas: Past and Present, People, Culture and Communities and The Natural world.
- Forest School gives opportunities for children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, and the environment.
- Learning about The Natural World through Forest School gives the children a hands on approach their learning.
Communication and Language:
- There are two areas: Listening, Attention and Understanding and Speaking.
- These skills are used throughout Forest School sessions when as children work together and with an adult.
- Children can work in smaller group allowing children to respond appropriately to questioning and clarify any information.
- Children can express their feelings and ideas during Forest School sessions as it is child led.
- There are two areas: Gross Motor Skills and Fine Motor Skills.
- Forest School provides opportunities for children to be active and interactive, and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement.
- Forest School allows opportunities for both Gross Motor and Fine Motor skills to be developed through the planning of different activities and free play opportunities.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development:
- There are three areas; Self-Regulation, Managing Self and Building Relationships.
- Forest School gives opportunity for children to: develop a positive sense of themselves and others; form positive relationships and develop respect for others; develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; understand appropriate behaviour; and have confidence in their own abilities.
In KS1 and KS2, our forest school curriculum will address:
ENGLISH – Children will use descriptive vocabulary to describe woodland objects and plants, including as part of different sensory games. All of the sessions also encourage children to develop their speaking and listening as well as allowing them to often talk about and share ideas relating to how we can help to look after the planet.
MATHS – Children use problem solving during most activities in a Forest School session. For example, they consider how many ropes will be needed to make their den? How big will a den need to be in order to fit everybody in? How long will the wood need to be cut to make a birdhouse?
SCIENCE – During our Forest School sessions we learn about different habitats and identify some of these in the school grounds. Children often collect different materials from the natural environment, and we consider these and their properties when exploring. We also explore lots of different animals when bug hunting and discuss the similarities and differences between these.
ART and DT – The Forest Schools curriculum offers all children the opportunity to cut wood and shape it safely using a range of tools. They will also learn how to use a saw, hand drill, peeler and loppers.
Assessment in Forest Schools
At Milton Primary Academy we all agree that the effective assessment of children’s learning helps us to ensure that each child makes good or better progress so that ‘Together We Achieve Our Best.’ This section therefore outlines the various assessment methods and practices that we use to monitor pupil progress and attainment in our Forest School sessions at Milton Primary, and also ensure that the activities that we plan for our children are suitably matched to their ability and level of development.
Formative Assessment (AfL): Forest Schools has a structure which is based on observations and collaborative work between learners and practitioners. The initial sessions of any programme establish physical and behavioural boundaries as well as making initial observations on which to base future programme development. Any Forest School experience also follows a Risk–Benefit process managed jointly by the practitioner and learner that is tailored to the developmental stage of the learner.
Educational Visits and Enrichment
At Milton Primary Academy we place great emphasis on the importance of educational visits and visitors to enhance the teaching and learning of Forest Schools. These visits and visitors, which provide valuable opportunities for learning through first-hand experience, are therefore an integral part of the curriculum and allow our children to make valuable connections between what they have learned in class and their first-hand experiences in the real-world.
Whole School Enrichment and Clubs: During their time at Milton, all pupils have access to extra-curricular Forest School club, and we are pleased to currently be working with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust to offer these opportunities each year.
At Milton Primary Academy we believe that the view of every pupil is important to ensure that we provide the best education possible. Here is a selection of pupil voice collected during the 2019/20 academic year, and in some cases, what we are doing / have done to improve the forest school education that we provide.
Chloe in Reception said… “I like the Forest School area.”
Ava in Year 2 said… “I’d like to do Forest School.”
Lily said it… we did it!! We’ve worked really hard to ensure that there are even more Forest School clubs on offer in the 2020-21 academic year, as we know that the places fill up really fast. There’s now two different group running each week!
Oliver in Year 4 said… “I’m good at using the flint and steel now.”
Please see below a selection of documents that relate to the intent, implementation, and impact of Forest Schools teaching and learning at Milton Primary Academy. If you require any additional information relating to this subject, then please contact the subject leader, Miss G. Holmes, via the academy office (firstname.lastname@example.org).