What is Forest Schools?
At Violet Way Academy, we are extremely fortunate to have an extensive and beautiful woodland area. Every child experiences regular Forest Schools sessions in our woodlands. Forest Schools is an inspirational educational experience that offers our children opportunities to develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on experiences in our beautiful, natural woodland environment.
Children are motivated by exciting and achievable activities throughout the year in almost all weathers. Forest Schools experiences enable children to develop an understanding of the natural world around them. They learn about seasonal changes and recognise how the environment changes over time. Forest School sessions provide opportunities for children to develop their communication, speaking, listening and team building skills alongside increasing their knowledge of the natural world and learning about trees, mammals, plants and birds. They will use tools, learn to cooperate and work with their peers and adults, developing strategies in order to take measured risks.
Forest School Leader
Our Forest Schools leader, Mrs Dawson, plans activities to spark curiosity and develop life-long skills. When planning Forest School sessions, she consults with the teaching staff, providing meaningful links to our school curriculum. Our Forest School ethos is to encourage and empower the children to lead their own learning whilst the teachers support the children's questions, comments and learning, setting appropriate challenges.
Miss Nicolls is our Science and Forest School Lead teacher. Together with Mrs Dawson, she ensures that all relevant risk assessments are in place and supports staff in making effective use of the woodlands to enrich our curriculum offer.
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. The sessions are planned to increase the children’s understanding of the Forest Rules and their core skills and to compliment the focus of each year group's curriculum.
Some examples of the knowledge, skills and understanding children learn during their Forest School sessions include:
- Developing relationships with each other
- Developing relationships with nature
- Confidence and perseverance
- Assessing risks and decision-making
- Using natural materials to build with and create
- Understanding fire safety
- Safely using tools
- Safety in the woodlands and looking after my team
In addition to the Forest School activities, our Forest School leader and teaching staff also plan activities that are designed to compliment and enrich the curriculum. These activities will extend the depth of understanding of a particular topic within a subject. For example, whilst learning about trees and flowers in science, Year 1 pupils explore the woodlands, using identifiers to name the different trees and wild flowers in our woodland environment. For Art and Design, they use natural materials found in the woodlands to create natural sculptures, inspired by Andy Goldsworthy, during their Forest School sessions. In Reception the children used their imagination to create pixie collages and tree charms. When learning about animals, they made animal feeders.
What does my child need for Forest School?
The weather can be very unpredictable, so we ask parents to ensure that children have a pair of wellies that can be kept in school. We have over 270 pairs of wellies in school, so please ensure that they are labelled with your child's name! On their Forest School session days, children should come to school in their school uniform shirt and jumper and wear comfortable, plain, dark jogging bottoms or leggings. They will also need to wear a waterproof coat or waterproof overalls.