Grange Primary School offers all children the opportunity to participate in a Forest Schools programme.
Forest Schools is an exciting way of learning that encourages, inspires and educates children through positive outdoor experiences. Emphasis is on the process of learning, with sessions being designed around the needs of the individual group, always ensuring that they are learner led.
Children learn best from first hand experiences; and exploring, playing and learning using a range of outdoor activities is what Forest Schools is all about. Over an extended period, children build their independence, self-esteem, resilience, creativity, problem solving skills and team work skills. The children develop a relationship with the natural world and a respect for the environment; alongside a positive impact on their emotional well-being.
Children in both the Nursery and Y3/4 get the opportunity to experience Forest Schools during their time at Grange, meaning that by the time they leave, every child will have taken part in a Forest Schools programme.
A Note from Mrs Staniford
Forest Schools is such a valuable part of school life at Grange now. It gives all the children the chance to shine and builds up their self-esteem. We have seen children who never speak up in class, or who are reluctant to try new things, blossom in the woods. We are able to personalise learning through Forest Schools and although all our sessions are planned, we love the fact that the children have the opportunity to lead their own learning, learn at their own pace and initiate activities.
The children also get chance to reflect, which for many, is a skill that is lost in their busy lives. We have seen relationships being built, friendships being formed and under-confident children increasing in confidence each week. Being in a different environment also allows us to get a new perspective on the children.
The Nursery attend a site in Attenborough, run by Rachel from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. The sessions run in two blocks over a period of five weeks, with thirteen children attending in the morning and thirteen in the afternoon. The children learn fire safety through songs and games, and after finding the treasure chest and following a clue, they are then encouraged to take part in free flow activities, before gathering back for a circle time at the end. Activities can include:
- Fire safety and cooking over a fire
- Mud painting
- Mud kitchen
- Animal tracking
- Crafts – including jingle sticks, camouflage hats and necklaces
- Making nests
- Rope activities
We travel by minibus to a private woodland in Risley. The woodland is owned by farmers who allow Grange to use it every Friday. The classes are split, so that groups of fifteen are able to attend over a 6 week period. The children go to the woods in all weathers, with the exception of very high winds. The type of activities that the children take part in, always have a context and purpose and are designed to be child led. Some of these include:
- Imagination based activities including dragons, alien landings, fairies
- Survival skills
- Shelter building – both miniature and full sized
- Team building games
- Tool use – particularly whittling and sawing
- Crafts – including bows and arrows, weaving and clay work
- Fire safety, including cooking over fire
- Trust activities
The sessions are run by Mrs Staniford and Mrs Buss; both experienced teachers, Level 3 Forest Schools trained and qualified outdoor first aiders. Health and Safety considerations are always of paramount importance; before each session, both the site and the activities are risk assessed. In addition to this, children are taught to safely set their own boundaries and assess their own risks. Please contact Mrs Staniford if you would like to view any risk assessments.
Class teachers have reported that children who have participated in the Forest Schools experience become more confident in class, more willing to contribute to class discussions, are better able to resolve disputes between peers and more willing to try new things.
Communication between the class teacher and Forest Schools Leader is always a priority. There are meetings set up between the Y3/4 Forest Schools Leaders and parents, alongside an opportunity for parents to feedback their opinions on how their child has been impacted by the experience. Progression is monitored through observations, reviews and feedback.
Forest Schools Feedback
‘A huge thank you to Mrs Staniford and Mrs Buss for making it so enjoyable! Sebastian totally loved Forest Schools. Each week he came home and told me what he had done and learnt. He loved being outside and being able to enjoy the woods. He enjoyed meeting the farmer’s dog and especially enjoyed the fire. He loved looking for the rock aliens and dragon scales. Seb wishes he could do Forest Schools every week!’
'I know all the children really enjoyed their visits to Forest Schools. It has boosted their confidence levels and it has been a surprise learning which children have performed really well there.’
‘During discussion time, I have noticed more children willing to contribute their ideas.’
‘My daughter has thoroughly enjoyed Forest Schools. She looked forward to going every week, and was sad when it finished. Her outdoor confidence, making decisions and problem solving have grown massively. A big thank you to everyone involved.’
‘My daughter has thoroughly enjoyed the Forest Schools experience, so much so that she didn’t want it to end! Being with her friends and outdoors, investigating, learning, creating. Each one of those elements bringing something new. I hope this experience brings as much fun to many more pupils for many more years. Another great aspect of Grange!’
‘Both groups have benefited from group sizes. There have been fewer fallings out between the girls in the Forest Schools group.’
‘I have found the Forest Schools experience for my daughter to be fun, interesting and educational. There is a buzz in the playground every Friday morning with the excitement of Forest Schools.’
‘All the children involved have more self-belief, confidence and are more willing to work independently and join in class discussions as a result of Forest Schools.’