Spring Grove School currently offers fortnightly Forest School sessions to children in Reception, Prep 3 and Prep 4. Other Year Groups are given the opportunity to attend periodically on an opportunity basis. Most sessions take place in King’s Wood, Challock though there are some opportunities to explore other settings.
What is Forest School?
“Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and compliments the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.” The Forest School Association
Forest School is a programme developed in Scandinavia in the 1950’s but it is based on a rich heritage of outdoor learning going back at least to the 19th century. It concentrates on delivering education in an outdoor environment. Studies carried out have concluded that children who experienced learning in an outdoor setting were more balanced, more socially developed, have deeper concentration levels and better coordination. Today, outdoor learning has shown to increase attainment and endurance levels in students. It is also shown to increase self-esteem, confidence and communication on skills.
Every Forest School is unique but each should adhere to six key principles:
- Forest School is a long term, repetitive learning process that uses a natural outdoor space.
- Forest School empowers children and young people to take responsibility for their own learning and development.
- Forest School promotes holistic, individualised learning and development. It is for all ages and abilities and its ethos is fully inclusive.
- Forest School encourages emotional growth, self-esteem, confidence and independence.
- Forest School is facilitated by qualified Level 3 Forest School Practitioners.
- Forest School instils a deep respect and awareness for the natural world and reconnects participants to their environment.
Forest School gives young people the opportunity to develop self-learning through natural play and positive outdoor experiences. Learning is facilitated by trained practitioners who guide young people by way of experiential learning. Forest School helps young people to understand the importance of nature and the environment. Pupils learn about tree and plant life and how to protect them, fire safety and camp fire cooking, shelter building, safe use of tools, woodland crafts and more. Working with fire and tools allows young people to manage risk and take responsibility for their learning, themselves and the people around them. This responsibility in turn leads to young people gaining a greater sense of self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem, leadership and communication skills.
Links to the Curriculum
Whilst Forest School will be fun and include a significant element of play, many links can be made to more conventional lessons:
- English— story telling, learning new words through identifying flora and fauna, using nature in poetry, developing language through exploration, developing communication through team work.
- Mathematics—measuring trees, sorting, counting and producing data for mini beasts, shapes in nature.
- Science—food chains, pond and woodland mini beasts, life cycles, methods of creating fire.
- Art, Design and Technology—photography, natural art, working with clay and mud, willow sculpture, making dens, campfire cooking, using tools, making boats.
- Geography—maps, looking at different woodlands and environment and seasonal changes.
- History—history of local woodlands and nature areas.
- Physical Education—walking, tree climbing, obstacle courses.
During the first year of Forest School, Spring Grove School earned The Woodland Trust’s Green Tree School Scheme’s Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. The scheme rewards schools for completing environmental projects and encouraging outdoor learning.
In November 2017, Spring Grove School achieved two ‘firsts’ after being recognised as the first independent school in the UK, as well as the first setting of any type in Kent, to be approved by the Forest School Association (FSA) as a recognised Forest School Provider. This outstanding recognition came following a rigorous review of Spring Grove School’s Forest School provision and programmes in line with the FSA’s six core principles.
Team Forest School
Head of Forest School: Mr Paul Curnow (Level 3 Forest School Leader)
Forest School Leader: Mr Ken Lutz (Level 3 Forest School Leader (Under Training))
Parent Helpers: Mrs Louise Courtenay-Snipp, Mrs Lydia Rimmer, Mrs Jo Dawson, Mrs Carine Borg, Mrs Suzie Boyd, Mrs Julie Dod, Mr Ross Curnow