Spring Grove School currently offers regular Forest School sessions to all children from Reception to Prep 6. Most sessions take place in woodland close to school.
In November 2018, our Head of Forest School, Mr Paul Curnow, was awarded Inspiring Outdoor Educator of the Year by the Council for Learning Outside – a fantastic recognition of the quality of learning provided by Forest School at Spring Grove.
This was just the latest in a series of awards – 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. 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.
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 1950s, 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 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.
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))