At Whiteshill, we believe that learning outdoors is an important element of life in school. We look for opportunities wherever we can to take the children outside as there are benefits for both their physical and mental wellbeing. As part of this, Mr Pritchard leads forest school sessions across the school all day on a Friday. Willow class (Reception) attend forest school every single Friday morning throughout their first year in school – no matter what the weather! It is so important that whilst the children are in the Early Years Foundation Stage, they have an opportunity to be curious outdoors and demonstrate skills and knowledge that they simply could not do in a classroom environment. It gives them opportunity to learn about risks in a safe environment, build resilience and self confidence and develop their physical and social skills as they work together on activities as a team.
Of course, the benefits of forest school do not stop when you turn 5, so last year we developed our forest school provision further so that all the children at Whiteshill benefit from this fantastic experience. On Friday afternoon, the older children attend forest school for a term as follows:
Mr Pritchard plans forest school so that it is line with the curriculum for each of these classes, supporting the learning that is going on in school e.g. map reading or compass skills during our geography topic as well as giving the children time to develop their team work, resilience and self confidence with appropriate challenges and forest school tasks.
We are incredibly lucky at Whiteshill because our forest school takes place in a real forest! We have a long-standing agreement which allows us to use an area in Ruscombe Woods. This means that the children are immersed in nature for the session, experiencing the seasons as they pass and learning all about the natural world in thier local area. It also means that forest school is set up and ready for them to access, with a fire pit, den building areas and natural climbing equipment for them to explore.
We could not run forest school each week without the help of parent volunteers. There is a sign up sheet in the school lobby so if you are able to come along, please do put your name down – it is a great chance to see the children in action and have a great morning out in the fresh air.