Forest School

We are very proud to have our own unique forest school area!

Forest School is an approach to education that makes use of the outdoor environment to create a unique learning vehicle. It believes in children's right to play; the right to access outdoors in a woodland environment; the right to access risk; the right to experience the natural world around them; the right to experience a healthy range of emotions, through all challenges of social interaction, to build resilience that enables continued and creative engagement with peers.

How is Forest School Supporting PE/Sports Provision?

The new Curriculum for PE asks schools to provide in both Key Stages an opportunity for Pupils to develop and master fundamental movement skills, become increasingly competent and confident and access a broad range of opportunities to extend their agility, balance and co-ordination, individually and with others.

They should be able to engage in competitive (both against self and against others) and co-operative physical activities, in a range of increasingly challenging situations. Pupils should be taught to master basic movements including running, jumping, throwing and catching, as well as developing balance, agility and coordination, and begin to apply these in a range of activities, participate in team games, developing simple tactics for attacking and defending. Apply and develop a broader range of skills, learning how to use them in different ways and to link them to make actions and sequences of movement.

They should enjoy communicating, collaborating and competing with each other. They should develop an understanding of how to improve in different physical activities and learn how to evaluate and recognise their own success. In KS2 they take part in outdoor and adventurous activity challenges both individually and within a team. We play a range of collaborative and individual games which support and develop these physical skills as well as tactics which support team games. We offer tool work which develops both fine and gross motor skills and have a range of physical obstacles which challenge their agility and balance alongside developing risk assessment skills.

Why does Ackworth Howard use the Forest School Approach?

We identified that although as a school we provided a good range of sports provision we were not providing opportunities for other outdoor activities.

Forest School sessions are run by a qualified professional who supports the children’s physical development and engagement with healthy lifestyles by providing opportunities for the children to test their own boundaries and physical capabilities while developing new skills.

The ethos of Forest School allows each session to support individual children’s needs which in turn gives them a sense of well being and belonging which has led to children being more confident in having a go in class. The element of risk taking afforded by Forest School has meant that children are making healthier behaviour choices in the playground.

How and what do the children learn through forest school?

Forest school is a child led kinaesthetic learning experience. The Forest School leader at each session sets up a range of activities. At the beginning of the session the activities are outlined and each child explores these activities throughout the session. The child determines the rate, direction, depth and breadth of their learning. Some activities will lead to unset tasks.

The children are encouraged to revisit both skills and projects they have completed in previous weeks to see how time and the environment have had an effect on them and also to ensure that their learning is secure.

How else does Forest school help my child?

The activities at forest school are designed to improve the children’s resilience and self-confidence. The children are expected to have a go at everything and the adults will support them but not complete the task for them. We have a limited number of tools and this means that the children need to use good communication and negotiation skills. Team work skills are also developed as a number of the activities and tools require team work. The tool work we do helps with fine and gross motor skills which in turn supports handwriting. Even walking up to Forest School is starting to develop their awareness of other’s needs and their place in the community.

Forest school has helped children work, learn and play with a wider range of children and shows the class teacher how they work in a different environment which can then be used to inspire and develop learning in the classroom. When we use tools such as bow saws or when we light fires this is done under close supervision to ensure the children’s safety. 

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. Alongside the sessions are planned to increase the children’s understanding of the Forest Rules and their core skills. Core skills gained by children have included :

Understanding fire safety

Fire lighting

Tool Protocols and use including Use of secateurs and Bow saws (only some classes)

Stick use and protocol

Tree climbing skills (Only some children)

Safety in the wood and looking after my team