Here at Thornton Dale School we are extremely fortunate to have fantastic surrounding grounds that offer so much potential for outdoor learning. When possible, we try to take our learning outside, using our environment and the resources that it provides. For example, we can use the natural resources as manipulative in Maths or use our landscape to inspire some descriptive writing in English. Alongside these ideas, we also acknowledge how the outdoors can encourage our children to take risks, work collaboratively and develop resilience.
We are passionate about the inclusion of Forest Schools within our curriculum across the whole age range. We have a fantastic space in which to carry out Forest Schools and are developing this as time goes on to make the most of our fabulous environment, which already includes a fire pit within a woodland clearing, a bird hide overlooking a fenced pond, and a trail through our woodland. Each year group has a dedicated period of weekly forest schools sessions throughout the year where they learn new skills such as den-building and whittling. In all this we are led by Donna, a trained Forest Schools leader from Hidden Horizons who works with our staff and parent volunteers to develop a rich experience for the children.
Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.
- At Forest School all participants are viewed as:
- equal, unique and valuable
- competent to explore & discover
- entitled to experience appropriate risk and challenge
- entitled to choose, and to initiate and drive their own learning and development
- entitled to experience regular success
- entitled to develop positive relationships with themselves and other people
- entitled to develop a strong, positive relationship with their natural world
- Principles of Forest School
- FS is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than a one-off or infrequent visits; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation and review links each session.
- FS takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
- FS uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for being, development and learning.
- FS aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
- FS offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
- FS at Thornton Dale is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.