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Forest School

Forest school is more about the process than the activities; the journey rather than the destination.

Forest School is an essential part of our creative curriculum at Bishops Down and provides an opportunity for children to put our core school values into practice: Achievement, Self-belief, Perseverance, Independence, Respect and Equality. Children enjoy being outside and we typically find that, over six two hour sessions their self-belief, confidence, learning capacity, enthusiasm, communication, problem-solving skills and emotional wellbeing all improve. We know this because adults and children alike observe, talk about and celebrate this learning and recognise how important these skills and states of being are to our development and our ability to achieve our best. We also become more attuned to our immediate environment and the changes that occur all around us, every day - we notice more.  At the end of the six sessions we share photos and achievements, individual learning, personal enjoyment and surprises. These reflections and moments on our journey are always really special.

Essentially, children are taught how to be safe in the ‘wild’ and to look after their needs. They learn to assess risks and benefits and to make informed, sensible decisions (e.g. Is this branch strong enough?). They can carry out a range of practical activities and carry out small achievable tasks. Children will have the opportunity to learn the skills of fire lighting and tool use and will have opportunities to make their own choices and apply their knowledge and skills. Sometimes sessions may be more structured to allow links to be made with their class learning. In the past we have made links with History, focusing on the Romans; links with Geography making and reading map skills; many Science links such as plant classification or learning about habitats. We also address seasonal issues regarding flora and fauna (making an area to make leaf mulch or making bird feeders in preparation for winter). Providing opportunities to show enterprising behaviour (possibly linked with competitions or entirely of their own volition) is important, as is time to work as a group and solve problems; to be creative and imaginative. Essentially though, children have opportunities to drive their own learning journeys that embrace their interests.

Most sessions take place on site, but we also take advantage of Hurst Woods, the wonderful ancient woodland on our doorstep. We can build dens and shelters there and get to know the plants and animals. There is a stream that meanders through it and as the children are physically active a lot of the time their stamina improves as does their appreciation of woodlands and outdoor spaces and this can form the basis of a life-long relationship and a positive contribution to the world around us.

All children from Year 2 to Year 6 participate in Forest School on a rotation basis during the year.  Prior to this children in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 enjoy outside learning with their class teacher in "Woodland Explorers" club.


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