Forest School is an inspirational, learner-centered process aiming to develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment. Children will problem solve, explore their learning and are supported in managing risk to support independence and resilience in a safe environment.
The Forest School Association headlines their definition by saying that, “Forest School is an inspirational process that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.”
The principles of Forest School as laid out by the Forest School Community in 2002 are as follows:
Forest School 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.
Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
Forest School uses a range of learner-centered processes to create a community for being, development and learning.
Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
Positive Exploration and Learning
All participants in the Devonshire Hill Forest School program will be encouraged to:
Experience and manage risk and challenge,
Develop positive and cooperative relationships with themselves, others and the natural environment
To explore and discover independently both individually and with others.
To play an active and central role in the direction and drive of their own learning and development.
To experience regular success but not be afraid of failure
It is this child-centered, child-led approach to learning that signifies the Forest School program as opposed to other valuable outdoor educational experiences such as field studies, bushcraft, horticulture, environmental education or even learning outside the classroom as an alternative environment.
Harvesting and weaving willow to make wands.
Digging was very popular at Pasteur Gardens. Just add water.
Creating forest art at Pasteur gardens.
Forest School Aims
At Devonshire Hill Primary School we have chosen to run a Forest School program with the intention to:
Provide a safe and non-threatening environment in which children can manage risk, make choices and develop their own learning journey.
Provide a learning environment to learn, interact with each other and nature and enjoy themselves.
Help children understand, respect and care for the natural environment.
Provide ways of developing practical life skills in an outdoor environment.
Develop self-esteem, confidence and a genuine joy of learning through self-initiated experiences.
Meet the needs of children with varying learning styles
Enable children to be independent, self-motivated and considerate.
Provide stimulation and varied learning activities appropriate to the child’s needs and stages of development.
Detailed information about the Devonshire Hill Primary School Forest School program, including the Forest School ethos, and detailed risk/benefit assessments, will be available shortly.
As part of our commitment to providing a high quality Forest School experience, we have created our own fantastic woodland area, March Wood, at the far end of our large school field.
This project will provide an amazing outdoor learning environment for our children which will grow richer every year and become a fantastic legacy for the school and the area.
This last year has been a very exciting time in March Wood with many new arrivals! We have welcomed 31 semi-mature trees and 420 young saplings, a beautiful sweet chestnut roundhouse shelter and learning area, a variety of living willow structures to name just a few! Work has started on a wildlife pond and we have another 315 native mixed broadleaf saplings waiting to be planted in thickets and hedgerows. As the leaves fall from the trees, it is time to start harvesting the amazing first year’s willow growth and planting more living structures.
While the development work carries on, we eagerly wait for spring to see March Wood burst into life again for its first full year!