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Forest School

Outdoor Learning Vision

Our outdoor learning initiative gives children the opportunity to become independent, resilient, creative, and adventurous learners, engaging with the natural environment, taking risks, tackling challenge, and improving their health and wellbeing. At Haberdashers' Crayford Primary, we believe all our children are entitled to this holistic approach, which spans the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and the National Curriculum, as it is accessible to all. Outdoor learning activities and opportunities to engage in the natural environment are woven into our teaching in a cross curricular way. Both forest school and adventure learning are encompassed in outdoor learning and our key message in forest school is that progress in Forest School is process-based, not goal-based.

Embedded within outdoor learning is an awareness, appreciation, and respect of the natural world, making links to The Sustainable Development Goals and our school values, in the hope that our children will become good global citizens who care for their community and the planet. In Early Years and Key Stage 1, the children take part in weekly Forest School sessions within the school grounds and at our gated Forest School site. This is then built upon in Key Stage 2 where children take part in outdoor learning activities, using the school grounds and the wider community to support their learning in all areas of the curriculum. However, we also encourage frequent opportunities to learn outdoors in all key stages and areas of the curriculum.

As outdoor learning is a holistic approach, we aim to develop the whole child, research showing that children can benefit in a multitude of ways:

  • Emotional development- Time to reflect is an important part of all Forest School sessions and helps children to expand their emotional vocabulary and understand how they feel.
  • Spiritual development-Having a sense of belonging to the wider world, being part of something bigger than yourself, and your connection to nature, linking to our school value of responsibility.
  • Intellectual development-Our aim is to equip children with knowledge about the natural environment and develop their desire to look after the world they live in, linking to our school value of respect.
  • Social development-Through shared experiences and goals, children build up social interactions and relationships, choosing whether to work together as a team or independently, linking to our school value of collaboration.
  • Physical development-Both fine motor skills and gross motor skills are developed in the outdoor environment, as well as stamina and positive experiences, linking to our school value of resilience.
  • Communication and language development-Working together encourages communication and develops skilful expression of thoughts and ideas, as well as the ability to listen to others. Reflection activities increase a child’s ability to understand and describe their internal state, wants and needs, linking to our school value of Belonging.

Forest school

Children with learning difficulties including autism, behavioural difficulties, speech and language difficulties and problems with hearing and vision all benefit from Forest School. Children with SEN tend to respond well because of the multi-sensory and enabling environment of Forest School, where children can explore and take supported risks. Particular benefits include gaining more independence, reducing anxiety and creating a sense of belonging.

The benefits of Forest School for all children are:

Building Confidence

Forest School helps children to grow in confidence as a result of the freedom, time and space they are given in their learning. This allows them to demonstrate independence at each individual child’s level.

Developing Social skills
Activities such as sharing tools and participating in play help teach the children to work together as a group, which strengthens their bonds, social ties and builds good relationships.

Learning to Communicate
The sensory experiences provided in Forest School helps prompt language development. Improving communication skills has a positive effect on a child’s self-esteem and is a crucial part of their development.

Encouraging Motivation and Concentration
High levels of interest lead to high levels of attention and engagement. Spending time in the outdoor environment is exciting for a child. It stimulates their curiosity and helps them to develop a strong will to participate and concentrate over longer periods of time.

Practising Physical Skills
The increase in outdoor activity has a positive physical impact. Not only does the development of physical stamina improve but also gross and fine motor skills too.

Acquiring Knowledge and Understanding
Children develop an interest in the great outdoors and respect for the environment. Encouraging children to develop a relationship with the natural world will help in protecting the environment for future generations.

New Perspectives
Forest School isn’t just beneficial to children it is also beneficial to teachers. Observing their class in a different setting allows them to gain a new perspective and understanding of their children.

Ripple Effects
When children really engage in Forest School, they will take their experiences home to share with friends and family. This will often encourage families to visit their local natural environment more frequently.

Access For All
Taking children outside of the classroom removes the pressures of academic achievement and allows them to play to their strengths. Forest School allows those children who struggle in the classroom the opportunity to be successful and to learn at their own pace.

Having Fun!
Most of all Forest School is fun!