Forest school learning is a very special part of what we do at Chirton School.
We are fortunate enough to have a dedicated woodland at our disposal, thanks to the generosity of a local land owner and our children therefore have the opportunity to experience this very practical way of learning at various points throughout their journey with us. With a very experienced teacher at the helm, forest school provision is carefully interwoven into classroom learning, supporting and extending indoor learning in a woodland setting. No two sessions are the same and children lead their own learning wherever possible with the guidance of the high ratio of adults to children. We cover every aspect of the curriculum in the woods but a lot else too. From toasting marshmallows to whittling sticks from hugging trees to sitting quietly on our Reflection Island listening to the birds singing, the opportunity to take their learning outside is very powerful .... and they love it!
What is Forest School all about?
Forest School is an inspirational process that offers ALL learners the opportunity to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland environment.
The 6Rs (relationships, resilience, resourcefulness, respect, responsibility and reflectiveness) are continually used at a forest school session where children are challenged to solve problems and develop their creativity and interests. At Chirton all children are offered weekly sessions in the woods throughout the year as well as on-site through our outdoor ‘Classroom of Wonder.’ Links are made to curriculum work back in the classroom and the benefit of employing an experienced classroom teacher as Forest School Leader means that Sarah is able to let the children lead their own learning yet tease out the curriculum learning appropriate to their levels and abilities. She is flexible in her planning and able to follow the children's interest, yet familiar enough with the curriculum needs so that she can ensure new learning is taking place. Sarah liaises closely with class teachers, planning activities which mirror or support the work going on in class and then follows up with teachers after sessions to help them develop the learning and passions of the children further in the classroom and they then decide together how to move the learning forward.
The most remarkable and obvious change in the children has been the growth in their confidence from dealing with the simplest challenges such as stinging nettles to using saws and knives in a safe environment. It is surprising, given our rural community location, how challenging some of the tasks are and how much pride the children gain from succeeding.
The most remarkable and obvious change in the children has been the growth in their confidence from dealing with the simplest challenges such as stinging nettles to using saws and knives in a safe environment.
Each day starts with checking the children have the right clothing, they then have a 15 minute walk to the forest area which offers opportunities for road crossing drills. Children's independence is encouraged and so when the area was initially set up it was the children who cleared an area for the base camp and an area where a fire could be lit, moving logs into place to form seats around a circle. It was the children who constructed the shelter which became base came by building a skeleton structure and then thatching it. They also built a bridge to our Reflection Island, a puppet theatre and a swing … all their own designs. These principles of children leading their own learning has continued throughout the years that we have been running forest school sessions and one can clearly see the children progressing with their skills year on year.
How can I get involved?
Well we need lots of volunteers! Its great fun and a wonderful way to experience this very valuable provision in action. So if you fancy a session in the outdoors, doing the sort of things you did when you were young, then contact Mrs Bridewell in the office or our Forest School Leader, Mrs Pender.