Posts

Adapting Forest School

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When you are a member of different online Forest School groups you realise the diversity of practice there is to choose from. The differences depend on many things. Some Forest School's provide all day sessions, some all day every day, and need to track what they do as they have a wide curriculum to cover, and if they are providing education in lieu of a state school. Some Forest Schools are independent businesses offering a 2 hour session as child care, or as an educational add on, or as a leisure activity. Some, like ours, are set within a school and are part of the curriculum their school provides. Forest School can therefore be enjoyed on school grounds, or private land, or rented sites. They may be specifically for this use, may share some or all of their space, or may to open to the public. The site used and the reason children attend will influence what a Forest School Leader can offer children in the way of outdoor experiences. None should be judged as better or worse. If y

Planting a Forest

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We are planting our trees mostly to create more hedging, but some will stand alone entities - or will be when they grow longer than than half a metre tall!  the trees came via the Woodland Trust and we have 420 to plant. It's a plan to extend the Forest school area for the future, and to give every child the opportunity to plant their very own tree. This process is going to take up a lot of this term! Each pupil will receive information about the species of their tree and make a label for it. It will also be mapped so we know where it is. For those children in EYFS right now the next 6 years ought to allow a lot of visible growth to monitor. Hopefully for those currently in Year 6 the coming of Spring and Summer 2021 will also show a lot of change. The prep work, digging spaces to plant the new hedges, is a slow process! However it will speed up the actual planting quite a lot. So far, the children seem excited at the mere thought of planting a tree, only a few have actually starte

Lockdown 2 - the sequel

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Heading into Lockdown AGAIN...! As a Forest School within a Primary School we have managed to be open all the time school has been open. Lots of independent Forest Schools are struggling with regulations and ratios and facilities, and the complication of being a small business grouped in with leisure rather than education. It has been a tough time for them to find ways to provide opportunities for the children and families they work with, while we were free to adapt and move forward. Our Covid-19 Risk assessment is up to date and has worked well so we plough forward with it, reviewing it each time a new activity is introduced or guidelines change.  In order to ensure every class gets to experience Forest School we're running Forest School Lite ! A shortened version that means EYFS through to Year 6, plus two SEND classes, have an outdoor session with the Forest School Leader each week. It is hectic. It's not Forest School in any traditional way, but it is working. The children

On Pause

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Working 'Term Time Only' doesn't mean I won't end up being around children at Half Term, nor does it mean I won't be surrounded by forest on my days off!  With Covid still lurking it is safer - even if not demanded in all areas - to meet outside, and nowhere is better than amongst the trees! For those of you who have not attempted shinrin yoko , I can highly recommend a family stroll or a solo adventure through the woods ! A week's hiatus for Forest School, but still the chance to enjoy the woods and the trees, and the turn of the season! I will happily wander alone too. Wellies and waterproofs, fresh air and a chance to unwind! I love Autumn, even the dull and grey bits! The wet and puddly bits are great if you're dressed for it, and damp weather pretty much guarantees you the space to yourself as others stay home! But if you haven't been out in the chilly air and returned home damp, then the hot shower, hot chocolate and huge sweater wasn't apprec

Forest School Celebration

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We were a bit sad to miss actual Forest School Day on the 9th of October but Friday is the only day Forest School doesn't run sessions! So last week we continued with our ongoing provision through rain and shine and set aside this week as a celebration of the end of term. Autumn is really bursting forth, the colours are glowing, there's a nip in the air, and the mornings are oh so late starting! In fact, down a dark, dark lane there's a dark, dark Village... In the dark, dark Village there's a dark, dark Street... In the dark, dark Street there's a dark, dark School... In the dark, dark School there's a dark dark Forest School... In the dark dark Forest School there's a dark, dark Basecamp... And that dark, dark Basecamp is waiting... Today is the end of Term 1 in Kent, the end of half term for many, and the constant turn seasons brings Forest School into full Autumn. For seven weeks all of KS1 and KS2 have been coming outside once a week for a reduced Fores

What The Kids Think of Forest School

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I can't judge how well the children have settled back into school life after Covid wreaked havoc on their routines, family life, education, and altered the way they lived. The virus obviously hasn't gone, it's still influencing all those things. School this Autumn is very different to school last Autumn. Even school last Winter, the Spring it all changed, and for those who experienced a classroom this Summer, things are different. Schools are evolving, reacting, adapting and responding to what their particular pupils need, while considering National Guidance and the constant threat of Local Lockdowns. I don't teach the children in class. I'm a Dedicated Forest School Leader, I see the children outside only, for whatever activities I have planned. I follow their interests and progression but can't judge how different their behaviour or attitude is within their indoor school life. All the children who come outside arrive smiling, they emit an energy, they are chat

Outdoors In Sun & Rain

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UG! What a week! I can cope with rain, with hail, sleet and especially snow 😍, but the wind.... Last weekend Storm Alex battered the South of England, and the North, East, South AND West of Chartham School Grounds. It's very frustrating sitting at home listening to pelting rain and watching bending trees and just having to wait and see what the effect will be on Forest School and other Outdoor Learning areas. Mostly it's an increase of tree debris, occasionally it's the downing of a branch, or bough, or even a tree, frequently it's the arrival of a ridiculous amount of litter blown in from all directions.  Back in January the Wind brought down one of our Elder Trees, which then had to be cut into pieces. We kept the logs for the bug pile, and the chippings to help soak some of the mud, but we were sad to see it go. Clearing up after a storm takes time. If you walked into a trashed classroom you would be mortified - and the space would need to be child friendly and appe