Forest School and Social Distancing

Week 1 getting all 12 'bubbles' outside for a reduced form of Forest School was interesting! We are abiding by our own risk assessment and amended rules and procedure as we go. No bubble has more than 15 pupils in and as every school is finding there are hidden difficulties and sudden incidents that make implementing Social Distancing INSIDE the building difficult at times. OUTSIDE I can confirm it is just as fraught!

The space is there for them to move around in, there are multiple trees offering climbing opportunities, but children do like to form groups and interact. Trying to stop them is to go against human nature and requires a lot of discussion, reminding, nagging....

I've said before that part of our assessment is the fact that Covid-19 spreads slower outside. The wind and air circulates the virus quickly and UV light from the sun helps destroy it, so based on the current scientific advice, a 9 acre space with sky for a ceiling and no obvious walls is probably the safest school environment for children and staff

To try and stop the congregation of all classmates we are aiming to ensure there are well spaced activities to explore. 
There are sticks and branches, a few pallets and the odd tyre for building dens, we have cut back some of the shrubs to allow new paths and tunnels to explore, and we are creating some basic den structures to add to and adapt. 
We've added a couple of new rope swings and started using some of the more unexplored areas with the Year 6s.

This is a compromise. 
Forest School usually starts from scratch and returns the woods to their original status, but right now the need to try to keep the children apart is the biggest consideration. 

Usual activities with tools are difficult, partly because each tool needs wiping over between uses, but mostly because with the children spread out across the site the Forest School Leader can't be anchored to a tool area. Staff need to 'patrol', remind the children to distance, be there to listen to their ideas, be there to help them move those ideas forward.

I always see Forest School as one part of Outdoor Learning. It's a part I understand well, it's routine and it's aims. It's so good for focusing on teamwork, which now needs a whole different way of functioning!

The children have all responded well to having this version of Forest School, to being outside. They are working together, they are mostly distancing, they are certainly staying within their 'bubble', and they are stumbling across new things to explore and learn, and discovering old skills they can use different ways.

EYFS are stepping out for the first time and finding that wide trees that have the space to accommodate 2 children at once are a great place to climb. Actually staff are discovering this also...

They are fascinated by grass taller than themselves and every new sound and sight that flits past. They are discovering their muscles, using their senses, learning the boundaries of their own bravery - and testing themselves.

KS1 are loving the bugs. Having been outside for a set of Forest School sessions before they revel in reciting Forest School Rules and love exploring and creating something new

KS2 so far have needed to just be OUT! The eldest are enjoying forging new areas to claim as their own, while many of the others are creating distanced chase games and literally developing 'tribes' with 'villages', trading rules, and an never ending movable set of 'laws'!!

Every bubble has been eager to be outside and returns back to their safe space dishevelled, with grass in their hair and dirt on their hands and smiles on their faces. It's going to be hard to decipher exactly what good it is all doing - but it definitely seems to be having a positive effect. 


Popular posts from this blog

Covid-19 Risk Assessment considerations

Forest School Risk Assessment