As we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, with government advice seemingly changing on a daily basis on how best to get children back into school, I can see a glaringly obvious solution.
Get them outdoors!
It’s the solution to enabling class sizes to become smaller and will help children to transition back into classroom learning. This could finally be the time when outdoor learning and forest school can step in to fill the gap in education from home – classroom learning.
Forest School and outdoor learning are two different paths in the same landscape with different outcomes. Outdoor learning taking the national curriculum outdoors and delivering it in a kinaesthetic way which creates longer lasting learning memory because children learn outdoors using all their senses.
Forest school supports social and emotional development and once behavioural and physical boundaries are embedded, becomes child-led. When education becomes child-led, engagement is high and self-esteem builds through a pattern of teamwork, co-operation, review and evaluation. This approach will be vitally important for our most vulnerable children or those who have experienced the harsher end of lockdown. However, it does require low ratios, at least two hours per session and to be at least 12 weeks to see any progression.
Dorset Forest School has responded to this by providing flexible offerings to suit different settings.
- Provide outdoor learning specialists, to deliver the curriculum outdoors.
- Provide qualified and experienced Forest School staff to lead forest school programmes at school sites.
- Offer level 3 training in Outdoor Curriculum Co-ordination
- Offer levels 1,2 and 3 forest school training.
We find settings are as individual at children and so different approaches will suit schools depending on their children, staff and grounds. Which is why the first step of getting in touch is important so we can best advise you on the best course of action.
Forest school is often an acceptable intervention found in primary schools. However, children’s mental health and well being is just as important in secondary schools whether young people have the added pressure of qualifications and puberty. For some, the thought of ‘going back’ will be causing high anxiety. It’s these children we have designed a 12 week integration programme for which sees the first 6 weeks learning bushcraft skills and the second 6 week block where they choose how to use those skills to complete John Muir Award.
Contact Maddy on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07957 390087 for advice on training and Jill on email@example.com or on XXXXX for provision of staff to deliver outdoor learning and forest school.