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Wilstead Forest School

Forest School update - Summer 2021

 

This year Mrs Ainsworth, who has her Level 3 Qualification as a Forest school Leader, has been working alongside the team to bring Wilstead's Forest school to life! Watch this space for some photographs of the children's recent work - we are so grateful to Mrs Ainsworth for her hard work and support.

 

Mrs Cropley is undertaking her Level 3 Forest School Leadership Training. Here, she tells us a little about why Wilstead promotes the Forest School approach!

 

'As a society, we have become very disconnected with nature.  More and more time is spent indoors, on technology rather than exploring the world around us.  We buy our food from the supermarket and no longer spend time growing what we intend to eat.  This disconnection is having a profound impact on the mental health and wellbeing of our society.  As a school and part of a farming community we believe that it is important for the children of Wilstead to reconnect with the natural world and we plan to use Forest School as a means to achieve this.' 

What is Forest School? Mrs Cropley explains...

 

'The idea of Forest Schools originated in Scandinavia in the 1980s, a country where an active outdoor lifestyle is embraced and embedded in society. In 1993 a group of nursery nurses from Somerset visited a Danish Forest School and witnessed first-hand the benefits to children’s well-being and development.  Research showed that ‘the children were far happier than children in urban kindergartens.  The children also demonstrated greater social capability, fewer days off sick, more ability to concentrate and better co-ordination than the city kindergarten children.’ The nursery nurses were so impressed with the ethos and approach that they were keen to develop their own programme.  This was when Forest Schools was first introduced to the UK.  Since then it has been recognised that this ‘outdoor’ approach to play and learning can have a huge impact on the normal development of all children.’

 

Forest School has now been introduced across most Educational Boroughs (including Bedford Borough). It receives support from the Forestry Commission and the Wildlife Trusts.  Wilstead is situated in Marston Vale, and their Forest Centre education team recently came and planted trees with our children in the school grounds.  The Forest School Association have a Facebook page and there are several supportive Forest School Facebook groups to join enabling networking, sharing of best practice and ideas.

 

So what is Forest School? ‘Forest School is an outdoor educational experience, usually in a woodland area, that takes place regularly over an extended period of time led by a trained practitioner’ (Knight 2011).

 

Forest School allows children to problem solve and enables their self-discovery and growth in confidence. They can experience success, take risks, build relationships with others and challenge themselves in a safe and natural environment.  Each session is designed to be learner-centred and typically includes bush-craft; such as den making, using tools for whittling and making wooden objects, fire lighting, tree climbing, arts and crafts.

 

Participation in Forest Schools on a regular basis can help to improve the mental health, resilience and enjoyment of school for children and that this positive outcome also has an impact on increased attendance and educational outcomes for those involved.

 

And this is exactly why Wilstead is adopting this approach to learning!

The beautiful grounds at Wilstead
Reception enjoying a Forest School Session exploring and making Stickmen.

December Working Party

In 2020, we began to develop our beautiful school grounds to enable us to begin offering Forest School and Outdoor Learning provision. Here are some photographs of the work in progress - keep any eye out for updates here! 

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