What is Forest School?
Forest School is a child-led inspirational learning process that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions.
Forest School offers children the opportunity to engage with the natural world, to learn life skills, to build confidence, independence, resilience, curiosity and improve their mental well-being. It provides children the opportunity to be inspired, enhance communication, build self-esteem, enhance their creativity and even learn how to use bushcraft tools. It also teaches them how to care for their environment and how to protect it and nurture it for future generations. All of these experiences and skills are transferable into the classroom and into the big wide world.
The Forest School concept originates in Denmark, originally aimed at pre-school children, where it was found that children who had attended forest school then arrived at school with strong social and communication skills, having the ability to work in groups effectively, generally had high self-esteem and a confidence in their own abilities. These foundations helped them to raise their academic achievements and made them more rounded people.
Where is Forest School?
Our Forest School site is located on the school grounds between the bicycle/scooter rack and the reception playground. It is a secure space and has a wooden fence surrounding the site.
Our Forest School Leader
Hayes Primary School’s Forest School Leader is Sarah Warner. Sarah has been volunteering at local Forest Schools since November 2020 where she has gained invaluable experience working with preschool aged children as well as primary school aged children. Sarah completed her Forest School training in 2021 and qualified in 2023. In September 2022, Sarah ran a pilot Forest School scheme at Hayes Primary School for a group of year 3 children. The scheme was a resounding success and Forest School is now offered to every year group at Hayes Primary School. Sarah has a current Enhanced DBS check and is qualified in Outdoor First Aid.
Forest School Logistics
We aim for each class to experience nine Forest School sessions over the academic year. Each session will last approximately one hour and the whole class goes together along with the class Teacher, Teaching Assistant and any designated 1-1 staff.
The sessions will take place whatever the weather, however, safety will always come first. If there are strong winds, gusts over 35 mph, thunderstorms or lightning which exposes the session participants to unacceptable risk, the Forest School Leader may decide to cancel the session or where possible, move it to the field or inside the school building.
Parents will receive a letter the half term before your child’s session starts informing you of the session dates and clothing requirements. We aim for children to experience Forest School Sessions in each season during their time at Hayes Primary School.
What do we do at Forest School?
Our Forest School Leader (and parent volunteers) meet us as the reception playground and after our introductions and headcounts, we go into the Forest School site together. We sit down at the fire circle seating area, discuss our Forest School rules and what activities are available. The children are then free to choose what they would like to do. For some children, they may just dig in the mud for the whole session, others may want to go hunting for bugs or swing in the hammock for some quiet time.
Whatever they decide to do, the children are fulfilling their particular need at that moment in time. Children are always encouraged and supported to manage risks themselves through play and real-life experiences. At the end of each session, the children enjoy a hot chocolate and a biscuit followed by reflection time and a discussion on what they may like to do at the next session.
Activities at Forest School
Below are some of the activities your child may enjoy at Forest School:
- Shelter building
- Mud kitchen
- Making potions
- Bug hotels / habitats
- Bug hunting
- Tree swing
- Imaginary play
- Seasonal crafts using natural materials
- Tool safety talk and tool use such as secateurs, loppers, hammers, bow saw, hand drills etc
- Tree and Leaf Identification
- Sing songs
- Play team games
Forest School Benefits
The benefits of Forest School are endless. Forest School helps to:
- Build self-esteem & self-awareness
- Improve social skills
- Assist language & communication skills
- Provide a hands-on learning experience
- Provide cross-curriculum learning opportunities
- Provide alternative education opportunities
- Provide a more natural learning environment (classroom without walls)
- Promote independence
- Promote team working
- Enable the learning of new skills
- Enhance fine motor skills
- Enhance physical development
- Promote respect and appreciation of the natural environment
The children will get muddy and wet and the right clothing will not only keep them dry, but also prevent them from scratches and bites. The correct clothing will make their Forest School session far more enjoyable. It is imperative that children bring in spare clothes, otherwise they may be wearing wet clothes for the remainder of the school day. The school does have some spare clothes, but supplies may run out during the days we have multiple Forest School Sessions.
On the days the children have Forest School, they should come to school dressed in their PE kit. The class who has a session at 9.15am, should come to school dressed in waterproofs and will change into their wellies at school.
Children’s Clothing List
- PE t-shirt
- Long sleeve top
- Leggings / tracksuit bottoms
- Warm coat during winter months
- Waterproof jacket
- Waterproof trousers
- Warm socks
- Wellies or walking boots
- Gloves and hat during winter months
Children’s Spare Clothes:
Every child should come to school with a spare set of clothes in a named bag and should include:
- Knickers / pants
- PE t-shirt
- Long sleeve top
- Leggings / tracksuit bottoms
Every child should come to school with a named empty bag for their wet clothes. After the Forest School session, the children will change from any wet clothes into their dry clothes. They will put all of the wet clothes into the “wet bag”. Please ensure all the items of clothing are named. The “wet bag” should be separate from their school bag.
Cancellation due to Extreme Weather
Although forest school sessions run in all weathers, safety will always come first. If there are strong winds, gusts over 35 mph, thunderstorms or lightning which exposes the session participants to unacceptable risk, the Forest School Leader may decide to cancel the session or where possible, move it to the field or inside the large hall.
We have a team of parents who volunteer their time each week at the Forest School sessions. If you have a passion for the great outdoors and would like to volunteer, please contact Sarah Warner via the school office email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Forest School Sessions are run on a Monday from 9.15am – 11.45am and 12.45pm – 3.05pm and on a Thursday from 1.30pm – 2.30pm. All volunteers must hold a current Enhanced DBS check before they can volunteer.
If you have any questions relating to Forest School, please contact Mrs Field or Mrs Warner via the school office email address: email@example.com.