Monday, 16 November 2020

Forest School Autumn Term 2020

 Ange and Lou have fully risk assessed our Forest School site to keep everyone safe during  COVID-19. A group of Rabbit class children have been enjoying all the benefits of being outside in nature. Here are some of the things that they have been doing:

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

July update

Our Friday sessions of Forest School, led by Ange and Lou have continued. The children have had lots of fun and Ange and Lou have been carefully facilitating play. Some of the things the children have been doing are lighting fires (sometimes in volcanoes), putting up rope swings, using tools, helping with cooking, digging in the ditch and exploring the pond.

I have been continuing my Forest School course. In March and again in June, I was back in the woods near Lawshall with other people on my Green Light Trust course. We found out more about learning theories such as those expressed by Maslow, Piaget and Vygotsky and thought about how these link to the principles of Forest School. We learned more about the importance of play and risk taking in children's learning and development.  We explored the  benefits of Forest School for children's holistic development including the social, physical,intellectual, creative and cognitive, emotional and spiritual benefits. We really started to understand how much research and theory underpins Forest School and just how much the sessions can benefit everyone. 

We learned more about the risk assessments that we will do on our Forest School site. I am now writing risk assessments for this  and the regular activities we will do. I will complete a risk assessment before each session too after checking the site and will be making dynamic risk assessments throughout the day. We discussed creating a handbook which will be a reference and in depth guide for all adults involved in the sessions at Bressingham Forest School and the ethos of it. I am writing it now and it includes the history of Forest School, ecological impact plans, a three year management plan and the roles to the Forest School leader and volunteers. 

In the forest, we also learned some new practical skills including putting up swings and rope bridges in the trees, building different shelters, making a spatula, using a auger and viking weaving. We had a delicious bake off too.We had to make and light a fire and then cook a starter, main course and pudding. It was a real feast as we had deep fried nettles and cleaver, followed by nettle soup, flat bread flavoured with herbs and for desert, we had dropped scones with elderflower syrup and elderflower fritters! 

Now, I am planning a six session block of Forest School for children in Reception. I plan to deliver this in the the Autumn term and my tutor from the Green Light Trust will come out for one of the sessions to assess me as a Forest School Leader.

I have had lots of help with getting our site ready at Bressingham Forest School.
In March, a really hard working group of parents came to help plant our free hedging from the Woodland Trust. Another weekend, Mrs Porter and I went up to Westacre near Kings Lynn to a woodland where we were allowed to coppice some hazel. We had a real adventure including getting the car stuck in the mud when it was full of wood but we came back to school with a supply of poles for den making, branches for disc slices, craftwork and for firewood. I have been researching the possibilities of improving our pond in the woodland area. It would be so useful to make it a really accessible dipping pond but also create a habitat that will bring in more wildlife. We had a great response to a plea for second hand resources and I will be gathering some more things that we will need and applying again for grants to fund this. 

We hope that when Reception class children have had their blocks of Forest School then we we will be able to make Forest School available to more groups of children at Bressingham. These may be half classes in order to keep ratios of adults to children high.We also need to keep reconsidering the ecological impact of us being in the woodland area and the need to mitigate this.

Thank-you for following my Forest School training  journey so far. I am really looking forward to getting all the paperwork done so that I can start facilitating lots of Forest School sessions in addition to the sessions that Ange and Lou already organise. 

Saturday, 2 February 2019

January update

Our Forest School groups have continued this year on Friday afternoons led by Angela Lamb (Forest School Leader).This experience enables the children to make connections with nature, explore woodland and notice changes in the seasons first hand. Children learn new skills including working with wood working tools and also get involved in reciprocal and resourceful activities such as den building, climbing trees and learning to light a campfire safely. 

We would love to offer this really positive experience to more children at Bressingham school and we would like much more of our learning to happen outside. There are some of steps that we have been taking to work towards this. In October, (using money raised by one of our parents who did The Three Peaks Challenge), we had a fantastic team helping to put up some fencing. This fencing helps to define an area for Forest School type activities for Early Years and for use by KS1, KS2  and an after school club.

Also, in October, I started my Forest School Leader Level 3 training. I spent a week from 9.00 am until 5.30 pm every day at the Green Light Trust centre at Lawshall. Most of the training was outside in the Golden Wood or the ancient Frithy Wood and was run like typical Forest School sessions that the children could experience. We lay in the meadow as the rain fell and walked barefoot listening to nature and making connections with it!  We learned about the principles of Forest Schools, we discussed behaviour and what influences it, we learned about risks and hazards in the forest and discussed sustainability.

 During the week, we were learning to tie knots, use tools and to teach children to do the same. I made a mallet, a tent peg, a flag, a shelter, a fire and cooked sausages, dropped scones, baked apples, potatoes and toasted marshmallows. I also made a lot of new friends.

Over a weekend in November, back at Lawshall I completed a 16 hour outside First 
Aid course. Much of this focused on minimizing risk but some of which took place in the dark!

In the Christmas holidays, I completed my first set of assignments. I had to write about the factors that influence behaviour and how these could impact on development and learning at Forest Schools. I completed a handbook about the structures and biodiversity of native broadleaf and coniferous woodland ecosystems, identified flora and fauna on our school site, described woodland management methods and their significance to sustainability. My next assignments are due in May!

Meanwhile, a member of our Bressingham Forest School Friends helped me to put together a grant application for £500 worth of equipment and further training through Learning Through Landscapes. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful with this but there were so many applications from other organisations and we can reapply. However, we were successful in our application for hedging and trees through the Woodland Trust and the hedging will be arriving in the middle of March.

Mrs Porter and I have been in touch with a local tree company and with Redgrave and Lopham Fen about sourcing stakes, branches and tree discs for use in making dens and using tools. We would love to hear from anyone who may be able to help with some tree work and finding resources.

Our immediate next steps will be to:
To arrange a planting session at the end of March, possibly over the weekend of the 23rd or 24th of March.

To apply for any grants we can find to enable us to buy equipment of approximately £500 to get us started and further finance to help us to buy a new storage shed.

To source stakes, branches and tree discs.

We will let you know how we get on!