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Forest lessons for Liverpool pupils

24 May 2016

Children at Garston Primary have swapped their classroom for the great outdoors, enjoying special 'Forest School' sessions in a newly prepared woodland area at Enterprise South Liverpool Academy.

The work is part of a project aiming to introduce Forest School to the most urban sites and schools of Liverpool.

 

The Forest School project offers a unique approach to teaching the curriculum, focusing on the exploration of the natural environment ensuring risk and challenge are at the heart of play experiences.

 

The Mersey Forest is working with children's centres and schools in inner city urban areas who have limited access to green space to help improve health and learning. It's funded by Smurfit Kappa and the Ernest Cook Trust.

 

Over the past few months, Garston Primary School Year 1 pupils have taken part in a total of 12 sessions of Forest School led by Forest School consultancy Branching Out Forest School. The school's own staff are now being trained to teach Forest School so that the lessons can continue for many years to come.

 

Hannah Kennedy, class teacher from Garston Primary said:


"I loved to see the children in a completely different environment, to see the way they solve problems and face challenges, to see their imaginations develop"


"I was also really struck by the change in one little boy who has English as a second language. He would say more to me in the walk to the woods than he does in the rest of the week put together. In the classroom he is very difficult to engage. But out here he is engrossed and engaged!"

 

The aim is to help to reconnect children (and adults) with the natural world, improving learning and health. The project provides a positive natural space for children to learn, instilling positive environmental values that they will carry through to later life.

 

Trudy Rush, from funders Smurfit Kappa, said:


"It was wonderful seeing the children learning in their woodland environment, the delight on their faces going into the woods and their keeness to get involved in all the challenges on site. Forest School clearly has a huge benefit and we are really keen to ensure this opportunity continues to be offered to more urban schools across Liverpool."


For Smurfit Kappa the real test of success is the sustainability of the project, leaving a lasting legacy of Forest School sites, trained teachers and a network of practitioners who can continue to spread Forest School to more schools and children.

 

Jo Sayers, Community Development Officer at The Mersey Forest, who leads the project and supports schools in the development of Forest School across Merseyside and North Cheshire said;


"In the next stage of the project, families will be trained to support their children to take part in natural play. We hope those families will support other families and we will encourage more children to be playing outside in natural spaces."


Recent research by The Mersey Forest with Liverpool John Moores University has shown that Forest School gets children active, to the same level as a PE lesson. This adds to the growing evidence to show that many children also learn better in the natural environment.





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