A Sefton-based research project by The Mersey Forest and Liverpool John Moores University on the benefits to children of outdoor lessons has scooped a national award.
The Natural Play in the Forest study followed the progress of 17 Year Two pupils from Norwood Primary School (picture one above) to see how they benefited from regular lessons in woodland environments over a period of 12 weeks. Sessions included den building, mini-beast hunting and fire safety, with activities for the participants' families also taking place, both in and out of school.
Researchers found that the 'Forest School' sessions improved the children's confidence, social skills and knowledge and interest in the natural world. The children's outdoor imaginative play at home also increased.
This summer the project won a National Recognition award at a symposium on Children's Physical Activity Interventions as part of the build up to the 16th Annual Congress of the European College of Sports Sciences, which this year was held in Liverpool (picture two above).
Since the research project, a further 2,500 children in Sefton and the rest of The Mersey Forest area have gone on to take part in Forest School lessons.
The research project and The Mersey Forest's work to embed Forest Schools in local primaries were both funded through Natural England's Natural Connections programme.