Forest School offers a unique approach to teaching the curriculum and encouraging active play through using the natural environment. Studies have shown that children spend less time playing in nature than in the past – Forest School is one way of addressing that, increasing physical activity and boosting health and wellbeing as well as developing confidence and new skills. The sessions allow children to play, explore and learn about the natural environment and do activities like shelter-building, outdoor cooking, growing plants, using tools and bug-hunting.
During her visit to Sutton Manor Primary School Mrs. Leadsom met pupils from Years 3 - 6 and trainee Forest School leaders Helen Lomas and John Prescott at their weekly Forest School session, toasting on the fire and making log hedgehogs.
Sutton Manor Primary School has been funded by local company NGF Europe, a member of NSG Group. Employees have helped to prepare the woodland for Forest School, worked with the children to extend the school woodland and fund support for Forest School sessions. At recent planting days staff and every child in the school took part in planting over 500 saplings as well as 25 more mature trees – a long term commitment by the school to run Forest School in the grounds.
Just before Christmas, the school woodland saw its first mixed year group of Year 3- 6 children take part in six weeks of Forest School. The children selected to take part were those with identified additional needs such as looked after children, behavioural difficulties, attainment at a lower level than their peers. Children from KS1 are now participating in a six week forest school project and every class has had a taster session of Forest Schools before Christmas.
The work is part of a project by The Mersey Forest which aims to introduce 'Forest School' to urban areas where children often have limited access to green space.
Monica Gladman, Head Teacher said, 'The Forest School sessions have already positively impacted on the children, improving their confidence, and providing a calming environment for learning. The children have learnt to enjoy exploring the outdoors and have been responsible for leading their own learning, working co-operatively as a team and making decisions together. We aim for a forest School approach to be embedded into our curriculum.'