Local primary school teachers say they are "raring to go" to get kids learning in the great outdoors after whetting their appetite at a Forest School taster day at Clock Face Country Park in St.Helens.
Forest School is an approach to education that was first pioneered in Scandinavia in the 1960s that helps children reconnect with nature through regular outdoor lessons in woodland environments. Research suggests it is now more necessary than ever, with contact with nature becoming increasingly marginalised in young people's lives.
The taster day was led by former headteacher Grahame Watts of The Forest School Experience as part of The Mersey Forest's Access to Nature programme to encourage more people to discover their local woodlands in St.Helens and Liverpool.
The teachers from Willow Tree Primary and Rectory C of E Primary in St.Helens were joined by colleagues from Widnes's Farnworth C of E Primary and Prescot's Evelyn Community Primary, as well as a group of rangers from St.Helens Council and Sefton Council. Together they sampled activities ranging from fire building to storytelling and knot tying to creating artwork from leaves and flowers.
One teacher said:
"It's been great to stimulate my imagination, and learn about activities which I can take back to use with the children."
"The day was fabulous – I didn't want it to end."
The Mersey Forest will now support the teachers to receive further training to become accredited Forest School leaders and make outdoor lessons in local woodlands a regular feature for their pupils.
Jo Sayers of The Mersey Forest said: "Since 2009 we've helped more than 2,500 children across Merseyside and North Cheshire to enjoy Forest School sessions, and it's great to see another new cohort of teachers and rangers inspired and energised to get even more kids interacting with nature."
Access to Nature is a national scheme run by Natural England and funded by the Big Lottery Fund, delivered locally by The Mersey Forest.
The taster day was also part-funded by the EU Interreg IVb programme, as part of the Pure Hubs project.