At Mere Green Primary School we are very fortunate to have a purpose built Forest School area where children in the EYFS and Key Stage 1 have dedicated weekly time to explore the area and access a range of high quality teaching and learning opportunities delivered by our trained Forest School practitioner and leader, Mr Gordon. As a school, we prioritise children’s well being and mental health and the importance of experiencing a range of outdoor learning. We value the learning that takes place in our Forest School, where children have countless opportunities to grow in confidence and self-esteem through tackling a range of hands on experiences in a natural setting. Furthermore, our children have the opportunity to follow their interest and make choices as they collaborate with their peers to handle risks and develop the skills to solve problems. Our aim is to encourage and inspire children through positive outdoor experiences.
Our commitment to Forest Schools is reflected in the timetable, Mr Gordon teaches Nursery, Reception and KS1 every week. KS2 children also have opportunity through our weekly Forest School club. Forest School builds on a child’s innate motivation and positive attitude to learning, offering them the opportunities to take risks, make choices and initiate learning for themselves. Throughout our Forest School lessons, children develop a growing awareness of their emotional needs and the needs of others. This can be seen through the spaced retrieval of PSHCE knowledge and skills.
At Mere Green, we have developed a skills framework consisting of five core skills, which are built upon in each year group. The five core skills cover tool use, fire, knots, cooking methods and nature. In addition to this, ‘mindfulness skills’ run throughout each session, using a ‘Sit Spot’ to encourage time to ‘be in the moment’ by having 5 minutes of peace, using the sense of hearing and smell particularly to enjoy the outdoors. In addition to this, our Forest School leader liaises with class teachers to identify ways that Forest School activities can help support and embed learning within the classroom on current topics.
The children go out in almost all weathers, all year round, exploring and learning from the seasons and environment changes. The children’s interests along with the varied natural resources in our forest school area are used to stimulate creative thinking and problem solving. We promote environmental awareness and encourage sustainability. This promotes our school value of Contribute, as our children have the cultural capital to understand the big issues facing our planet. The children are taught about respect and responsibility for the world around them. This can also be seen through our spaced retrieval of Science learning previously taught throughout the year.
As an apple distinguished school we use iPad to assess and further deepen learning. Socrative and class dojo are just two apps, amongst others, that we use in Forest Schools to capture the learning and to assess understanding pre and post units of work. We ensure lessons appropriately scaffold and challenge pupils learning through a range of planned and freely chosen activities. As per the latest research, our lessons involve collaborative learning experiences with a high level of physical (and often emotional) challenge. Practical problem-solving, explicit reflection and discussion of thinking and emotion lead to an improvement in Metacognition and self-regulation. This promotes our school value of Mental Strength as children are equally supported and challenged to reach their potential. The holistic nature of Forest School teaching lies at the heart of our practice at Mere Green Primary School and naturally supports cross-curricular learning as well as promoting our values: Thrive, Contribute and Mental Strength.
Please see our skills framework for Forest School and further information about the Forest School initiative.
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