Flying High Academy children enjoy their own Forest School!
Children at The Flying High Academy, Ladybrook have been enjoying the sunshine in their own Forest School.
Mathew Vernon is a Teaching Assistant and Forest School Lead at the school and says the children love learning outdoors. "All children at The Flying High Academy have access to the Forest School and the area can be used for a range of learning opportunities. I work alongside Teachers to deliver lessons on a topic or specific area of the curriculum, and evidence shows that learning out of doors makes children’s lessons particularly memorable. The Forest School is also used for pastoral support within school. Here I assist specific learning needs of individual children through skill-based sessions, focused on wellbeing and social skills.”
Mathew says there are a range of advantages for children who have access to outdoor classrooms. "Having a Forest School is shown to be beneficial for all areas of children’s development. The ethos of Forest School is based around a learner centred approach to support the holistic development of children. In this way, children are encouraged to learn a range of skills that they may not be able to access in the classroom, promoting the safe use of tools, teamwork and creativity in a natural environment.
"Children are able to take part in projects to plan and build using natural resources, enhancing their ability to problem solve and think of logical solutions to create their final project, such as a den. The forest also provides a calm environment for children, allowing time out of the busy school building, this can help children socially and emotionally within the safety of their group.”
Mathew says many schools have outdoor learning spaces, but to be considered a Forest School, requires an accredited and qualified Forest School Leader, fluent with teaching in an outdoor environment and the additional considerations that brings.
"Our school is very lucky to have a small young woodland on site, meaning that children can have regular and easy access to Forest School sessions,” added Mathew. "Our children have a first-hand view of the changing seasons in the forest and learn about maintaining the natural environment in their school. Children take part in a range of different sessions depending on their year group, from creating pictures using nature to cutting up and cooking food on a campfire.
"Their sessions link to specific parts of the national curriculum, to EYFS provision and to the enquiries in the classroom, such as learning about fire safety and why the houses burned so easily in the Great Fire of London in Year 2. The beauty of Forest School is that it can fit into all areas of the curriculum. Some of the skills that we teach at FHA Ladybrook are foraging, fire safety, knot tying, den building, identifying flora and fauna to name but a few.”
Pupil Amy is in Year 5 and said she enjoys having access to Forest School. "At Forest School, we do fun activities like making dens and doing a rope maze. We learned how to use tools like lopping shears. My favourite activity is when we decorated a stick with feathers and flowers.”
Year 4 pupil Liliana said she also enjoys the practical side of activities, "We learn about knots and tools and what we would eat if we got lost in a forest. We learn about the different wildlife and to be careful whenever we are in a forest.” Fellow Year 4 pupil Declan also likes to learn about nature and said, "At Forest School we learn about different kinds of mushrooms, flowers and food and we usually build up the den.”
Younger pupils like Mitchell in Year 1 also have access to the Forest School. "I enjoy catching bugs and pretending to be Robin Hood and we helped Mr Vernon make a shelter with sticks and ropes.” Fellow Year 1 pupil Riley said, "I enjoyed playing ‘the floor is lava’ and using the logs to get across. We pretended to be a bug and also made our own bug up!”
Mathew says that children are encouraged to understand and protect wildlife in their natural habitat. "We are planning to widen the range of sessions and skills that children in our school can access, as well as expand within our multi-academy trust, The Flying High Trust, to provide Forest School learning to a wider range of children across the county.”