Wild Forest School

Image: Paul Cooper

Forest School is an inspirational process that offers children and young people opportunities to achieve and develop their confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences (usually) in a local woodland environment.

With trained Forest School practicioners, we run a Forest Schools site at Queenswood Country Park.

For further information, please contact Hayley Herridge on 01432 530088 or email h.herridge@herefordshirewt.co.uk.

What is Wild Forest School?

Image: Paul CooperWild Forest School is our woodland classroom; this offers the benefits of learning through play in the outdoors. We use the rich natural diversity of the woodland environment to help build confidence, sensitivity, resilience and curiosity. Sessions normally have a theme, such as fire, species ID or bush craft skills, however we encourage children to explore their own ideas and creativity during sessions. We always strive to follow the interests of the children and young people; we do this by putting the learner at the heart of their own learning journey.

  • Forest school is suitable for children and young people of all ages.
  • Our sessions will be advertised with the age range it is suitable for as these will vary.
  • All of our lead staff all have Level 3 Forest School qualifications, as well as additional outdoor play qualifications and bush craft skills.
  • Forest school is even fun and therapeutic for adults. Please enquire for a bespoke session.

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust are now working with the newly affiliated group Herefordshire Forest Schools to develop a stronger forest school network and profile in Herefordshire.

Benefits of forest school

Be Healthy

Outdoor play and education has many physical and mental health benefits. Sessions always take place outdoors in any weather! We are also always busy and active in the woodland keeping children physically fit and healthy. This interest in the woodland has a wonderful knock-on effect at home with children wanting to replicate their experiences with us and visit local parks and woodlands near home. As the children start to gain confidence we start to see improvements on their self-esteem resulting in a positive impact on their emotional and mental wellbeing.

Stay Safe

Image: Paul CooperIt’s important for us as forest school leaders to encourage C&YP to take acceptable risks during forest school. The Welsh Government Play Sufficiency Toolkit (2012) states: ‘children need to feel free to experience risk and challenge of their own volition and they will only be able to do this if we allow some degree of uncertainty to remain.’ We do this by providing opportunities to experience good, balanced and managed risks i.e. climbing trees, use of tools, building dens, hunting for bugs, playing in mud, making campfires and cooking on campfires to name just a few. As well as playing in the elements - playing out whatever the weather, whether it’s sunny, raining, snowing, windy or cold. All of these activities are closely supervised so children do not become harmed unnecessarily but with room for children to explore and push the boundaries. When we are encouraging what may be perceived as a risky activity, we discuss the risks with the children first, asking them to set their own boundaries (with the help of the leader) and getting them to set their own group agreement. Rules they are more likely to stick to if they are created by themselves. Alongside our own vigorous risk assessments and all staff running such sessions are trained to us dynamic risk assessments continuously weighing the benefit of the activity verses the risk. 

Enjoy and Achieve 

Forest school offers so many opportunities to develop team working skills as well as autonomy. It develops respect and understanding for the natural world that is unique and can often spark an interest developing into a lifelong love of the outdoors. Learning in the outdoors offers a new context in which children can undertake and master practical activities and complete small self-chosen or direct tasks.

Make a positive contribution

While children are busy building their confidence at forest school they don’t always notice and this begins to cross over into other parts of their lives. Children who struggle in the traditional classroom begin to thrive and learn transferable skills, ones that they take with them i.e. problem solving, being able to work as a part of a group and risk assessing for themselves.

Image: Paul Cooper
 

Training for Forest School Leaders