Forest School

Introduction

The development of Forest Schools at Villa Real School is seen as an entitlement for all pupils within the school, from 2- 19 years in order to ensure that all our pupils are given every opportunity to develop self confidence, problem solving, self esteem and risk management skills.

Definition

The teaching of Forest Schools is undertaken throughout all phases of the school both in time specifically allocated to the subject and across the outdoor learning curriculum. Pupils are taught in key stage class groups by three Forest Schools leaders. Rachael Richardson, Michelle Rutherford and Andy Jack are BTEC Advanced Level 3 leaders and can deliver Forest Schools sessions to other establishments and on other sites. This teaching aims to develop skills, promote the acquisition of knowledge and understanding and offer opportunities for experience in the area of investigating, making, knowledge and understanding of Forest Schools. For some pupils and students this requires a multi-sensory curriculum designed to enhance their experience of, and ability to respond to, learning situations and their environment, including other people. Forest Schools sessions at Villa Real are based on the following areas:

Orienteering and Trail work

Shelters and campcraft

Bushcraft skills

Fire skills and cooking

Tools and green woodworking

Creativity and rural / heritage crafts

Local biodiversity

Education for Sustainability

Environmental awareness

Scope

Forest Schools sessions apply equally to all students and pupils in the school, with full consideration being given to each individual’s specific needs in relation to the development of Forest Schools. As part of that process, advice and guidance is sought, where appropriate, from other professionals working in school in a peripatetic capacity – including speech therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, educational psychologists and teachers specialising in the education of pupils with multiple disabilities & multi sensory impairment or complex and multiple learning difficulties. Teaching staff expertise is also shared and relevant training is undertaken and disseminated to other staff. Lessons are planned to ensure that there are no barriers to any pupil achieving. This is in accordance with the SEN code of practice. A minority of pupils will need access to specialist equipment and different approaches. Many of these resources are aids which pupils use as part of their daily life. Leaders plan lessons in a robust and rigorous way so that these pupils’ areas of difficulty are identified and addressed at the outset of any work in order to maximise every potential to make progress and achieve.

Rationale

Villa Real School recognises the importance of providing opportunities for the experience of Forest Schools and the acquisition of skills, knowledge and understanding to as high a level as possible by each pupil in order to facilitate their overall cognitive and social development. We also try to ensure that all pupils are provided with the opportunities to freely express themselves as creatively as possible and value this self expression as a form of visual communication.

Entitlement

Pupils in the EYFS cohort, follow Early Learning Goals. At Key Stage 1 and 2, pupils follow the National Curriculum and it is expected that  Villa Real School will be adopting the new Primary National Curriculum in the near future. Pupils at Key Stage 3 follow the International Primary Curriculum. This will be extended into KS4 in 2014 / 2015. Students at Key Stage 5, in the VI form will be exploring art and design within a new curriculum. They currently follow an Asdan Personal Progress curriculum but this may be changing next year. The scheme of work for Forest Schools covers all of the above Key Stages. An assessment tool and an accreditation for Key Stage 3 and above is currently being explored. Forest Schools will be specifically linked to the Triad of Impairment for those who have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Knowledge, skills and understanding

 

  • Individually and in different groupings.
  • At a level appropriate to individual needs, abilities and ages from the earliest  stages to those skills, knowledge, understanding and experience necessary for independent living.
  • Using a wide range of resources and materials appropriate to needs, abilities and age.

Breadth of study

Investigation into different kinds of :

Orienteering and Trail work

Shelters and campcraft

Bushcraft skills

Fire skills and cooking

Tools and green woodworking

Creativity and rural / heritage crafts

Local biodiversity

Education for Sustainability

Environmental awareness

This will include examples from different times and cultures (not all Western European) through visits to woodlands, local countryside and other educational establishments.

 

Learning across the National Curriculum

Forest Schools provides opportunities to promote

  • Spiritual development
  • Moral development
  • Social development
  • Cultural development

Forest Schools is also taught within cross curricular activities with other curriculum subjects as the transfer of skills and concepts facilitates learning and is an appropriate activity for pupils who are unable to read or write, this is particularly suitable for environmental humanities, science work, art and design, food technology and adventurous outdoor learning.

Key  Skills

Opportunities to develop cross curricular skills in both numeracy and literacy are offered in all areas of the curriculum including Forest Schools. Aspects of the Forest Schools curriculum are planned to include the development of language and communication, social development, cultural awareness and promote self esteem.

Forest Schools provides opportunities for pupils and students to develop the Key Skills of:

  • Communication
  • Application of number
  • Risk assessment and management
  • Working with others
  • Improving pupils’ own learning and performance
  • Problem solving (and team building)
  • Literacy skills

 Promotion of other aspects of the curriculum through Forest Schools.

  • Thinking skills
  • Enterprise and entrepreneurial skills
  • Work related learning
  • Education for sustainable development.
  • Creative and imagination skills

Aims

This school believes that the aim of the Forest Schools curriculum is to enable each pupil and student to develop his/her full potential for:

 

  • Making and justifying decisions including risk management.
  • Tackling problems confidently.
  • An awareness and understanding of themselves, their home, their environment and the world around them.
  • Self-expression through Forest Schools
  • As great a degree of independence as is attainable.
  • Self-advocacy i.e. the ability to make and communicate choices

Requirements / expectations

Each area of the Forest Schools curriculum is taught throughout the school within levels dictated by the needs and abilities of individual pupils and students, and with regard to the age appropriateness of content and/or style. Individual levels of attainment in all areas will be monitored and recorded by class teachers using systems developed in school. Where appropriate, class teachers will liase with other professionals in developing effective and appropriate teaching/learning situations and monitoring individual progress.

The school intends to provide the resources and opportunities for training necessary for teaching and non-teaching staff to put the policy into practice.

School based time will be used to:

 

  • Share and develop teaching strategies and skills.
  • Familiarise leaders with available teaching resources.

 

This school believes that the teaching of Forest Schools is fundamentally important to the whole of the curriculum for our pupils and students. We are committed to providing full opportunities for each individual to achieve the aims described above.