Your Questions Answered
Where did Forest School originate?
Originating in Sweden in the 1950s, forest schooling was soon adopted by Denmark for their early years provision. In the mid 1990s students from Bridgewater College Somerset, visited Denmark and set up the first British Forest School. The concept is now gaining momentum and many Local Education Authorities are embracing the idea.
Why did you become a Forest School?
In 2008 Sallianne Robinson our Area Director was completing her Early Years Foundation Degree. The final thesis compared our UK’s Early Years Curriculum to a foreign one. Lesley the Managing Director stumbled across an article about a Swedish Forest School. After investigating the research we knew the Surrey Hills were perfect and launched the education in 2009.
How do we train our staffs?
All Forest Sessions have at least one fully qualified leader to Level 3; but the norm is to have two or three present. We train our staffs with the Sussex and Surrey Wildlife Trusts. As part of the 12 month qualification, Leaders also complete a 2 day Outdoor Emergency First Aid course in addition to the standard 12 hour Paediatric Certificate.
We also have a number of staffs qualified to Forest Assistant Level 2.
All staffs are trained in managing risk and hazards, emergency drills and core ratio staff are qualified Nursery Nurses to NVQ3 and above.
Other staffs have also attended ‘The Outdoors Curriculum’ training at Alice Holt provided by the Woodlands Trust.
What are the benefits of Forest School?
Benefits observed in our children are:
- Sessions lead only by the children’s curiosity, deepen hands on learning with remarkable long term recall.
- Trust in each other and their teachers give our children space to push personal boundaries and strengthen self esteem.
- Given time to investigate hazards around them, children can assess the risks and decide how to make them safe. This develops a confident and independent child.
- Exploration and physical exertion, walking, climbing, leaf skiing and tyre rolling, increase the stamina. They never complain about the weather.
- Creative thinking is the foundation of creative writing. The sense of freedom, awe and wonder in woodland encourages the most extraordinary story telling from even the quietest children.
- We have found that our outside teaching can stimulate, inspire and motivate even the most reluctant learners.
How are risks managed?
Children decide what they think the ‘rules of play’ should be around hazards. As they have made the rules, they stick to them and then teach their peers. If an adult makes the rules they naturally try to push boundaries and break them to test the adult’s theory.