Exploring the outdoors
The girls enjoy our extensive grounds, despite being so close to the centre of London. They explore the trails, paths, trees and scrubs in our secret garden.
Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland education. It entails regular and repeated access to the same natural space, where learning is experiential, enquiry oriented and play based. Sessions are based on themes – perhaps an investigation or exploration, and activities are open ended. Unlike classroom-based lessons, there are no outcomes to be achieved and learning can be different for each child.
Each week our Year 1 and 2 classes have Forest School sessions for a morning or afternoon in the natural wooded area at the bottom of the school grounds. This area is well sheltered with tree canopies and is inhabited by a variety of flora and fauna. Sessions are led by teachers with Level 3 Forest School training and Outdoor First Aid qualifications.
What are the benefits of Forest School?
- Personal and social development – improving communication skills, working with others.
- Physical activity and movement – fine and gross motor skills development.
- Resilience – problem solving and persistence.
- Confidence – self-esteem, positive attitude, taking more risks, showing initiative, intrinsic motivation.
- Wellbeing – fun and enjoyment, restoration, stress reduction.
- Cognitive impacts – knowledge and understanding about the world around them and respect for their environment.
What do our pupils think of Forest School?
I like digging in the mud and making houses for little creatures.
Isabel, Year 1
I like going in all the bushes and jumping in the mud.
Thomasina, Year 1
It’s great! I made a giant zip wire and clothes on pegs for fairies.
Phoebe, Year 1
We make lots of shelters for little people. You get to see little creatures too.
Mimi, Year 2
You can find really nice dens in the nature area. Once I hid in the best hiding spot and met a robin.
Imogen, Year 2
It’s fun setting up a big swing and the big hammock.
Zoe, Year 2
What do our parents think of Forest School?
The Forest School format, involving a new storyline each week, gives the girls a mystery to solve or a common goal to achieve. Not only is it a source of great excitement for the girls but it also builds a real sense of camaraderie and teamwork.”
In only half a term I’ve seen a new resilience and enthusiasm for adventure in my daughter that is beautiful. Every week I look forward to hearing what varied and enriching activities the children have busily undertaken in their forest education.
Forest School is a definite highlight of the week. It’s so special, as the girls can allow their imaginations to run free, while at the same time learning about the physical world and the science behind it. The environment seems to be magically set out too, which inspires them all!
What we like about Forest School is that it is not just play; it is learning in the most fun way – with nature – as was intended.
My daugher always comes home from school on Wednesdays looking healthy and happy, thanks to this powerful combination of learning based on creativity and being outdoors.
Dear God, thank you for Forest School…” was how my daughter’s nightly prayers started last Wednesday – that pretty much says it all!
I also believe it is so important for the girls (particularly perhaps as they are girls) to spend time outside in this way because it teaches them to enjoy spending time outdoors in any weather (just appropriately dressed) and without a fear of getting muddy (nothing that soap and washing-up liquid can’t solve).”