At Pokesdown Community Primary School we want to give our children the best possible opportunities and experiences.
The ethos of Forest School is based on a respect for children and their capacity to initiate, investigate and maintain curiosity in the world around them. It believes in a child's right to play; the right to access the outdoors; the right to experience risk in a controlled way and the right to develop their emotional intelligence.
Forest School is both holistic and nature-based, where practitioners facilitate learner-led exploration and discovery, nurturing meaningful experiences for positive, lifelong impacts (“Today’s effort, tomorrow’s world”). Wellbeing is the foundation of our practice and Forest Schools help to develops social, emotional and physical needs as well as confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands on experiences in a natural setting.
Progression of skills and is based on the Wild Passport and allows for the children to build on previous learning and develop new skills. This is underpinned with the repetition of rules, identifying boundaries, emphasising the importance of safety and making links to their everyday lives.
At Pokesdown Community Primary School we aim to give all children an insight into the ethos of Forest School. We provide them with regular meaningful learning opportunities in a local woodland in all seasons and weathers. The children have freedom to explore and engage in child led activities whilst building on a progression of skills and knowledge based on the ‘Wild Passports’ five key areas of learning; shelter, woodcraft, nature, knots & fire.
The children in Reception have a 20-minute session weekly in the Dell in groups of 10. Years One to Three have fortnightly sessions in a local Woodland in groups of 15. Years Four to Six have a taster session each half term.
Each session is carefully planned following childrens’ interests with a balance of child led learning activities and adult led teaching of key knowledge and skills. The children have access to all the natural resources of the woods, hammocks, a bird hide, a mud kitchen and a woodland library.
Children can access the forest at their own level, be it age related to ability. The recapping of previous skills and knowledge allows access for all. The child-initiated approach gives a greater level of understanding and engagement as the children are actively choosing appropriate equipment or tools that they need.
Children will grow in confidence as a result of the freedom, time and space they are given in their learning. This allows them to demonstrate independence at each individual child’s rate.
The children will begin to understand, assess and manage their own risk and safety. This will allow the children to become more independent and show them that life comes with not only risk but also rewards. It also teaches them what their own limits are and that they can push through them. They will see that sometimes we don’t always get the desired result the first time but that doesn’t make us a failure, it helps us to grow, forcing us to try again in a different way. Forest schools encourages problem solving and logical thinking, self-reflection and evaluation.
Activities such as sharing tools and participating in exploration, help teach the children to work together as a group, which strengthens their bonds and social skills. The review time at the end of each session allows time for this self-reflection and for all children to share their successes.
Children develop an interest in the great outdoors and respect for the natural world around them. The changing seasons and weather offer a wealth of interest and opportunities.
We measure the impact of our curriculum through assessing their practical skills and talking to the children about their learning during reflection (pupil voice).