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Forest School

This is the best kind of classroom, where the seasons don’t happen in books. Where the learning is watching and thinking and talking and everyone notices, everyone looks.

 From ‘The best kind of classroom’ by Ian MacMillan

Great Milton Cof E Primary Forest School was established in April 2017 in the Foundation Stage Unit and extended to Key Stage 1 in June 2017. By October 2017, all classes across the school were enjoying Forest School as part of the outdoor curriculum.

The Forest School development came from our desire to provide a curriculum beyond the classroom, making the most of our rural setting. Children attending Great Milton Cof E Primary Forest School (GMPFS) are able to develop a lifelong understanding of the natural environment, whilst developing self-esteem, confidence and social skills.

Children take part in carefully planned activities which enables them to excel in all areas of their personal, academic and spiritual development. The children acquire new skills as they are ready for them, so that activities can maintain a degree of challenge and excitement, whilst remaining safe. Forest Schools greatly supports the ethos at Great Milton Cof E Primary school; children will experience the outside environment in all weathers.

The Forest School sessions take place on the school grounds. When we want to extend the children's skills and experience, we can walk to the Jack Peers Outdoor Centre and enjoy additional activities in a real woodland environment. 

Forest School Staffing

Nikki Howlett – Forest School Leader

  • Forest School leader OCN level 3
  • Forest School First Aid  (16 hours)
  • NQV 3 in Early Years Care and Education

Staff from the class taking part in the Forest School sessions are included in the staff/ child ratio.

What will my child be doing?

Forest School will be run all year, in all weather (unless the conditions are dangerous). The child-led ethos of Forest School means that once on site,  the children can choose what activity to do, carefully supported by the adults.

Forest School activities may vary depending on the season and the age of the children. They may include:

  • Muddy Faces (on trees, not children’s faces), mud sculptures
  • Going on a minibeast hunt
  • Pond dipping
  • Climbing trees
  • Building dens and knot tying
  • Natural crafts — dreamcatcher/wind chimes, weaving and collages
  • Using tools for a purpose

Forest School sessions are planned around the individual’s and group needs and built upon each week. The first few sessions will concentrate on establishing boundaries and routines. The children have a big input to this. Once the children have developed in confidence, the session focus will be on developing skills. The sessions will give the children time to share and reflect on their experiences. 

The children may come home muddy, even if it has not been raining. They will need:

  • Waterproof trousers and coat, even in the summer. 
  • Sun hat and sun cream (summer)
  • Long sleeved top and trousers (all seasons to protect their skin)
  • Gloves/Hat (winter/cold weather)
  • Wellingtons
  • Change of clothes

What are the benefits of my child participating in Forest School?

Forest Schools supports the holistic development of the child.

  • Increased emotional wellbeing – being confident and self-reliant.
  • Health and fitness – being active in an outside, natural environment.
  • Social development – communicating and negotiating with children and adults to solve problems and share experiences.
  • Skills development – developing fine and gross motor skills and coordination for real purposes.
  • Gaining knowledge and understanding – using all of our senses, problem solving and real-life learning.
  • Individualised learning – careful observation allows adults to tailor support to children’s own interests and stage of development.
  • Curriculum links – Forest School supports many areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage FrameworkNational Curriculum and the Every Child Matters agenda.