Forest School – Monkmoor Campus
The Severndale academy site was created in 2009 and is located on a piece of ground within the lower department playground.
It has a mud kitchen and a wooden shelter and lots of shrubs that the children like to hide in. It is this site where most of the students experience their first Forest School sessions from when they are three years old.
The parameters of the site consist of fencing and beech hedging which provide an enclosed safe environment that enables the children to develop independence and confidence whilst exploring freely and safely.
The woodlands at Tickwood farm near Much Wenlock consist of a rich and diverse range of flora and Fauna. The children see new born lambs and calves in the fields as well as the occasional wild deer. Wood peckers, buzzards and robins often fly past the children as they busily participate with Forest School activities. Along the woodland walk children observe the seasonal changes; from the changing colours of autumn leaves and the wealthy crop of blackberries, to the frosted grass and bare branches of the winter and the green carpet of the dogs tooth mercury covering the forest floor and leaf laden branches of the Summer.
There are currently six Forest School sites at Tickwood, one is specifically allocated to our pupils who have profound and multiple learning difficulties and the other sites are used by students who are aged from four to sixteen years old.
The sessions are led by a team of specially trained Forest School leaders who provide the students with a varied range of activities from hunting for mini beasts, cooking on an open fire to using simple tools and many activities in-between.
Forest School has impacted upon our students in many ways; it has developed their independence and confidence which supports their ability to communicate, interact with one another and to develop their own ideas. It also helps the students to become conscientious members of our community through learning how to care for their environment, making them aware of their own safety through self-risk assessment and being responsible for their own belongings and equipment.
Our Caterpillar forest school site is located in Shrewsbury next to the Caterpillar factory. The company kindly allow us to use this site and they also maintain it for us. It has a large field and a woodland area for exploring, a large hill for climbing and sliding down, there is a large expanse of tall grass which is mowed by the Caterpillar staff in the summer to create a maze. The students are able to explore safely and independently.
There is a wooden shelter for snack time, a fire pit area as well as hammocks hanging from the tall trees. The mud kitchen, dig pit and a large woodchip pile are used for a wide variety of imaginative play scenarios from a bakery to a road construction site. We have bird feeding stations which are maintained by the students and are visited by a variety of birds, a willow tunnel for role play.
The students are encouraged to be independent, self-risk assess and have a respect for nature whilst observing the changes in the seasons, a variety of wildlife visits the site. It is gives the opportunity to learn in a calm environment.
The site is used by students aged four to sixteen. Normally two or three different classes attend at once allowing students with different abilities and ages to work together.
We aim to give children an understanding of the ethos of a Forest School experience. This approach enables children to be independent, self-motivated, courageous, considerate and will set them up for life long learning. Forest School particularly supports the development of self- esteem and self-confidence. There are many important issues to be considered here and we aim to remain true to the Forest School ethos and approach.
Forest School has environmental awareness at the heart of its ethos. Wherever possible environmentally friendly products and recyclable materials should be used when appropriate. Good practice should be modelled by adults showing children that the world in which we live in should be cared for. Involving children in site checks and planning environmental games will help to support this.
Health and Safety Considerations
The Forest School programme will support young children to develop responsibility for themselves and others. It will encourage early risk management strategies that will ensure that young children start to consider the impact of their actions on themselves and on others.