For all of you wondering 'What actually is forest school?' Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.
At Heartwood Forest School all Participants are Viewed as:
The Forest School Ethos has Six Principles
These principles are:
Heartwood Forest School at Heartwood CE VC Primary and Nursery School
At Heartwood CE VC Primary and Nursery School all the children take part in a weekly or fortnightly Forest School session, where their learning takes place outside in our wonderful, environmentally rich, onsite woodland setting. This enables the children experience and connect with nature.
The children will achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences, trying more risky activities such as tree climbing, building fires, using real tools and den building.
Our School Value
This term our school value is Courage and we will be working on this value during our time in Heartwood Forest School.
'We feel confident enough to challenge ourselves, take risks and make mistakes. We stand up for what is right’
Courage involves making good choices in the face of fear or obstacles. It’s another term for bravery. Remember: Bravery doesn’t mean fearlessness. It means we do not let fear hold us back from exploring new opportunities, developing our skills, and doing what is right.
In Heartwood Forest we pay attention to signs that children are afraid or nervous in a situation. We offer both emotional support and information verbally, that can help them work through their fears, being courageous and developing new skills, such as tree climbing, swinging on the monkey bars, completing the rope walk or using tools.
It takes courage to try new things or to keep trying to master a skill or to do the right thing in difficult situations, but in Heartwood Forest we enable children to feel good about themselves and to see they have the personal power to make courageous choices.
Forest School Clothing
As Forest School is an outdoor experience and we will go to the woodland area in all weather conditions, except extreme wind, rain, thunder and lightening, it is very important that children come dressed in suitable clothing on their Forest School days. Please see below for suggested appropriate clothing:
Please make sure your child has named spare school clothing, including underwear in school on forest days so they always have dry/clean clothes to change into. Please supply a named plastic bag on forest days for wet/muddy waterproofs or clothes.
The key to keeping warm in the Autumn/winter seasons is lots of thin layers :)
Please make sure your child comes dressed in forest school uniform. Lots of layers are needed this time of year, so please make sure they have vests/thermals, long sleeved t-shirts etc under their school polo shirts. It is also important to provide a warm winter coat and waterproofs/snow suits or thermal waterproofs. Hats, scarves, gloves and extra socks are also a great idea. Please remember a full set of spare clothes.
Please note, non-school uniform on Forest School days is no longer allowed.
What Day Does my Child Have Forest School and Allotment?
Mouse Class: Tuesday
Rabbits Class: Wednesday
Hedgehogs Class: Thursday
Squirrel Class: Friday
Fox Class: Thursday
Deer Class: Friday
Raccoon Class: Thursday
Moles Class: Wednesday (Allotment) and Friday (Forest School)
Each of the classes from year one, two and three will be split into two groups, accessing the forest in smaller groups, on alternative weeks. The week they do not come to the forest, they will be in the allotment area, tending to their designated allotment beds. For this reason, please dress your child in their forest school uniform on their designated day
Each class has a covered wellie rack outside their classrooms, so please ensure your child's wellies are brought into school. It maybe handy to bring a plastic bag if you wish to take your child's wellies home as they will most probably be muddy.
Critical Worker/Vulnerable Children Pods during National Lockdown
Monday: Year Two
Tuesday: Mouse Class/Moles Class
Wednesday: Rabbits Class
Thursday: Year One
Friday: Year Three
The Curriculum and Forest School
A Forest School curriculum has be carefully devised for Key Stage One and Two pupils (Year One, Two and Three) and another for pupils within the Early Years Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception). The curriculum for key stage one and two pupils is based around the National Curriculum, focusing on science and geography. The curriculum for the early years is based around the Early Years Foundation Stage and the Wanderlust Nature Study Programme. At the heart of both curriculums is Heartwoods own 'making a difference: a memorable curriculum'; At Heartwood we care about the Swaffham community, our country, the world around us and the people and animals that live within it.
Awards and Nature Programmes
The week commencing 25th January, we took part in The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Big School Bird Watch. We thought of ways to attract more birds into our woodland area, making bird feeders, a permanent bird feeding station with fresh food and drinking water and a bird bath where the birds can wash themselves. Through our Species of the Week, we learnt about two different species of bird; Starling and Robin. We observed and recorded all the birds we saw whilst in Heartwood, all the data has been submitted to the RSPB and we obtained a certificate.
Good news we have received our Level One, Schools Gardening Award from the RHS Campaign for School Gardening. The children gained this award through all their hard work in getting their allotment areas ready for use. We are now working towards our Level Two and the children will decide what they would like to grow, use basic gardening terms, use hand tools safely and have the skills to prepare the soil, sow, plant and water their seeds/bulbs.
We also have some very exciting news...We have been donated Two Hedgerows pack and One Orchard pack from the Tree Council; Orchard for schools. The week commencing 1st February was a very busy week for us in Heartwood Forest as five fruit trees and the hedgerows pack arrived. Children have gained hands on experiences of planing, preparing the ground/soil, measuring, problem solving, handling the saplings, caring for the young trees/hedgerows and we will continue to observe and record the growth within our sessions. We will appoint some Young Tree Champions across the school who will keep a special eye on the saplings. This is such a fantastic experience for the children of Heartwood and I am so excited that they are able to receive this invaluable life lesson.
'Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives' - Thomas Berry
'Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better' - Einstein