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Heartwood CE VC Primary and Nursery School
Learn to Love – Love to Learn!

The Heartwood Forest School and Allotment

Everything you need to know about ticks...

What is Forest School?


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:

  • Equal, unique and valuable
  • Competent to explore and discover
  • Entitled to experience appropriate risk and challenge
  • Entitled to choose, and to initiate and drive their own learning and development
  • Entitled to experience regular success
  • Entitled to develop positive relationships with themselves and other people
  • Entitled  to develop a strong, positive relationship with their natural world


The Forest School Ethos has Six Principles

These principles are:

  1. Forest school is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment.
  2. Forest school takes place in an environment to support and development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
  3. Forest school aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
  4. Forest school offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
  5. Forest school is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
  6. Forest school uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning. 


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 Compassion and we will be working on this value during our time in Heartwood Forest School.


‘We understand our own and others feelings. We care for ourselves and for others. We forgive each other when we make mistakes’


Compassion means we care about others, treat them with kindness, and feel a strong desire to help people in need. Compassion is empathy in action. In Heartwood Forest compassion might look like a pupil saying something kind or helping a friend who is feeling sad or upset. Or maybe, giving encouragement and motivating a friend when they are learning a new skill, which may be tricky or out of their comfort zone, like climbing a tree or using a new tool. It can also look like a pupil reaching out to a friend who maybe feeling left out or wanting to do something to help others, even if they do not know them. Nature and the great outdoors awakens our compassion.


We will be modelling and sharing 'acts of kindness' in each forest session over the summer term. 


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 note, as we are experiencing unpredictable weather and the winter months are fast approaching please ensure you child/ren have a jumper/cardigan/hoody, coat and wellies/outdoor shoes each day in school)



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 :)


Lots of layers are needed over the winter months, 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.

Forest school 


Please see below the timetable for when your child's class will attend Forest for Summer Term 1:


Mouse (Nursery)Thursdays am and pm
Rabbits (Reception)Tuesday
Hedgehogs (Year One)Wednesday
Squirrels (Year Two)Wednesday
Otters (Year Three)Swimming
Badgers (Year Four)Monday
Fox (Year Five)Monday
Red Deer (Year Six)Monday
Bears (Nurture)Tuesday
Moles (Nurture)Wednesday



Each of the classes from year one, two, three, four, five and six will be split into two groups, accessing the forest in smaller groups, on alternative weeks. 


Mouse, Rabbits, Bears and Moles will access the forest weekly in class groups.


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. 




The Curriculum and Forest School

A Forest School curriculum has be carefully devised for Key Stage One (Year One and Two), Key Stage Two (Year Three, Four, Five and Six) pupils, and 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, geography and design and technology. 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.


We acknowledge at Heartwood that forest school is uniquely positioned to support the development of enquiring minds and positive learning attitudes.

Science and Forest School

Forest School has strong cross - curricular links with science. When planning themes for the sessions, they often link with the science curriculum and those links are clear. The environment lends itself to exploring seasonal change, using and discovering properties of materials, plants, habitats, birds and animals and much more! 

We have been busy exploring and and making a habitat for our frog spawn and tadpoles in the forest. We researched what the frog spawn and tadpoles need in order to survive; light, warmth and food. This hands on learning experience has provoked many wonderful discussions, using key vocabulary such as; habitat, life cycles, frog spawn, tadpole, froglet, frog, amphibians, herbivore, carnivore, algae, predators. 

Geography and Forest School

Forest School has strong cross- curricular links with geography also. In Heartwood forest we inspire children's curiosity and fascination about the natural world and this will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Each child is able to experience the seasons and weather patterns for themselves accessing Heartwood forest throughout the year and in all weathers, except in high winds of course!

We have been busy building upon and learning new geographical skills in Heartwood Forest. We have been drawing maps of our forest area, using compasses, learning compass points, using directional language to navigate our way around the forest and measurements.   

Design and Technology and Forest School

Forest School has strong cross- curricular links with design and technology. Within forest school we use our creativity and imagination to design and solve real and relevant problems. We use an open fire to cook, learning where our food comes from and about foraging. We use hand tools to whittle wood found in our forest, creating our own designs.  

Andy Goldsworthy is a British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist. His works inspires us to be creative, constructing sculptures, we are artists, using natural materials found in Heartwood Forest.


Andy shared this quote:


'We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we have have lost our connection to ourselves'

Species of the Week

Every week in Forest School we learn about our species of the week. The species is either a flora (plant/tree) or fauna (animal).


Seasons and the Weather

Awards and Nature Programmes 

We take part in The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Big School Bird Watch yearly. 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.

By taking part in the bird watch we have received an 'experience nature' challenge in the Wild Challenge Award with the RSPB. We are currently working towards completing three activities in 'experiencing nature' and three activities in 'helping nature' to obtain our Bronze Wild Challenge Award. The activities include; being a weather wizard, bio blitz, composting, making habitats and completing a biodiversity action plan.  

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. 

Our Class Allotment Areas

Each class has their own allotment bed which they tend to each week and the children are becoming 'green fingered' gardeners. 


As gardeners, the children will be taking care of plants throughout their life cycles. The growth of a seed into a seedling is called germination. Seeds will start germinating if they have enough water, air and warmth.


The children have learnt that plants need: light, soil, water, protection and some plants need support as they grow tall. 


Deer class have been busy sowing carrot seeds. Squirrels have planted some leeks in their allotment bed and these are now well established, after sowing them into pots and giving them the right conditions inside to germinate. They have grown roots and have top growth. Rabbits class have been busy and have sowed some broad beans, peas and lettuces in their allotment bed. They also have also sowed some tomatoes and cress in trays which are being kept indoors until they start growing (germinate). Rabbits class have also sowed some broad beans in pots, which are living on their warm windowsill in the classroom, so we can observe how the different conditions effects the growth. Raccoons allotment beds are all ready for sowing and the children are currently deciding what to sow (plant).  


Good news we have received our Level Four, Schools Gardening Award from the RHS Campaign for School Gardening. The children gained this award through all their hard work with their class allotment areas and our weekly after school gardening club. We are now working towards our Level Five and the children in gardening club, led by Miss Ingham, are demonstrating we can garden in every season.

Growing pumpkins



'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