Outdoor Learning and Pastoral Support
In 2022 , Mrs Woodhead started running outdoor learning sessions with the support of Mrs Collier in our lovely school grounds. Mrs Woodhead is currently working on achieving Forest School Accreditation for St Patrick's.
Each term, we run a series of Forest Based School sessions for identified children where they get to experience a range of activities. These make a positive contribution to the following:
- Confidence: children had the freedom, time and space to learn and demonstrate independence
- Social skills: children gained increased awareness of the consequences of their actions on peers through team activities such as sharing tools and participating in play
- Communication: language development was prompted by the children’s sensory experiences
- Motivation: the woodland tended to fascinate the children and they developed a keenness to participate and the ability to concentrate over longer periods of time
- Physical skills: these improvements were characterised by the development of physical stamina and gross and fine motor skills
- Knowledge and understanding: the children developed an interest in the natural surroundings and respect for the environment
- It is an ethos and philosophy. It promotes self-esteem, creativity, confidence and child-centred learning approach.
- It is learner-centred, focusing on the curiosity of the child rather than tasks to be finished; it’s holistic learning that helps the child to grow socially, emotionally and physically.
- It enables children to get outside of the classroom, direct their own learning and exploration and build relationships over time.
- It is a long-term approach to learning and not a one-off session, with a recommended minimum of 24 weeks but ideally a lot more. The longevity of Forest School ensures that the establishment of boundaries feels safe and secure for the children. It takes time to get to know people and create a trusting community, expecting children to get the benefits of this over a few sessions will just add more pressure.
- It’s not a requirement to have access to a forest. Whilst woodlands provide an ideal environment for Forest School because of their diversity and opportunities for exploration, it can be practiced on a beach or any other outdoor environment. You don’t have to ‘go’ to the forest – the scrubland beside the school is fine.
- It provides opportunities for supported risk-taking and often includes the use of knives, fire, and outdoor shelters.