At Wandsworth Prep, we are committed to providing engaging opportunities that enable our children to become healthy, well-rounded individuals with a strong sense of independence and compassion. Over the years, we have found that one of the best ways to teach these qualities is through weekly Forest School sessions.
Our Forest School caters for all children from Reception to Year 6 and enables the pupils to gain hands-on experience in the natural environment. The sessions delivered are designed to increase confidence through problem-solving as children learn how to manage risks. The children take part in natural exploration, building dens, games, imaginative play, natural crafts, scavenger hunts, and adventure games. Each session ends with plenty of free time to explore further and enjoy a hot chocolate.
As Forest School is such a resounding success at our school, we thought we’d interview Katie Brown, Wandsworth
Prep’s Enrichment Coordinator and Forest School Lead to learn more about why this might be:
How long have you worked on Forest School? Were you here when the school first implemented it? If so, what was this like?
When I joined the team I took over as the Forest School Lead and implemented our own Forest School Curriculum based on the outcomes that we wanted the children to achieve. We combine a mixture of traditional Forest School skills such as using tools for purpose with activities such as pond dipping that allow us to apply our classroom understanding to real-life experiences.
How much time do your early years children spend in the Forest School, and what do they do at Forest School?
The children in Early Years spend a full morning each week in our Forest School environment. Each week will have a focus depending on the season and the natural resources available to us. They usually focus on an imaginative hook which provides a problem for our children to solve or a specific skill focus. During different seasons we use the environment to enrich our learning. Spring for example is the perfect time to explore wildlife and identify different plants and trees.
Why teach outdoors?
Taking learning outside can improve attainment, increase engagement, and develop a wide range of skills including problem-solving, communication and resilience. Linking our Forest School with the wider curriculum also provides endless opportunities for experiential, contextual and applied education.
Which parts of your training are the most important to you and why
The most important aspect of my Forest School training would have been learning how to teach specific skills to children across a large age range. Learning the correct tool and fire protocols and how to work with children safely. Through my training, I learnt a lot about how to apply these skills to many areas of the curriculum and how much children benefit from these life skills.
How can we bring the principles of outdoor education, indoors?
It is more about what learning outdoors can do to equip children with skills that then transverse into their indoor lives. It is particularly important to give children the opportunity to connect with and build a love for the outdoors. Not only so they can regulate themselves as they mature but so they treat the natural environment with the respect that it deserves and needs. Aside from this, risk management, problem-solving and resilience skills can be applied across every walk of life.
Do you have other plans for the Forest School program or exciting things happening in the future?
We are currently adapting our Forest School program for the older children in our school to ensure that the learning experience they have is challenging and provides a new experience for them each year. This could involve them taking part in a whole new range of life lessons such as the opportunity to train as lifeguards.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the Forest School at Wandsworth Prep or would like to book a private tour with our Head, Laura Nike, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org