St Chad's First School, Pattingham

The school has been running forest schools since 2009 and have a dedicated team of helpers, one of which is currently completing their forest school level 3 training.

All year groups have the opportunity to take part in forest schools throughout the school year. The sessions are planned to show progression through the school and finish with a big sleepover under the stars with year 4 in the summer term.

Aims and objectives
o To help children understand, appreciate and care for the natural environment
o To help children develop a relationship with their environment through frequent and regular experiences throughout the year, not just as a one-off
o To build on a child’s confidence, independence and self esteem
o To develop the children’s thinking, speaking and problem solving skills
o To support all areas of learning in the foundation stage and early years goals

Duration and participants
o Friday mornings and afternoons year round for reception
o Years 1-4 all have a weekly afternoon session for one term

Location
o Small wooded area on the village playing field
o The school is also developing a large part of their field where they have planted many saplings from the Woodland Trust, and established a fire pit and dens

Funding
Lottery funded (playing fields site)

Feedback on Forest Schools at St. Chad’s

An excerpt from the 2011 Headteacher report to the governor’s:

Background priority from the School Development Plan:
• To enhance the creative curriculum through the introduction of the Forest School Curriculum throughout the school

This year has seen the first complete year of Forest School lessons timetabled into the curriculum. The concept has been wholeheartedly embraced by all staff and pupils with very positive feedback given to us by visiting LA staff or staff from other schools. As the only establishment with a ‘Forest School’ in the area we have made ourselves to visitors who are interested to see the benefits to the pupils of this outdoor curriculum.

The children are eager to participate – whatever the weather and are always sad when it is their last session. Mrs Brindley is inspirational in her teaching and her careful measured approach (always mindful of health and safety) to fun and learning in this environment means that the children have a wonderful time. Through Mrs Brindley, the skills the children learn about respect for their environment and a growing love of nature are exceptional.

Excerpt from an Early Years Advisory Record Sheet in 2011
“…the children were able to explore, investigate, take risks, learn new skills, access different spaces and natural materials independently to further their learning whilst being effectively challenged and supported by adults in the session. It was apparent during the whole of the session that the children could apply their prior learning and experiences that they had developed over a sustained period of time.”

The future - What next for Forest School at St.Chad’s?
The school is seeking funding to improve its forest school provision and widen the use of its facilities to other schools and the local community. They are looking to:-
• Create an outdoor shelter and observation platform which would be used as an outdoor classroom
• To hold weekend family forest school events to enable those who work to get involved
• To promote forest schools through their local schools cluster group CLASP (Codsall Local Area Schools Partnership)
• To encourage members of the local community to come and participate in Forest School