Clophill St Marys CofE lower school

Forest School

We are proud at St Mary’s about the Forest School provision we have set up.  All children in Year 1 receive fortnightly sessions of three hours, in groups of less than 15 children, across the whole school year, in close-by Irene’s Wood.

We are mindful that Forest School is not just learning that happens in a woodland with children.  Forest School is not bushcraft.  Forest School is not just playing in the woods.  Forest School is a distinct learning approach and has set of principles with roots both in the centuries old work of the likes of Froebel, Erikson and Bruner, and in the current approach to early years learning seen in the Scandinavian countries.   At St Mary’s we carefully facilitate Forest School sessions in accordance with all six principles.

All Forest School programmes in the U.K. should share a common set of six principles which offer a good summary of what is important in Forest School:

1. Forest School is a long term process (defined by the Forest School Association as at least every fortnight across the seasons of the year).
2. Forest School takes place in a ‘natural’ environment .
3. Forest School is child-led.
4. Forest School takes a holistic approach to learning which accepts that we are all unique and we all have different areas of development (e.g. physical, social, linguistic, spiritual, cognitive, emotional).
5. Forest School offers participants opportunities to take supported risks.
6. Forest School is run by qualified practitioners.

Forest School offers participants regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a natural environment.  For further information please refer to the Forest School Association’s website: The FSA are the professional body for Forest School in the UK.

In keeping with the St Mary’s school vision of ‘all growing together, rooted in Christian values’, we want Forest School to be a valuable addition to the experience children already receive at school.  We aim for our Forest School sessions to give the children time and space to develop their self-esteem, resilience and confidence through high quality play in nature.  We want our Forest School to help children become caring (toward ourselves, each other and the world around us), resilient and respectful members of the community through offering them regular opportunities to experience the healthy trinity: play, physical activity and nature.  

Our Forest School provision is led by Nell Seal, an ecologist and trained teacher having worked in outdoor learning for over 20 years.  Nell is a Level 3 Forest School Practitioner and works for the Forest School Association, managing their quality assurance schemes.  Nell is part of team at St Mary’s who facilitate the Forest School sessions.  We are grateful to Miss Wiles,  Mrs. Daniels and our fabulous parent volunteer team: Anne, Charlotte, Karen, Kayley, Lisa and Sami.  We are also really fortunate to have been supported by additional parent volunteers who helped to prepare the woodland for sessions.  

Forest School is running, for one of our younger classes, every Wednesday morning until the end of the academic year.  The class is split into two groups: Hawthorns and Blackthorns.  Here are the dates for each group's sessions until the end of term:

Hawthorns: Blackthorns:
23rd March 30th March
Easter Holiday
20th April 27th April
4th May 11th May
18th May 25th May
Half Term Holiday
8th June 15th June
22nd June 29th June
6th July 13th July
20th July  TBC

Nell, our Forest School leader, will share pictures and news of each week's session directly with parents of children attending on that date.  We will also post pictures of each group's activities and update these on a weekly basis:

Hawthorns' Photo Gallery

 *Blackthorns' Photo Gallery Coming Soon*

Important Information for Parents regarding Forest School:

Forest School Clothing Letter 03.22

Forest School Handbook: St. Mary's