I love Forest School! I wish you could go to Forest School every year.
(Pupil Questionnaire Feedback 2022-2023)
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.
In Summer 2022, we became the FIRST FSA (Forest School Association) RECOGNISED FOREST SCHOOL PROVIDER IN BEDFORDSHIRE! We have retained this certification for this academic year too:
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: www.forestschoolassociation.
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.
I love going in the hammocks at Forest School!
(Pupil Questionnaire Feedback 2021-2022)
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 Mrs. A. Daniels, Mrs. O'Connor, Mrs. Carpenter and our fabulous community volunteer team: Anna, Anne, Brian, Sarah and Viv. We were also really fortunate to have been supported by additional parent volunteers who helped to initially prepare the woodland for our sessions.
In the 2023-2024 Academic Year, 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: Maple and Holly. Here are the dates for each group's sessions:
|13th September||NEW! 21st September|
|27th September||4th October|
|11th October||18th October|
|Half Term Holiday|
|1st November||8th November|
|15th November||22nd November|
|29th November||6th December|
|NEW! 14th December||20th December|
|10th January||17th January|
|24th January||31st January|
|7th February||14th February|
|Half Term Holiday|
|28th February||6th March|
|13th March||20th March|
|24th April||1st May|
|8th May||15th May|
|Half Term Holiday|
|12th June||19th June|
|26th June||3rd July|
|10th July||17th July|
|End of Academic Year|
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:
Maple Group Photo Gallery:
Holly Group Photo Gallery: