Forest School is an internationally recognised teaching methodology which facilitates rich learning experiences in the outdoor environment and is an important element in our learning outside the classroom here at Holly Trees. It was originally pioneered in Scandinavia and is a child centred approach which encourages risk taking within a defined structure, helping children to keep themselves safe by assessing danger in a realistic setting.
Children learn a range of practical skills such as fire lighting, shelter building and working with tools to create useful and aesthetically pleasing objects from natural materials. The confidence and social skills gained in overcoming challenges, often as a group, has a positive impact on academic achievement with the children more able to articulate their ideas and work co-operatively with peers back in the classroom.
Learning about nature and specifically about our local habitats is another integral element to Forest School. Most sessions take place outside the school grounds, either in Holly Wood or Warley Country Park, both within easy walking distance. As agreed with Brentwood Borough Council, we ensure these spaces kept litter free and we leave no trace of our activities, thereby instilling a care for nature which starts on our doorstep.
Pupil voice speaks extremely highly of our provision as can be seen in our displays in the corridors. Indeed the only complaint has been that there should be more Forest School! The benefits to physical, emotional and mental health in children are huge, providing an alternative to a steady diet of electronic input. This was recognised by OFSTED in our 2017 report which noted that, “The introduction of more interesting learning activities, often outside the classroom, has caught the imagination of pupils.” Forest School encourages children and parents to embrace childhood and all the wealth of experiences to be found in the great outdoors.