Forest School is an inspirational process that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands- on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.
At Cheadle Catholic Infant School, our Forest School provision provides nurturing, positive outdoor learning experiences to support our children’s wellbeing and personal development. Children learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and how to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others. Children participating in Forest School have the opportunity to explore, play, learn boundaries of behaviour and develop life-long skills such a confidence, resilience, independence and motivation, whilst making links to the curriculum.
Where is Forest School?
Our Forest School is located at the back on the school field and can be accessed via the KS1 playground or rear entrance of the school.
Our Forest School is a wonderful, open space with a variety of flora and fauna for the children to explore.
How to Get There
When children are dressed and ready their teacher or support teacher leads the children across the school field to the Forest School. It is approximately a minute walk. Children are expected to walk and wait near the entrance before further instruction.
A session at Forest School...
On arrival at Forest School the children are expected to assemble at the log circle for a “Check In”. This involves the children saying now they are feeling and why. This allows children to become more in touch with their emotions and feelings and how they can change as we do different things.
Children are briefed on the activities for the session and each session usually starts with an immersion game!
Each session ends with a “Check Out” to revaluate our feelings and emotions and share anything we have learned or enjoyed at Forest School.
Forest School Rules
In the first Forest School session, children become involved with the setting and understanding that Forest School rules are to ensure their safety. At the beginning of every school session a quick recap of the rules is reinforced by the children.
Our Green Rules
Walk within the Forest School Area
Keep everything out of your mouth
Stay within the boundary
Use the respect position when using tools or working near a fire
Do not throw anything
Drag sticks behind you
Care for nature
Ask an adult before you use a tool and follow the tool rules Have FUN!
Always wash hands following a session.
The Forest School boundaries are clearly marked with wooden and metal fences. Children are reminded of the importance of these boundaries at the start of each sessions.
Regular maintenance and checks of the boundaries are made by the Forest School Leader but if you notice any damage please make the Forest School Leader aware immediately.
Staff and Helpers at Forest School
Mrs Marshall Level 3 Forest School Leader
The Class Teacher of the class that is participating in Forest School is expected to attend all forest school session with the Forest School Leader. This includes all SEND support Staff and Medical Support Staff.
The Class Teacher and support staff should be dressed appropriately, with appropriate footwear, for outdoor learning. The Class Teachers are expected to participate in activities and may be given an activity to lead depending on the session. Class Teachers are expected to enforce all Forest School rules.
At Cheadle Catholic Infant School we hope to welcome volunteers to our sessions but our current minimum child to adult ratio is 1:15. This is considered in the site and activity risk assessment.
All staff and adults involved in Forest Schools, are required to sign and date a form to show that they have read this handbook, appropriate risk assessments and understand to comply with the safety guidelines.
Health and Safety
At Cheadle Catholic Infant School, the health and safety of the children, staff and visitors is our primary concern. The following policies within this handbook are in addition to the main school policies and do not replace them. They are the minimum requirements for the safe running of Forest Schools. Forest Schools is held on the school premises, within the nature area, and is attended by children from the school.
The forest school leader is responsible for the safe running of Forest Schools therefore, has a duty of care for the children. However all adults are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure children are safe. Before a session commences all staff involved in the sessions have access to activity plans and risk assessments associated with the activities.
Site Risk Assessment
Before a site is used a risk assessment will be carried out by a Forest School Leader. The site risk assessment will be approved by Mrs Glynn (Headteacher) and updated as and when there are any permanent or seasonal changes to the site which are not recorded on daily site assessment below.
Daily site risk assessment
A daily site risk assessment (safety sweep) will be carried out before the site is used to ensure that there are no changes to the site which could cause harm. This should be taken with extra caution following high winds and other bad weather. It should be carried out by the forest school leader who will make the decision whether PPE should be worn when carrying out checks. Following the daily site risk assessment the FS leader will carry out anything that is needed to make the site safe (e.g. remove any hazards, mark off any unsafe areas). At the same time will consider specific circumstances which make it appropriate to cancel a Forest School Session.
Activity risk assessment
When planning activities for Forest Schools, any hazards associated with that activity, that are at risk of causing harm, should be considered. These should be recorded on an activity risk assessment with suitable control measures taken to control and minimise the risk. Due to the nature of Forest Schools the children may come up with a new activity during a session and therefore reasonable steps will be taken to ensure the activity is safe. An activity risk assessment form will be completed ASAP following that session.