Sacred Heart
Catholic Voluntary Academy

Love · Faith · Truth

Forest School

Where do we do Forest School?

We are very lucky to have our own Forest School on site, as well as an additional offsite location which we have the kind permission of the Leonard Cheshire home across the road to use. Our own site was developed in 2014 and has been planted and developed by our own students. Our offsite Forest School is in more mature woodland which we are developing and managing alongside the landowners. We have a team of staff working together to deliver Forest School sessions, two qualified level 3 leaders and two members of staff currently working to complete their training.

Why is there a Forest School at Sacred Heart?

Many children learn best outdoors and benefit from the child-led learning available at Forest School. Children can use the skills they learn in Forest School when they are learning inside the classroom too, we make links to their classroom learning in science, numeracy and literacy, bringing a relevance to their classroom work.

Forest Schools helps children to:

  • increase their self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-respect
  • improve and maintain their physical and mental health
  • give them the opportunity to work with other children, developing the essential social skills for collaboration and team work
  • allow them to increase their confidence through developing new skills
  • promote their imagination, independence and creativity
  • connect with nature and develop an understanding of the natural world
  • offer opportunities for children of all abilities and backgrounds to play together
  • provide opportunities for developing social skills and learning
  • build resilience through risk taking and challenge, problem solving, and dealing with new situations
  • learn about their environment and the wider community.

What do the children do at Forest School?

The children lead their own exploration in Forest School and so every session and every child’s experience differs. Each session involves a risk assessment, collaborative games and story, opportunity to learn, practice and apply skills as well as self initiated play. All sessions finish with a reflection on our achievements and offer a chance to goal set for future sessions.

What is Forest School?

Forest school began in Scandinavia and has been developing in the UK for the last twenty years. It is a child centered play based way of learning which happens outdoors in all weathers with the exception of high winds. Forest School offers opportunity for holistic development allowing deep personal learning to take place. A Forest School program takes place over an extended period of time allowing slow and deep development in the child. We return to the same outdoor space over time allowing observation of seasonal change and opportunity for developed play. There is possibility for managed risk this could be physical such as fire lighting or climbing, or emotional such as trying new ways of working. Forest School is a safe and managed outdoor experience with opportunity to seek and discover as well as learn and hone skills. There is a necessary and repetitious structure to each session with enables the learner to relax and respectfully listen to elements of instruction, observing boundaries with the understanding that opportunities for freedom and self-development will come out of it. This develops a real understanding of the old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ as skills are taught and reapplied to new situations and contexts at a time relevant to the learner.

Thank you to all those parents who make sure their children have the correct clothing for Forest School. We only have a limited supply of spares so please do send them with a long sleeved shirt, long trousers and sensible footwear.