Forest School

Curriculum Intent

The concept of Forest Schools was first introduced to education in the 1980s. Since then, schools have found that it provides a holistic approach to learning and is a fantastic way to introduce children to nature, problem solving, life skills as well as providing opportunities to support children’s mental health. At Istead Rise we have a wonderful on site woodland setting where children take part in Forest School sessions and where our Forest School leader aims to support children in to develop and gain skills, confidence and to build self-esteem. We believe that by providing children with such a stimulating environment they will also have opportunities to further explore the school’s core values: Respect, Independence, Perseverance and Self- Reflection. 

At our school we provide children with small, manageable tasks which enable them to develop skills needed to manage risks, use their own initiative to solve problems and cooperate with others. It is our intention that these areas are developed further when children use tools to make things. 

We wish for all children to become more resilient to the outdoors, so our weather philosophy is ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.’ We are also conscious of our responsibility to the wildlife in the woodland area and the impact we have on the land itself. As a result areas of the Forest School site are rested for appropriate periods of time. By teaching Forest School responsibly in this way, we feel we are encouraging the children to think about our impact on the environment around us and developing their awareness of the world around them to include plants and animals alike. It is our goal to provide children with a deeper appreciation and understanding of nature and to help them become responsible citizens in the future. 

Curriculum Implementation

Forest School is delivered and managed by our trained level 3 practitioner with every year group across the school. Sessions are undertaken in termly units of learning.  Our pupils really do look forward to the adventures they have each week.

Practitioners for Forest School at Istead Rise have a great passion for their role and ensure that every child can take part and access the learning opportunities. Pupils are taught practical skills and these are developed as they move through the school. Some of these skills include: knot tying, lighting fires safely, sawing with the bow saw, using palm drills, peelers, pen knives and using the basher with the bill hook. All practical skills are fully supervised by adults in the forest. 

Direct verbal feedback is given to pupils when they are learning various practical skills and adults ask questions to help them think logically when climbing trees or having other experiences in the forest.

Every session is carefully planned to inspire or encourage pupils' interests and will also make links to classroom learning when appropriate. Although practitioners will plan specific activities, each activity leads to children making their own discoveries and choices about their learning experiences. 

We assess children’s understanding, skills and knowledge by observing them carefully during their experiences problem solving and interacting with others. This enables practitioners to then plan future learning activities which will further advance their development. At the end of every session time is always provided so that the pupils can reflect upon and share their adventures and to celebrate their achievements.  

Additional activities available to the pupils are as follows: tree climbing, digging, use of the mud kitchen, a mudslide, swing, rope climb, rope ladder, bug hunting and making bug hotels, den building and cooking on the open fire. It is our hope that during these sessions all children will experience fun, social interaction and nature and will learn invaluable life skills to help them navigate their future endeavours.