Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Forest School Wales

More Forest School Pictures

Here the Forest School program is delivered onsite.  The Head Teacher who was away today is seen as a driving force.  She actively promotes the use of the outdoors.  Through the use of Ed Assistants running and coordinating the Forest School Program all children receive exposure.  The program runs regardless of the weather - rain, hail snow or shine.  Staff involvement and utilisation of the outdoor facilities varies.  If the weather is fine there is a high frequency of usage.  One of the down sides to the use of staff running the program is that some staff perceive the outdoor program to be outside their area of teaching and infrequently use the facilities when the weather is inclement. However, the majority incorporate it into their teaching and learning program.  The transformation of reluctant learners in the classroom to confident children in the outdoors should be the driving force. The next PD for the staff will involve staff undertaking the role of the students in the Forest School for a day to truly see what their charges are doing when working with Charlotte.
The driving force behind Lisa’s position as a Forest School promoter and developer has come about due to the Government’s Foundation Program.  This new mandated policy by the Welsh Education Authority recognises the importance of hands on learning, and how nature can be utilised as the conduit to motivate students.

Small groups of students,(approximately 1/3 of the class), undertake either a morning or afternoon in the Forest School while the remaining 2/3 stay with the class teacher.  When undertaking the Outdoor classroom, they have all the students present.

I was really interested in how the program operated, and why it was so successful.  I had seen many similar facilities however their utilisation of these through the Forest School Program was different to the more formalised approach undertaken in Outdoor Classrooms.  In a similar vein to the Nature Kindergarten, activities were directed but if children chose to go in another direction to the planned lesson, this was fine, even encouraged.  What was great in this instance was I was able to observe the class practice.  Charlotte T, the Teacher Assistance who ran the program, together with Charlotte the Special Needs assistant were generous enough to let me sit in on their morning session and observe their interaction with nine 5 year old students.

Initially they went through a meet and greet routine where they virtually revised previous practice; this was followed with some discovery sessions on “Fairy” posts that had been left behind.  A sharing session where children went and collected interesting objects was followed by an introduction and practical session with wood working tools, utilising natural materials from the school woodland.  What was really interesting was that as Charlotte A went through the sessions the children guided and paced the session.  If something else took their fancy then that was fine.  One student spent a lot of time under a tarpaulin, another crawling through the grass, other students explored mole diggings. All this was fine and assisted in pacing the lesson to individual needs.  There seemed to be a great deal of flexibility built into the program.  The children also went through a process where they were learning the safety aspects of having a fire as they have a special area to light fires.  This was in preparation for doing some cooking in a few weeks.


elizabeth said...

Once again, some terrific photos. More inspiration for me!!
I'm so envious of you doing this research - it's fascinating.
Safe travels,

Emma Strong said...

Not sure that we'll find any mole diggings at Withers. Rabbit diggings and workmen diggings, yes. In the last few weeks I've joined classes doing art, science and a presentation outside, as well as boomerang throwing and phys ed. I think we could easily add cooking, maths, gardening, woodwork and drama.

Room 3 WPS said...

Good Afternoon,
Cameron: I got a blood nose.
Eddy: Wow, the mini beast hotel is cool!
Adam: I like the mini beast hotel and the fireplace.
Natishka: The cubby house is kind of small.
Brayden: The undercover area is small.
Matthew: Did they have any other things that you didn't take photos of?
Brittany: I got hit by a ball in the eye.
Thank you, speak soon
Room 3

Stuart Cumming said...

Hi Rm 3...that school in Wales was pretty good. Cameron and Brittany weren't fighting each other when Cam got his blood nose and Brittany got hit in the eye, were they? I am now in Ireland and will be heading up to Nthn Ireland where I am going to meet 2 school Principals. It is nearly the end of the school year here, so everyone is pretty busy. We have seen some beautiful country in Ireland while driving, so will put some photos up to show you. Mr Cumming


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