Successful First Term for Students at Forest School

Students from year 13 have enjoyed attending Forest School this term. Sessions take place at the South London Scout Centre in Dulwich.

One of the principles of forest school is for students to be given opportunities to take appropriate and supported risks – and the year 13s have really impressed Mr Hilton and Feze by how much they have grown in confidence over the course of the term, and taken on the various challenges they have been presented with.

Forest School has 6 main principles:

1. Forest School should be student-led
2. It is a holistic approach to learning – developing mind, body and spirit
3. It should be long term, allowing students to develop their understanding of – and relationship with – nature over the course of the changing seasons
4. It should be run by skilled and qualified leaders
5. Students should be supported to take appropriate risks (to develop self confidence and self esteem)
6. Students should be given a variety of opportunities to develop their relationship with the natural world

Forest School sessions tend to follow a similar routine each week.

First we recap the school FRESH rules, and then we discuss additional Forest School rules – such as staying within the boundary, and not eating anything that we find in the forest.

Then we split into 2 groups: 1 group puts up a shelter to protect us from the rain (we’ve been lucky so far!), and the 2nd group starts a fire. There are extra fire safety rules that we must remember – including never leaving it unattended!

The students used their recycled marshmallow sticks from a previous session. We then built up different layers in the fire pit so that the flames could spread to some large logs.

The students have become increasingly confident at building the fire, and they are becoming very skilled at using their flint and steel tools to create the sparks that are needed to ignite it.

The students have also become highly skilled at tying the knots (especially the timber hitch) that are required to put up the shelter.

The team working on building a shelter have learnt new skills such as tying knots and various bows. They have been able to recognise any mistakes they might make, and then correct these errors when constructing the shelter.

Students are encouraged to take responsibility for setting up the camp when we arrive and then packing up at the end of the sessions – and they are becoming more and more organised as a result!

They are also encouraged to help to plan the sessions, and already have some favourite games and activities that they like to engage in – particularly cooking!

This week we made some popcorn on the campfire – as well as our usual toasted marshmallows!

We started by coating the corn with some olive oil. These were then placed in a sieve with some tinfoil on top. We heated these up over the embers of our fire. Hot chocolate was also prepared as a treat. Our mid-morning snack was finished off with some marshmallows being toasted.

Forest School usually ends with some circle time. This is a period where we can have some friendly and meaningful conversations, as well as to take some time to appreciate our outdoor surroundings.

This first term of Forest School has been a tremendous success. We look forward to introducing other students to other Forest School activities in the New Year.

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