Weston on Trent Church of England (Aided) Primary School

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Outdoor Learning and Forest Schools

Why are we so keen on Outdoor Learning?

Outdoor learning is a very powerful way of enhancing the children's physical and emotional development. We want our children to be independent learners and to have an understanding and appreciation of the natural world. We have been inspired by both Learning Through Landscapes and the Forest School movement and believe that using our extensive grounds to the maximum will have huge benefits for all of our children.

Not all of our outdoor learning experiences class as Forest School- for instance we have an orienteering course on site, but many do: please see the plans below for a taste of what is delivered to the children.

What is Forest Schools?
Forest Schools originated in Scandinavia in the 1950s as a way of learning about the natural world, by the 1980s they had become an integral part of the Danish early years program. Forest Schools are successful for children of all ages who visit the same woodlands on a regular basis. Through play, they learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others. Sessions run throughout the year in all weathers. Children explore, play, learn boundaries of behaviour and grow in confidence, self-esteem and motivation.

Forest Schools: Intent, Implementation, Impact

At Weston on Trent C of E Primary School, Outdoor Learning and Forest Schools provides a nurturing space that supports our children’s wellbeing by providing and implementing positive, outdoor, child-centred experiences in a natural setting.

Children participating in Outdoor Learning and Forest Schools have a half day session weekly. Our provision is in our own specially developed Forest School site or, on occasion, in a fenced area of woodland at Elvaston Country Park. This time provides children with the time to experience their environment and be fully immersed in their learning. Jackie Ford and Mo Nicholson are both qualified Forest School Leaders and run sessions across a variety of age ranges, skills are developed as the children progress through the school. Children develop practical skills such as knot tying, fire lighting and the safe, responsible use of tools.

Children are active, take ownership of their learning and develop their self-esteem through a variety of independent tasks which they take ownership of. Children develop knowledge of sustainability and respect for their learning environment and the outdoors as a whole. Children develop their teamwork skills and increase their capability to work together to solve problems in a variety of ways, taking into account one another’s ideas. Positive relationships are built through these sessions and children are both enabled and empowered to achieve their holistic potential.

Our Forest School Site
We are exceptionally lucky at Weston on Trent C of E Primary School to have such a beautiful, natural site. Within our school site there is a variety of flora and fauna. The children love to observe the natural changes to the environment.

How will my child benefit from outdoor learning and Forest School?
Through the Forest School ethos we aim to provide children with opportunities to take measured risks, learn more about themselves and their relationships with others. Under the guidance of our fully qualified Forest School Leaders we aim for all children to experience nature in a hands on, safe secure and supported environment. Activities are carefully planned to provide small achievable tasks so that no child will fail thus helping to raise self-esteem and confidence in every child. Children learn how to work with and react to the natural environment.

Will my child be safe?
The short answer is yes, each Forest School session is fully risk assessed. There will always be at least 1 fully qualified Forest School leader at each session and one other adult. Forest School sessions take place on school grounds or the fenced forest which are completely secure. Children will learn to manage their own risks and work within their personal physical and mental limitations.

Who will organise and run the Forest School sessions?
Sessions will be run by fully qualified Forest School leaders: Jackie Ford and Mo Nicholson working alongside your child's class teacher. All curriculum areas can be taught within the outdoor learning and Forest School sessions with some being taught through a range of adventurous activities: cooking on an open fire, shelter building, using hand tools and much, much more.

Why do children take part in outdoor learning and Forest Schools?
At Weston on Trent C of E Primary School we aim to use this powerful approach to learning to teach our children to be independent, self-motivated, courageous, considerate and set them up for lifelong learning.

Forest School training

  • Weston on Trent Church of England (Aided) Primary School,
  • Forrester Avenue, Weston-on-Trent,
  • Derby, England,
  • DE72 2HX
  • Tel: 01332700488
  • Email: