Outdoor Learning & Forest School

INTENT

At Hunsbury Park Primary School, we believe that a variety of learning opportunities should be offered to all our students. We are fortunate to have large grounds with fields and small copses to explore. A large part of the school grounds is surrounded by Hunsbury Country Park. We recognise that children have different learning styles and that working outdoors stimulates and encourages an enquiring mind. We are affiliated with the Forest School Association and employ a Forest School teacher and a Forest School Teaching Assistant. The school employs an Educational Visits Co-ordinator. Hunsbury Park Primary School is part of the ‘Longtown evisit scheme’ which offers guidance and training to schools. It evaluates and assesses Residential and Adventurous Activities.

Our goal for FOREST SCHOOL is that each class has a half term block of Forest School sessions. These can be taken consecutively or spread amongst the seasons. Each session can build on the knowledge and experience of each session without losing the focus or confidence in skills gained. It allows children to persevere over a longer time period and support successes and short/long term goals.

Our goal for OUTDOOR LEARNING is to take our curriculum and use the spaces we have to enhance lessons and experiences across the wider curriculum. Our year 4 pupils participate in a residential visit to Everdon Outdoor Learning Centre, where studies are linked to the Science curriculum of habitats, food chains, life cycles and prey/predators. Our year 6 pupils take part in a residential visit to The Frontier Centre to experience a range of adventurous physical education activities. We also offer a Year 6 sleepover at school, to celebrate the efforts the students made in preparing and working for their SAT’s. Year 5 are also offered a school sleepover to give them a celebratory experience at the end of the school year. As a whole school we take part in OUTDOOR LEARNING DAY where teachers are encouraged to take all lessons outside. This presents teachers with an opportunity to develop creative curriculum links and enhance their planning in the outdoors. Other day visits are linked to the curriculum and take place throughout the year.

The benefits of OUTDOOR LEARNING are:

  • enhanced personal and social communication skills.
  • increased physical health.
  • enhanced mental and spiritual health.
  • enhanced spiritual, sensory, and aesthetic awareness.
  • the ability to assert personal control and increased sensitivity to one's own well-being.

We feel it is important for teachers to act as role models and have a   good subject knowledge. Regular training and validation take place. Subject knowledge is updated through private study and courses. In order for children to reach their true potential we aim to engage parents and encourage them to support their children to follow our school rules and our values through our golden threads. We strive to provide the children in our school with plenty of opportunities to display their knowledge of the outdoors, understanding their impact on the world and within our local community.

IMPLEMENTATION

A range of teaching and learning styles are used to teach Forest School skills through a progression scheme. The skills taught are based on the experience, confidence and physical capability of all taking part. Adaptations are made to support all learners. In addition, time is given to enable children to create their own learning experiences. The focus in early years is to recognise how to dress for the weather, how to keep themselves safe and learn through creative play. Skills such as cutting, knotting and weaving are taught. As children grown and develop they are introduced to a range of tools such as tree loppers, secateurs, hacksaws and bow saws. Children then learn how to prepare, build, light, use and put out a fire.

Although teaching is guided there is an emphasis on pupil-led active learning techniques such as discussion and group work.

Clear safety rules and safe boundaries are put in place to ensure a safe, supportive and positive learning environment. Examples include:

  • Safe working area
  • Whistle signals which are clear to hear
  • How to react when dogs are close
  • How to react to members of the public
  • How to build a dynamic risk assessment
  • Not to touch plants/fungi unless directed to do so
  • Look with our eyes
  • Make not break

Pupils learn research and study techniques and can engage in investigations and problem-solving activities. The children use keys, ID sheets and books to identify flora and fauna.

All pupils are encouraged to take an active part in their learning at home with challenges and signposted activity days. Children can share their experiences via CLASSDOJO.

The school works with THE FRIENDS OF WEST HUNSBURY PARKS, IDEVERDE and NACRE (Northamptonshire Action with Communities in Rural England) in our community. The children have planted hedgerows, an orchard, made and sited bird feeders and taken part in biodiversity studies. We continue to for learning opportunities within our community.

IMPACT

By the time children leave Hunsbury Park Primary School they are aware of their local community and what they can do to look after it. They have built resilience when facing new challenges. The children will be able to identify a range of plants and animals. The children will have developed the skills to help them identify hazards and how to make risk benefit assessments. Though their activities the children will have a greater connection to nature. It is hoped that they will see that being outside is good for their metal wellbeing and that ‘outdoors’ is a fun place to be.

Attainment will be assessed using:

  • Pupil voice
  • Teacher assessment during activities
  • Lesson observations by Senior Leadership Team

SEND AND DISADVANTAGED PUPILS

Our ambition is for all pupils to access the full OUTDOOR curriculum. These pupils will be supported to provide them with full accessibility to the Forest School lessons. This may be through pre-teaching, social stories, adult support, visual timetables, simplified instructions and appropriate tools. Each child ill be supported according to their own needs to ensure equity in opportunities to participation and learning.

HOW DO OUTDOOR LEARNING AND FOREST SCHOOL PROMOTE BRITISH VALUES?

BRITISH VALUESPSHE links well with British Values as many of the topics are intertwined. Pupils at Hunsbury Park Primary have experience of democracy when selecting group leaders. Through experience they learn which qualities a good leader needs and the qualities required by group members. They can exercise individual liberty when deciding upon changes they would like to see made during an activity.  The adapting of planning is a key Forest School theme, where children decide the route their enquiries should take. The rule of law is adopted when children make or follow risk assessments. This is linked to individual liberty where children can see the relationship between rights and responsibilities. The countryside code is followed and children are encouraged to develop a school code when outdoors. Tolerance and mutual respect are learnt about through activities when challenges are met.  Discussions on their beliefs, for example: veganism/vegetarianism/pollution/ climate, allow for differing points of view to be raised and shared. This is all underpinned by our School Values which are our Golden Threads and run through everything we do.

Outdoor Learning Documents