Connecting children with their local green space
A Summary of the ‘Forest Schools in Leicester’ project by Groundwork Leicester
The Education Team at Groundwork Leicester and Leicestershire were thrilled to receive a grant from APE towards the training and set-up costs of a Forest School Programme in Leicester. The addition of this money to other funds we were able to access has allowed us to train three members of staff to OCN Level 3 standard in Forest School Leadership. This accredited qualification is essential in order to maintain high professional standards of delivery, and will allow us to link in with other organisations and funding streams in the future.
As well as a contribution towards the training costs, the APE funding allowed us to purchase tools and equipment for use in Forest School sessions. This included a variety of outdoor clothing and footwear (to allow sessions to take place in any weather), along with child-sized tools such as bow saw and secateurs for practical work, along with more specialised equipment such as a Kelly Kettle and other ‘campfire cooking’ materials.
To date, two 6 week Forest School Programmes have been completed. The first programme was attended by eight KS1 pupils (aged 5 to 7) and the second programme was attended by nine Yr 4 pupils (aged 8 and 9). Both programmes took place in woodlands within the school grounds. Currently we are delivering a programme which is attended by four pupils from a secondary school, along with eight pupils from one of their feeder primary schools.
Each Forest School Programme consists of six sessions, run once a week on consecutive weeks. Sessions have included activities such as bug hunts, stick whittling, tree climbing, treasure hunts, natural art, story telling and shelter building. All sessions include a planned break when the Kelly Kettle is lit and a hot drink and snack is prepared. The children are encouraged to work together cooperatively, sharing ideas, skills and experiences.
Feedback from teachers, parents and pupils has been very good, with clear benefits being seen in both physical and emotional development. Long-term improvements have been made to two woodland sites so far, which will allow the schools to continue to use the sites for both formal and informal learning, as well as providing good habitats for many species of plants, animals and birds.
Now that three members of staff have been trained to the appropriate level, we are hoping to further develop the ‘Forest Schools in Leicester’ project and incorporate it into the range of activities we offer to schools and other organisations.