National Curriculum Outcomes
Children lead very sheltered lives today and often have limited life experiences. Lifestyles have separated people generally from the natural world, and even in rural areas, children may not go out into local woodland or countryside, as they did in the past.
Although the Cotswold Forest School may not directly require pupils to read, or to calculate equivalent fractions, the child’s experiences and activity in the forest provides a context for comparison, and material to work with. They have something to write about in their diary. When building the base camp with youngsters from a local school (KS 3&4). For instance, they could see the importance of accurate measurement when they cut equivalent lengths of timber for their base.
It is well known that we learn better when we are enjoying ourselves. When asking what makes Forest School different to school for learning, a constant response from adults, parents and children is “ because it’s more fun”, or alternatively “ it’s enjoyable, it’s not like school”. ‘What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing’ – Aristotle.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence suggesting the motivation to learn at Forest School is greater. This is because the learning provided is meaningful and in the ‘concrete’, providing tangible results. Activities are offered as achievable and often open ended tasks.
A particular strength of many of the tasks and activities the children take part in is the need for problem-solving, and creative solutions. In addition, children are introduced to skills that will last a lifetime – naturally inspired!
Potential outcomes/benefits of the Cotswold Forest School and its impact characterized by the following:
Confidence Self-confidence and self-belief that comes from children having freedom, time and space to learn, grow and demonstrate their independence.
Social Skills: Increased awareness of the consequences of actions on other people, the acquired ability to undertake activities with others either by sharing tools and tasks, or by taking part in co-operative play.
Language and Communication: Development of more sophisticated uses of both written and spoken language (vocabulary & syntax), prompted by visual and other sensory experiences of participating in Forest School. Conversation stimulated and inspired by experience between children who are otherwise reluctant to engage in dialogue with peers or adults.
Knowledge and Understanding: Respect for the environment and an interest in their natural surroundings, making observations and insights into natural phenomena – seasons, light, weather and wildlife. This can be reflected in academic achievement New Perspectives Teachers/leaders gain new insight into pupils innate skills and learning styles, informing later activity and assessment; develop different relationships as children see teachers in a different setting; learning about and coping with challenges the same as them. Learn to trust each other more.
Motivation and Concentration: Keenness to participate in exploratory learning and play activities; ability to focus on specific tasks and concentrate for extended periods of time. At home /school display positive attitude to Forest School and learning generallyPhysical Skills Development of physical stamina and gross motor skills – skill and coordination allowing free and easy movement around Forest School – as well as fine motor skills – effective use of tools and ability to make structures and objects (play and creative art projects)