Forest School is a long-term approach to education that maximises the benefits of learning in the outdoors. Whilst its roots are planted firmly in our best understanding of the theory of how children learn, Forest School practice puts the learner at the heart of their learning experience. The Forest School practitioner plans for seasonal opportunities and skills development while at the same time remaining flexible to the needs and wishes of the children as well as the demands of the unpredictability of the natural environment. Forest School offers children and young people the opportunity, over repeated visits, to engage with the rich natural diversity of the woodland environment to help build confidence, sensitivity, resilience and curiosity.
Forest School at Our Lady and St. Joseph’s School
As a Catholic school, we celebrate the wonders of creation. Scripture invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. We know also that we are called to be stewards of the Earth. Pope Francis in his encyclical Letter ‘Laudato Si’ observes that, “the world cannot be analysed by isolating only one of its aspects, since the book of nature is one and indivisible, and includes the environment, life, the family, social relations, and so forth. It follows that the deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence.”
Forest School at Our Lady and St. Joseph’s therefore is hugely important in the development of the whole child, the need to care for our earth as well as each other, and the opportunity for every child to have life to the full.
Alongside, and intertwined with our Gospel values, runs our curriculum. We recognise the outdoor environment as being a place to develop language and communication, physical skills as well as our learning behaviours of resilience, independence, teamwork, curiosity, responsibility and creativity. Many children are motivated simply by being outdoors. It is a valuable learning environment whose benefits, although perhaps not yet formally measured and proven, are obvious to those who spend time outdoors with children.