Katie Goodwin, our ASC Resource Manager, gives us the lowdown on Forest School.
What is Forest School?
Forest School is an inspirational initiative that offers all learners opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences. Students are transported to a land of mud kitchens, shelter building, mud fights and fire circles, to name but a few. It allows students to initiate their own learning, become risk takers, problem solvers and collaborative learners.
Who is it for?
Our Y7 students have been the first to sample Forest School. Whilst many of these students have characteristics in common such as low attendance, Pupil Premium status and lack of attainment, many of these students face their own, very specific, difficulties such as:
- excessive OCD
- such slow processing skills in class, that speech is constantly repeated
To put it into perspective, in the 12 ½ hours we have run Forest School, we have had no lesson refusal (normally have approx. 8 lesson refusals for 2 students on top of their alternative curriculum), no disengagement, no instances of non-verbal communication (one student didn’t speak for 2 ½ weeks at the beginning of term), no repetitive speech, little or no foot wiping or OCD tendencies, no refusal to work with someone and no aggression towards staff. What we have seen is interaction with new people, improved sensory needs, an improved ability to recall events and activities quickly, appropriate self-evaluation and recognising what they would like to learn next.
What does the future hold?
Moving forward, we are continuing with the sessions next term. For these students, the continuation of life and social skills is important, but the possibilities of how Forest School could be used for other students (and parents) is infinite: cross curricular planning could allow for more specific learning, which would lead to academic progress; it could be used as a tool to re-engage disengaged children and their parents; staff INSET days; an outdoor curriculum for all students and a reward for those who have worked hard, as well as life and social skills.