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Connecting with the great outdoors

Posted onPosted on 25th Nov

Youngsters at St Mary’s Church of England Primary School, Edwinstowe, are making the most of its outdoor grounds as a forest school area is redeveloped.

Lee Cook, who works for Nottinghamshire County Council’s Sherwood Area Partnership and visits St Mary’s to support the project, said they had made the forest school more effective.

There is a dig zone where children use spades and trowels, a mud kitchen, den building, seating areas for lessons, tool stations, hammocks, and more.

Lee said: “Children quickly start to notice and value nature and develop an appreciation for the outdoors. Forest school ethos sees children leading the learning and they become confident problem solvers and accustomed to using their own initiative. The children become accustomed to using the tools.”

Tanya Bee, Early Years foundation stage teacher and art lead, said learning outdoors made lessons memorable for children.

“It has been an exciting term at St Mary’s, developing our forest school with the children of foundation stage and years 1 and 2,” she said.

“They have fully embraced the project and have joined in weekly sessions with great engagement and enthusiasm.

“It has been wonderful to see the children develop a connection and greater respect for the outdoor environment as they explore and observe the weather and changes in the woodland around them.”

The school is situated next to Edwinstowe’s Sherwood Forest Nature Reserve and has its own mature woodland trees, providing the perfect environment for a forest school.

The school now plans to roll out forest school sessions to all year groups.

Tanya added: “Forest school creates a safe, nurturing environment for learners to try out more challenging ideas, and children move out of their comfort zone. It helps children build confidence and relationships in a way that’s not possible in the classroom, thereby developing healthy, resilient, creative and independent learners.”

Teaching assistant Dawn Coleman said the forest school added value to children’s educational experience.

“Children express themselves differently outdoors and sometimes even excel in the outside environment,” she added.

“They really love being out of doors and it brings a different set of skills and experiences to their learning.”