Forest Schools

The Origins of Forest School

Forest School originated in Danish pre-schools spreading to other Scandinavian countries and parts of Europe.

Children learned through experiencing the world in a woodland setting. It was found that children developed very good communication skills, self-confidence and high self-esteem.

They developed their physical skills and awareness of a healthy lifestyle learning respect and understanding of the natural world and to take their place in it responsibly. When children started school this in turn, helped to raise their academic standards.

Clifton Primary School Ethos reflects this and seeks to share with all our children giving them the opportunity to experience the unique learning environment of our own woodland.

We believe Forest School helps children to:

  • Be independent building self-confidence, self-awareness and self-motivation.

  • Manage their feelings and behaviours to develop their social skills managing success and failure.

  • Improve their own physical awareness and concentration developing practical skills.

  • Explore connections between human life and the wider world, between themselves and the world they live in.

  • Use their imagination to develop all their creative skills and ideas.

  • Be critical thinkers having their own ideas increasing language and communication skills.

During Forest School sessions we achieve this by:

  • Allowing the children to explore on their own, managing their own risk discovering what they are comfortable with. (e.g. climbing trees, investigating the living and non-living elements of the woodland learning how far they themselves dare go)
  • Making group rules, learning the Forest Call (when to return to base camp) listening following instructions understanding the need for safety. Working as part of a team. (e.g. for fire and water safety when around camp fire and ponds and when using tools.)

  • Teaching new skills. (e.g. children learn to use simple tools such as loppers and saws, tie different knots and build shelters.)
  • Showing children they are not the only life in the woodland by learning about and respecting the flora and fauna understanding the ecology of the woodland. (e.g. learning the names of trees and other plants, bird spotting, building an insect hotel, making bird feeding stations, looking after the environment.)
  • Encourage children to use their imagination to create ‘stories’. (e.g. making friends with the dragon, building a Pixie Village, having fairy parties.
  • Creating forest art and music. (e.g. making instruments such as wind chimes as permanent features and using the natural resources of the woodland to make transient works of art such as Autumn Leaf collages.)

  • Reflecting and recording their experiences expressing their feelings and opinions using talk and other different media. (e.g. group conversations, photos, art work, Forest diaries)

‘There is a strong sense of community in this school.’…

OFSTED comments

‘Teachers provide opportunities for pupils to share experiences of their cultural beliefs and celebrations.’…

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‘Children make a good start in the early years because of good teaching’…

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‘Pupils demonstrate outstanding levels of tolerance and respect for other pupils and adults’…

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‘Parents are overwhelmingly supportive, commenting very positively on the school’s many strong features’…

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‘Comprehensive subject plans identify the essential knowledge and vocabulary that pupils need to learn over time.’…

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‘The highly successful promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is at the heart of the school’s work’…

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‘Pupils contribute significantly to the successes of the school through their outstanding behaviour and readiness to learn’…

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‘The Clifton ‘Good Citizen’ programme helps pupils to develop the communication and interaction skills they need for
later life.’…

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‘Leaders help pupils to develop resilience and self-confidence in their learning.’…

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‘Pupils with highly complex special educational needs receive outstanding levels of support.’…

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‘Teaching and learning are consistently good. As a result most pupils make good progress in reading, writing and mathematics from often significantly below-average starting points’…

OFSTED comments

‘ A well-developed
programme for relationships education helps pupils to understand the importance of tolerance and respect for others.’…

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‘There is a very strong focus on checking on how well different groups of pupils are learning, so that any falling behind can be immediately helped to make better progress’…

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‘Leaders have high expectations of behaviour for all pupils.’…

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‘Relationships between adults and pupils are extremely positive.’…

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‘Staff morale is high, team spirit is very strong, and all are committed to continued improvement. This helps to explain why the school is continuing to improve’…

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‘The harmonious relationships among all groups, from a wide variety of backgrounds, are a strength of the school’…

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‘Teachers ensure that they enrich the curriculum through an extensive range of visits and experiences’…

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‘Leaders leave no stone unturned to ensure that the very diverse school population is treated equally and that there is a relentless focus on driving up pupil performance’…

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‘Leaders ensure that pupils can develop essential life skills through activities such as learning to dress independently and simple food preparation’…

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‘In religious
education lessons, teachers provide opportunities for pupils to understand and appreciate the different life experiences of their friends.’…

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‘The excellent relationships between teachers and their pupils ensure lessons are purposeful and enjoyable’…

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‘The introduction of a comprehensively sequenced phonics programme is helping children to establish successful early reading skills from the very start of Reception.’…

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‘The range of enrichment activities the school provides is excellent and contributes a great deal to pupils’ learning’…

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‘The multi-academy trust has provided teachers with detailed suggestions for how to adapt every aspect of the curriculum.’…

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‘Pupils feel very safe in school because of the school’s rigorous approach to keeping them safe’…

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‘Pupils are happy and they feel safe.’…

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‘From the earliest stages in Reception, adults skilfully support pupils to explain their mathematical thinking.’…

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‘Teachers use
rigorous assessments to make sure that all pupils make good progress.’…

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‘Leaders have embedded a carefully sequenced, knowledge-rich curriculum from the early years through to Year 6.’…

OFSTED comments