Dover College

Forest School

Forest School

Pupils in the Early Years Foundation Stage upwards take part in weekly lessons outdoors.

Although Forest School may be a relatively new idea to some parents, we have been running outdoor lessons for several years. The idea behind the lessons is that pupils go out into the school’s forest and Discovery Garden to learn about the environment in a practical way. From learning about the different types of trees and plants to creating mud pies and using tools to sculpt items out of natural materials there is plenty for students to try.

Forest School Leader, Clare Caskie, greatly enjoys teaching the pupils:

“Forest School is all about getting closer to nature and learning about the great outdoors and the environment. It is based on a Scandinavian way of learning outside. We have implemented outdoor learning in our Discovery Garden, which has been developed over the last eight years. Each week we run a session which involves problem solving, getting creative and making sculptures and crafts. At the end of the session we sometimes create a big fire and toast marshmallows and make hot chocolate and talk about what we learned.”

At Forest School pupils engage in lots of activities throughout each lesson, with no two classes being the same. For example:

  • Learning about the different tools you can use and how to make things safely. We recently made wooden owls using only natural materials and a bow saw
  • Learning how to identify plants and choose different types of wood for crafts
  • Creating a greenhouse out of recycled bottles

It’s not just about getting muddy and running around at Forest School, with important lessons taught in each class.

Clare sees that Forest School encourages pupils to learn to share and work as a team:

“The great thing about Forest School is that there is never any conflict, not even with the younger ones running about. The pupils are actually a lot calmer and more responsive to risk taking. They can explore their limits by using the wooden palettes to climb up or making a rope bridge or ladder. One pupil even thanked me for helping her conquer her fear of heights! We always encourage problem solving and seeing how they tackle something new and create something from scratch.”