Move over Ray Mears and watch out Bear Grylls - the reception class of Whyteleafe School are after your jobs, because they are are moving out of the classroom and into the forest.
Whyteleafe’s Forest School project sees pupils leave the classroom on a regular basis and go into the school grounds for lessons in such long overlooked skills as tree climbing and fire making, in a carefully regulated supervised environment, as part of a wider self-esteem and confidence building exercise.
After-school clubs manager Lorna Smith, who initiated the project last summer, said it was proving hugely popular. “It’s a great leveller as so few of the children have experienced anything like this before,” she explained.
“That means some of the children who may struggle in other areas are starting from the same position as their more confident and successful classmates, so they learn at the same pace, and it’s a new opportunity to shine.
"Once a week, for six weeks, teams of 15 children to into the woods for lessons, taking all the equipment with them. Even that’s a lesson in itself, teaching them about teamwork and responsibility. They’re so busy having fun that they don’t realise they’re learning, but it’s carefully structured so that they are.”
Assistant head teacher Chris Jowett tried out the experience for himself, and was hugely impressed. “I can’t wait to be involved again,” he said afterwards. “It was huge fun, and it was wonderful to see the children so absorbed in an activity which adds so much to our Early Years curriculum. I really hope we can find a way to expand it for other years in the school to enjoy it too.”
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