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CASE STUDY: Clyst St Mary Primary School

I have been leading sessions here for a while and have now started on my 3rd year. The whole school enjoys forest school in some context throughout the year. Reception, Year 1, Year 3 and Year 5 each have a half-day of activities in June. While Year 2, Year 4 and Year 6 have a block of sessions. I attend each week for a morning with the year group – 5 weeks in total – and then we complete the block with a whole day in Exmouth Forest School.

It is amazing to see the development of the children over this time. Having just finished with Year 6, who I began with in Year 4. We are hoping that the positive experiences of Forest School throughout their school time will give them memories to cherish and encourage them as they enter secondary school. Together we made a mud kitchen, which every forest school session now enjoys the freedom of play with. We have built many a den, and progressed through different tool working skills – carpenters saw, hammer, bow saw, bit and brace drill, axe and knife. Our understanding of fire lighting and fire safety has grown and we have enjoyed hot chocolates, soup, bread, marshmallows, sugared apples, crumble, elderflower fritters and sausages cooked outdoors.

As a leader I am looking forward to seeing the other year groups continue to progress and mature through the school, and to see how they work better together as a class with the aid of their forest school moments.

Author: Melinda Burge, School Liason and Forest School Practitioner, The Outdoors Group

As a school we eagerly embarked on our Forest School journey under the excellent guidance and support of Melinda three years ago. We ensure that every year group gets to experience all that the well-tailored sessions have to offer. Melinda liaises closely with the teaching staff to ensure that the activities planned meet the needs of each unique class and if she can in any way link the activities to their current topic. The children are always excited when it’s their turn and we love the continuity from repeating our annual programme. This means that all the children get to develop their skills and learn new ones to add to their life skills repertoire. The block sessions that culminate in the whole day trip are a fantastic way of developing our children to be resilient, to take risks, to work as a team and to most of all go out of their comfort zone. Our Year 6 children regularly mention their memories of forest school during their leaver’s speeches.

Mrs Allen, Teacher, Clyst St Mary Primary

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