There is a wonderful, supportive home educating community in Devon. We wanted to give this community an opportunity to get together each week and inspire their children to learn outdoors, following the Forest School ethos. Our groups aren’t heavily structured or formulaic but they do offer children the chance to get outside, use their imaginations and learn about working together in groups. We hope the groups offer variety, inspiration and friendship – plus fun and fresh air – for families home educating their children in Devon.
How old does my child need to be to attend your Home Education groups?
Children can attend from the September after their 5th birthday, depending on which day you are interested in. (The upper age limit is dependent on the child and whether they would enjoy and gain skills from spending time with younger children).
We also have a Home Education family group on Friday mornings at our Exeter site, for 1-6 year olds, which families can come to.
Do children need to be accompanied by an adult?
You can drop off children at all our groups for children aged 5 years and over (from the September after their 5th birthday) in Exeter, Exmouth and Okehampton.
Children need to be accompanied at the family sessions on Friday mornings in Exeter.
What if my child has specific needs?
We run a number of different home education groups which aim to provide children with an environment in which they are free to be themselves, meet new friends and socialise whilst engaging in fun forest school activities. We aim to be as inclusive as possible, and strive to provide all children with the right to engage in a session that promotes success and happiness through exploration and play. If your child struggles socially, emotionally or behaviourally and requires a level of supervision beyond typical, then please include all relevant information so we can do all we can to allocate them a place within the most suitable group.
What should my children bring with them?
They will need a packed lunch and a bottle of water or juice.
The right clothing is very important at Forest School, especially in winter. They will need:
- 3 x pairs of warm socks, plus spares
- Wellies and a spare pair of shoes
- Warm trousers, plus spare pair
- 3 to 4 layers of t-shirts, jumpers and waterproof coat, plus spares
- Hat, gloves and scarf.
In summer, a good set of outdoor clothes will suffice, with some spares in case things get muddy!
What do children do at the groups?
It’s difficult to answer this in a simple way because it will depend on the site they are attending, who the leader is and what the group is like.
Our aim is to provide a fun, safe and innovative learning experience, with special attention paid to building relationships and confidence in the children.
It may be that a particular group will spend a term or two working solidly on team-building, laying the foundations to move on to more intricate projects.
Another group might have a long term project, for example building a tree house.
We also encourage leadership by having a student forest school leader who chooses activities and is responsible for organising the group for part of the session.
What days do you run your Home Education groups?
Family sessions (ages 1-6 with adult accompanying): Fridays, 9.30am-12pm.
Thursdays (for 9 year olds upwards): full days only (9am-3.30pm).
Fridays (for 5 year olds upwards): morning (9am-12pm), afternoon (12.30pm-3.30pm) or full day (9am-3.30pm).
Mondays (for 5 year olds upwards): morning (9am-12pm), afternoon (12.30pm-3.30pm) or full day (9am-3.30pm)
Tuesdays (for 10 year olds upwards): full days only (9am-3.30pm).
Wednesdays (for 5 year olds upwards): morning (9am-12pm), afternoon (12.30pm-3.30pm) or full day (9am-3.30pm)
Who leads the groups and what are their qualifications?
Sessions are run by fully trained and experienced Forest School Practitioners who have gained accredited certification in Forest School Leadership. They are also qualified first aiders and have many years experience working with children. All our staff are DBS checked. You can find out more about our staff on our Meet the team page. Look out for Chris who runs Exeter, Nick in Exmouth and Debbie in Okehampton..
What’s the minimum and maximum number you have in a group?
Our attendee capacity varies, depending upon the session, never exceeding a 1-10 ratio.
Exmouth: Monday, up to 20; Tuesday, up to 12.
Okehampton: Wednesday, up to 12.
Exeter: Thursday, up to 20; Friday, up to 20.
Do you offer free taster sessions?
Yes. If there is space in a group, we would love you to come and try us out before you commit.
What are the term dates?
We work to the Devon County Council term dates with occasional changes which will be detailed here.
**Please Note that we are still finalising plans for the restarting of our Home Education Groups in line with government guidance on provision in regards to the Covid-19 pandemic. We will update this as soon as we have a confirmed start date**
Autumn Term 2020:
Autumn 1: Monday 7th September – Friday 23rd October
Half Term: Monday 26th – Friday 30th October (no sessions this week)
Autumn 2: Monday 2nd November – Thursday 17th December (please note we are finishing a day early as we have a Staff Development Day).
Spring Term 2020:
Spring 1: Monday 4th January – Friday 12th February
Half Term: Monday 15th – Friday 19th February (no sessions this week)
Spring 2: Monday 22nd February – Wednesday 31st March (please note we are finishing two days early as we have a Staff Development Day and due to the Easter bank holiday).
Summer Term 2020:
Summer 1: Tuesday 20th April – Friday 28th May
Half Term: Monday 31st May – Friday 4th June (no sessions this week)
Summer 2: Monday 7th June – Thursday 22nd July (please note we are finishing a day early as we have a Staff Development Day).
What are the prices?
Family sessions at Exeter are £8 per family, per session – payment to be made in full for a half term at the time of booking.
Sessions for children attending by themselves cost £15 for half day provision and £30 for full day provision. We offer a 10% sibling discount as well as a 10% ‘double day’ discount for those booking onto two days, this is in addition to the sibling discount.
We are set up to receive payment via a number of childcare voucher schemes (Edenred, Kiddivouchers, Care-4, Sodexo, Computershare, Busybees, MyBenefitsBundle, Apple Childcare, Reward Gateway and Enjoy Benefits), as well as the new government scheme – Tax Free Childcare. https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/
We are also pleased to say that parents claiming Working Tax Credits may be eligible to claim back some of the costs under the childcare element of Working Tax Credit. To do so, you will need to use the Ofsted registration number RP555172 and the category ‘registered club’. Costs needs to be paid directly as normal when invoiced but, if eligible, you will be reimbursed a set proportion via Tax Credits. You can find more here: https://www.gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs
Please note that you can only use these these schemes to pay for sessions your child attends without you.
Do I need to book termly?
Yes please. Please get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what sessions you are interested in and we will liaise with the site manager to see if there is availability. Once a child’s place has been confirmed by email, parents are be invoiced on a monthly basis and a registration form will be sorted at the first session.
Exeter’s Friday morning family sessions need to be booked in advance using our online booking system. Payment is made in full at the time of booking and places are allocated on a first come, first served basis.
What’s your Payment Policy?
How do I book?
Please email email@example.com to find out what places we have available and what session/s would suit your child best. Once a child’s place has been confirmed by email, parents will be invoiced on a monthly basis and a registration form will be sorted at the first session.
Do you accept childcare vouchers?
We are set up to receive payment via a number of childcare voucher schemes (Edenred, Kiddivouchers, Care-4, Sodexo, Computershare and Busybees), as well as the new government scheme – Tax Free Childcare. https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/ Please note that you can only use these these schemes to pay for sessions your child attends without you.
What do our home-edders think about Forest School?
We have some parent stories coming soon but also asked the children what they think:
If you’d like to read more about our Home Education groups, take a look at our blogs:
How our Home Education groups make a difference https://www.outdoorsgroup.co.uk/blog/10045/
Home Education in the great outdoors https://www.outdoorsgroup.co.uk/blog/home-education-great-outdoors/