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Home Education FAQs

We've created some Q&As to give you a better idea of what our Home Education groups are all about. If we haven't answered your question, or you'd like to go ahead and book, please email hello@swoutdoorsgroup.co.uk.
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?

We have children aged between 6-13 years old. (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 6-13 years 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 have children from all backgrounds and with a range of needs attending our groups. The best thing to do is email us with as much information as you can give, and then we can have a chat with you about how your child might do in our groups.

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?

Exeter

Family sessions (ages 1-6 with adult accompanying): Fridays, 9.30am-12pm.

Thursdays (for 8-13 year olds): full days only (9am-3.30pm).

Fridays (for 6-13 year olds): morning (9am-12pm), afternoon (12.30pm-3.30pm) or full day (9am-3.30pm).

Exmouth

Mondays (for 6-13 year olds): morning (9am-12pm), afternoon (12.30pm-3.30pm) or full day (9am-3.30pm)

Tuesdays (for 8-13 year olds): full days only (9am-3.30pm).

Okehampton

Wednesdays (for 6-13 year olds): 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 8.
Okehampton: Wednesday, up to 20.
Exeter: Thursday, up to 12; 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.

Autumn Term 2019:

Autumn 1: Monday 2nd September – Friday 18th October

Half Term: Monday 21st – Friday 25th October (no sessions this week)

Autumn 2: Monday 28th October – Thursday 19th December (please note we are finishing a day early as we have a Staff Development Day).

Spring Term 2020:

Spring 1: Monday 6th January – Friday 14th February

Half Term: Monday 17th – Friday 21st February (no sessions this week)

Spring 2: Monday 24th February – Thursday 26th March (please note we are finishing a day early as we have a Staff Development Day).

Summer Term 2020:

Summer 1: Tuesday 14th April – Friday 22nd May

Half Term: Monday 24th – Friday 29th May (no sessions this week)

Summer 2: Monday 1st June – Thursday 23rd 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 6-12  and 11-16 year olds 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 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 hello@swoutdoorsgroup.co.uk 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?
Once a child’s place has been confirmed (an email will be sent by the Company confirming the reservation of a place for the days/sessions requested) the parent is expected to pay for all sessions scheduled, whether or not the child actually attends.
Each child’s place will be carried forward each term until a parent gives notice of their intent to cancel the placement. Two weeks notice in writing (email is sufficient) is required to cancel a child’s place, be this before the sessions start or after a child has started attending. The parent is liable to pay for all sessions booked in the two week notice period.
In the event of a cancellation due to circumstances outside our control (eg bad weather), a refund will not be provided, however an effort will be made to find alternative dates or sessions for participants to attend. No guarantee of availability for alternative sessions is given.
In the event of a cancellation due to circumstances within our control a refund will be given.
How do I book?

Please email hello@swoutdoorsgroup.co.uk 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.

You can find out more about the Tax Free Childcare scheme and see if you are eligible here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/reduce-school-holidays-stress-with-help-for-childcare-costs
What do our home-edders think about Forest School? 

We have some parent stories coming soon but also asked the children what they think:

‘You can make things like bows and arrows, dens and everyone gets along very well.’
‘We learn lots about wildlife and how the squirrels like to eat my lunchbox.’
‘Chris teaches us lessons about learning in a team and he’s funny.’
Read more

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/

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