The ethos of Forest School is based on a fundamental respect for children and young people and for their capacity to instigate, test and maintain curiosity in the world around them. It believes in children's right to play; the right to access the outdoors (and in particular a woodland environment); the right to access risk and the vibrant reality of the natural world; and the right to experience a healthy range of emotions, through all the challenges of social interaction, to build a resilience that will enable continued and creative engagement with their peers and their potential.
Forest School is based more on the process of learning. This means that genuine Forest School practice steps boldly out of the shadow and limitation of 'planned activities' and ventures collaboratively into the realms of the unplanned, unexpected and ultimately unlimited. Children and young people are given encouragement to direct their own learning - this often requires catalysing on the part of the Forest School leader either through stimulating play in the outdoors or through 'scaffolding' a child's learning, but mostly through simply observing how children are in the outdoors.
Significantly, and on many levels, a woodland environment is central in supporting this very dynamic approach to learning: the passage of time, from the changing of the seasons, to the contemplation of an ancient tree; the dynamic nature of an outdoor environment - an infinite source of smells, textures, sounds and tastes; a range of visual stimuli from near to far, high to low, very big to very small; and the infinite layers of historical, cultural, spiritual and mythological significance that speak of our deep relationship with trees and woodland through the ages.
Forest Schooling leads to:
- Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
- Improved social skills
- The development of language and communication skills
- Improved physical motor skills
- Improved motivation and concentration
- Increased knowledge and understanding of the environment
High House employs a trained forest school teacher, Jessica Mason. Jessica ensures the children reach their full potential and that they are able to use the wooded area and pond to their full potential. The children are able to climb across the ditch, scale the hill, use the rope bridge, go pond dipping and learn how to light and manage a bonfire. The learning possibilities are endless and the magical qualities of the area are evident.
Children will risk assess with their teacher and individually, as they balance over the bridge or avoid the nettles. Sometimes children may fall, have a trip or a bump but this is part of learning. We will not take all risks away from the children as risky play is an essential part of growing up. The risks of water and fire are however of paramount importance, and our staff ratios are excellent when visiting the Forest Garden.