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Thread: Forest Schools

  1. #1

    Default Forest Schools

    Hi,

    I am investigating the possibility of using the Forest School system within the programme of activities my organisation provides. Releasing Potential is a charity which teaches long term outdoor education to excluded young people. Is the Forest School system any good, waste of time or is there a better alternative?

    I would welcome any knowledge or wisdom.

    Buzz

  2. #2
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    Not sure what your organisation is but sounds like its not an traditional educational one (i.e. a conventional school).

    My experience of forest schools comes from the forest side as we are in the process of identifying new woodlands within Glasgow for forest schools.

    I have had experience of how they work from Glasgow and my previous job for a woodland charity I would whole heartedly support them.

    They are a wonderful way for getting any children, and yes mainly excluded ones, out into their local environments.

    The majority of the ones i know of are via conventional schools / education centers which use the woodlands as an outdoor classroom. Most find that the lessons do not have to be specifically about the outdoors and can fit in with a range of curriculum areas. The ones in Glasgow tend to be used once a week by each class in the participating schools.

    Our forest schools are run in conjunction with council wildlife rangers and Forestry Commission rangers. I would strongly suggest you contact your local council (parks/woodlands and education departments) and Forestry Commission office to inquire about current forest schools and what can be done about using an existing site or setting up a new one. Forest schools are designed to allow open fires and woodland crafts as part of the educational experience.

    As I say I am no expert but I would say that forest schools are certainly worth it.

    I am sure you have it already but here is the main website:

    http://www.forestschools.com/

    Good luck with setting something up as it is well worth it judging by the kids reactions.

    Pete
    Lakeland Pete


  3. #3
    monkey_pork's Avatar
    monkey_pork is offline a wind age, a wolf age - before the world goes headlong Super Moderator
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    This is part of what Mrs M_P does for a job, and from talking to her about it, I'd entirely support what Lakeland Pete has said (which is handy, as it saves me some typing).

  4. #4
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    Default Forest Schools.

    Just wanted to pass on what I have heard about Forest Schools.

    Although I have no direct involvement in this Programme I have looked into it over the last year and spoken to people who have been through the training. From what I can gather the Idea originated in Sweden around 60 years ago and spread throughout Scandinavia, where it is now an accepted and integrated part of the curriculum.

    The basic principle is to get children into a natural environment to learn.
    It works, there is no denying that. I have been delivering Environmental Education for over 15 yrs and have incorporated other areas of the curriculum (Maths, English etc) into an outdoor setting. (Just not through Forest Schools, I hadn’t heard of it till last year) The children that respond best are often the ones that the Teacher has pointed out at the start of the session as a trouble maker/not likely to cope. Just being outdoors is often enough and the feeling they are not under pressure to conform allows them the space to develop and learn on their own terms.

    The Forest Schools franchise in this country, from what I have heard(so take it as that), has largely been taken up by one person who has formalised training and come up with a ‘qualification’ accredited through a college at NVQ level 3. I believe the college has found difficulty in getting through the accreditations (with some people waiting over 6 months for theirs to come through).
    The training seems to have been largely designed for teachers who want to take their classes out, but has been taken up to a great extent by Ranger Services (particularly those who work for the Forestry Commission) I understand that the bulk of the training goes over the process of learning rather than an understanding of the Environment/being outdoors.

    As a path to showing a formal understanding of the principles behind Education I think it is a good Idea, but I have some doubts about whether (in its current form) it is the Standard to aim for.
    As a base level it is fine, but training seems to come at a high cost (not as much of an Issue if your Employer pays)
    There are other options, but it is a question of what Employers/insurance companies/other agencies recognise as a formal qualification. I fear this has been the driving force behind Forest Schools, getting ahead of the game to be the ‘Industry Standard’.

    As Pete suggests if they already operate in the area see if you can go along and sit in on a session or go along to one of the taster sessions. Local colleges may offer an alternative so it would be worth contacting them as well.

    Like I said I have no direct personal experience of this Scheme so my comments can be easily discarded.

    'There is no wealth but life itself.'

  5. #5
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    I have had quite a few dealings with the Forest Schools. Where abouts are you in the country, as I may know a friendly face that you can talk with.

    Another option would be to talk to the guys at Frontiers. Dave and John are top blokes and will probably be able to give you some ideas. They aren't forest schools as such, but I think that you will find that they are singing from the same page as you are.

    Hope that helps
    Rob
    Wilderness 1-2-1
    Exotac - Waterproof your fire

  6. #6

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    Hi Buzz,


    Have you found what you were looking for regarding Forest Schools?

  7. #7
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    our PRUs in doncaster have used the forest schools and found our most difficult kids responded well to it but it became a bit expensive. hopefully we will go basck to it in the future
    nature is m X-box

  8. #8

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    Hi there,

    It can be expensive as it is a proffessional field, plus, depending on the project type, all the associated costs can build up.

    It is a real shame cost has gotten in the way of this wonderful opportunity for the kids. Currently (and touch wood it stays that way) the messages I am getting is that they are willing to pay and that it is really not a problem.

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