PUPILS at a school in South Tyneside are being encouraged to “drive their own learning” by holding outdoor lessons in its ‘Forest School’ area.
Children at Clervaux Nursery School, in Clervaux Terrace, Jarrow, have one three-hour session a week in the woodland environment, with activities involved including den building, exploring and observing nature and seasonal changes, using tools and building campfires.
The pupils are also responsible for carrying out a risk assessment on the area they are going to use at the beginning of each session.
The outdoor lessons are intended to encourage the children to become “resilient, confident, creative and independent learners”, and the school already has two Forest School-trained members of staff.
Headteacher Michelle Dixon said: “The Forest School Approach is about children having regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a natural environment with trees.
“The approach is child-centred, and focuses on the ever-changing outdoor environment and the infinite opportunities it offers.
Our children attend Forest School regularly, and are encouraged to become resilient, confident, creative and independent learners
“Children are responsible for driving their own learning, and are encouraged to explore, discover and become at one with their environment.
“Our children attend Forest School regularly, and are encouraged to become resilient, confident, creative and independent learners.
“Forest School has become a huge part of our outstanding practice here at Clervaux Nursery School, and is something that we believe strongly benefits our children and families.”
The campfire is let every day, with the children able to cook a snack on it, for example hot chocolate, toasted marshmallows and hot dogs.
The school also runs sessions for the families to introduce them to Forest School, both to demonstrate what the children do in the lessons and to reassure them about all the safety procedures surrounding using tools and lighting campfires.
In December last year, an ‘In the Clervaux Night Garden’ session was held, with families attending to explore the Forest School after dark.
Over the next five years, the school hopes that all of its staff will be Forest School-trained, with staff members Bev Stephenson and Danielle Pollard currently holding the qualification, while Jacqui Westhall has begun her training.
Several other events have been held, which have been helped by funding.
Ms Dixon added: “We were fortunate enough to receive some funding from Big Local Jarrow, which we used to buy cooking utensils and a fire pit, and it also funded a Family Campfire Cookery Day, which was an enormous success.”
The school is appealing for donations of wood to use on its campfire. To donate, call 489 7358.