As the New Year begins, it is time for those (dreaded?) New Years resolutions! Contrary to the usual trepidation, this year, I am actually very excited about what lies in store.
The excellent news is that with the adoption of the DEFRA 25 year plan, our government formally recognise the importance of giving our children more outdoor time:
“Playing and learning outside is a fundamental part of childhood, and helps children grow up healthy. Some children are lucky enough to have a family garden; others will not and it is important that we find other ways to give them better access to the great outdoors”.
About time. It certainly makes people like me very happy and even more determined to help make this happen.
In line with this and underpinned by our overarching company aims of educating others and supporting health and well-being, Cambridge Forest Schools’ resolutions for 2019 are to
- Teach education professionals how to embed Forest School and Outdoor Learning into their curriculum with high quality accredited training courses, consultation packages and group Professional Development meetings.
- Work with schools to support curriculum objectives with Forest School programmes, Outdoor Learning programmes, Curriculum Fun Days and Bushcraft Fun Days.
- Get more people outside with our short, practical skills courses open to anyone wishing to learn how to use tools and fire and enhance their well-being by spending time outdoors.
To support our aims, I urge you to consider investigating how to implement Forest School or Outdoor Learning at your setting whether it is just for a day or longer term. So where do you start? The first thing is to decide which method of learning outside the classroom works best for your setting….
Is your preference to start with Outdoor Learning? Using an outdoor ‘classroom’ and natural resources to teach planned activities that meet key curriculum objectives eg. building 3D shapes with sticks to teach maths or using the natural environment to set the scene for creative writing or poetry as part of a literacy lesson.
Or do you want to approach it from a different perspective and introduce Forest School? A long term programme of holistic, child-led learning where children take supported risk on their own terms, learn about their environment through sessions led by a Level 3 trained Forest School Leader.
These two different methods of learning outdoors are at opposite ends of a continuum. Both add demonstrable value to education and help tackle the important issue of addressing young people’s mental health and well-being. However you decide to implement spending more time outside and wherever on that continuum you work, it is an incredibly positive step forward.
The impact of Cambridge Forest Schools’ work with children over the past 6 years delivering Forest School and Outdoor Learning sessions in primary schools is proven to add value as recognised by Ofsted
“Pupils engage positively with outdoor learning, working together to build dens, make camp fires and explore the outside space. As a result, pupils develop strong friendships, which inspectors observed in the playground, in lessons and when speaking with pupils.”
Fen Ditton Primary Ofsted report 2018
So, as one of your aims for 2019, why don’t you give us a call and we’ll help you work out a plan to implement learning outside the classroom. This could be investment in your Professional Development through training as a Forest School Leader or Outdoor Learning practitioner, coming on a practical skills short course. or trying a Curriculum Fun Day or Bushcraft Fun Day In. It’s remarkably rewarding working outdoors, whether cooking Tudor oatcakes on the fire or discussing medieval herbal medicines when you can see the positive impact on the children AND know you are working in accordance with government recommendations.