We have always believed at Lowther Endowed School that our local environment is an extension of our classroom. We work hard to bring the 'outdoors' in whenever we can and use our local environment to develop and foster a love of outdoors for all our children across subjects.
We are exceptionally lucky to live and go to school in such a beautiful environment. We are 'space rich' and have a large playing field adjacent to our school playground, tennis courts to use across the road and our own wooded area full of trees and shrubs accessible from the back of the classrooms. This area is open every day for learning and learning through play too.
Last year, we decided to develop a section of our under used playing field into our own 'forest school' area. This will take time, but we have already had the area fenced off, allowing it to grow more wild and many new shrubs and trees have been planted by the children. Emma Daley, one of our experienced members of staff, has undertaken accredited forest school training. She is leading the teaching of all the children in six weekly blocks. Each unit is tailored towards the age of the children and as the learning progresses, so will the skills to be taught. Once the safety aspects and skills are embedded, then the learning will be led by the children. The younger children in Hedgehogs have mainly used the wooded area behind their classroom. Otters in Years 2, 3 and 4 focused on using the new fenced forest school area, learning to build shelters, do woodland art and learn about fire safety and cooking on the open fire. The older children in Badgers are using the woodland area in Hackthorpe woods as their basis, including learning to build shelters. All of this builds on the skills the children picked up working with Branch Out on 2 outdoor days last year. Now we can do this in school, sessions can be more frequent.
As well as building an understanding of our own environment and working in harmony with nature, forest school work helps children to regulate their own emotions, learn to problem solve and learn to take risks safely. It also helps children to learn to work together - a vital life skill. We are very grateful to Emma and all the work she puts in to make this a success, along with the teaching staff and volunteers who come in and help.