Forest School is an educational concept that came to the UK in the 1990s from Scandinavia. It offers learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in natural environments.
Since then The Wildlife Trust BCN in Bedfordshire has felt strongly that this model of engaging and inspiring people about the natural world is an important and influential tool. Achievable activities are supported, individuals self-esteem and confidence is nurtured, helping to make connections with nature that can improve health and wellbeing.
Wildlife and Communities Officer Sarah Cowling has nearly finished her level 3 qualification and has been working with a group of boys from Challney Secondary School Dunstable at Blows Downs nature reserve. The boys relished the outdoor conservation tasks, which boosted their self- esteem. Sarah is now working with Ashton St Peters School in Dunstable. Reception age children are taking part in a 6 week program using tools and eventually cooking over an open fire. The school was able to pay for the session through their Church Association School fund. Over the winter Sarah will also be gauging interest about Forest School provision from schools, colleges and community organisations.
We received a wonderful message from Ashton St Peters Primary School: “Thank you for coming to Ashton St Peters Primary School. Thank you for helping us to find all the different plants and insects on our school field. It really surprised us how many bugs and plants that we could find. I really liked collecting bugs and plants in the pots. Thank you for the story you told us about the Caterpillar that turned into a Butterfly. It was very funny! Thank you for the plant and bug patrol groups. Thank you for making our learning fun and for teaching us about natural and man-made things in our area. Please come back again soon!”
Sarah will also be promoting and taking bookings for our new ‘Living in the Landscape, tiny creatures of the big hills’ program. Sarah and supply teacher Jane Lambourne have spent recent months trialing the program to ensure that schools are really getting what they need. Curriculum links are reinforced in a fun and creative way. The program is designed to be portable inside or outside the classroom, with the benefit of schools not having to consider the cost of transport or the head-ache of organising day trip logistics.
If you would like to receive more information about the new program or Forest School provision or need some ideas about how to fund a visit please contact our Wildlife and Communities Officer Sarah Cowling. Email Sarah.Cowling@wildlifebcn.org or call 01525 874317.