Forest School at Hurst Lodge
Forest School and Learning Outside the Classroom are an integral part of school life at Hurst Lodge. Everyone up to sixteen will experience Forest School teaching and older students have workshop days. We use Forest School as an enhancement to the curriculum, teaching young people skills and dispositions that can be translated into the classroom and beyond.
Our Forest School and Learning Outside the Classroom activities help to develop many personal qualities, including raising independence and resilience, increasing self-esteem and confidence, encouraging team building and managed risk taking, developing leadership skills and improving decision making. Current research by leading universities suggests also that there is a strong correlation between the types of activities we do at Forest School and a person’s mental well-being, both as a child and in later life. At Forest School especially, there is an emphasis on oral and practical work. In LOtC sessions, practical activities may stand alone or be used later to support classroom based learning.
To encourage students to do these things, they will take part in a wide variety of activities, some child initiated and some adult led but all with a wide variety of learning outcomes. The range of activities includes den building, tree climbing, sustainability teaching, woodland management, whittling, fire lighting, bug hunting and much more. In our allotment area, pupils identify and implement planting schemes and take care of our poultry. Issues of food quality and sustainability are raised and discussed. We aim to take students out all year round whatever the weather and are firm believers in the phrase, ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.’ We therefore ask that pupils are provided with adequate clothing for outdoor working.
Time in the woods is a chance for the children to explore freely, find their voice and feel relaxed in the natural environment. We use the school fence and ribbons to mark the boundaries to keep pupils safe and have simple rules for them to follow, but otherwise they are able to find their own space where they can find their place in nature
Whole-day Forest School sessions are also scheduled, allowing pupils to work in peer groups and across ages to complete tasks and learn skills which they are able to take out into the wider world. These are important community events which support our all-through ethos.