Forest School is an approach to learning where everyone can succeed. It originated in Scandinavia and was introduced into the UK in the 1990s. The aim is to help each child to learn in their own way, raising self-esteem and increasing self-confidence through hands-on experience in an inspirational, natural outdoor setting.
Children love to be outside. They are active, experiencing life outside the classroom, which boosts their independence and self-confidence. There is a freedom to explore using multiple senses to encourage creative and imaginative play. Learning to discuss any feeling of frustration when tackling new tasks helps to build coping strategies that can be used throughout life. Children learn about the diversity and the identification of species, and respect for the environment. Balance, co-ordination and general fitness can also be greatly enhanced through physical activity.
All girls in Cadogan House have access to the Forest School area throughout the year. Pre-Prep classes have five weekly sessions timetabled throughout the year and often have the opportunity to work with other classes to support one another and explore the woodland. Years 3 to 6 have access to the Forest School area too.
All Forest School activities take place in the newly developed ‘Tranquillity’ Woodland area which would have not have been created without the help of the Estates Team and Tranquillity Masonic Lodge.
Forest School sessions combine several elements. We start with a game which usually has an environmental or co-operative learning point. The main activity supports objectives from across the curriculum in innovative and practical ways. Science learning is greatly enhanced, but other areas are also covered including Art, Literacy, PE, Geography, Design & Technology and Mathematics. There is also a time to reflect on the session, helping children understand their feelings and recognise their successes.
The Forest School leader is a fully trained OCN Level 3 Forest School Practitioner. As part of the training they undertake risk assessments and first aid training. Children are also encouraged to identify risks and avoid hazards through their own understanding. Mistakes are an inevitable part of the learning process and children are allowed to make these mistakes and to learn through them, with appropriate support. Learning by mistakes and meeting challenges through ‘safe and controlled’ risk-taking builds confidence.
"There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing"
The Royal Masonic School really does live up to its prospectus and its promises. My husband and I acknowledge that credit is due to our daughter for her academic achievements, but equally, it is our considered opinion that her successful bid to study Law at Oxford University was facilitated by the ethos of the School and the dedication of its Staff Parents of a pupil who joined in Year 12