Mrs Williams is the schools forest school leader, please read below her introduction to the school:
As the Forest School Leader, I thought I would set down a little about my experience and also my vision for the Forest School provision at Ashleworth Primary School.
I trained and qualified whilst working at Swanbourne House School, Buckinghamshire where the extensive park and woodland had been largely ignored as an early years learning provision. Over my time at the school, I set up 3 sites, which were used weekly across KS1 (6 classes) and during the holidays, when I ran holiday clubs. The provision was such a success that the local authority used Swanbourne’s Forest School as an example of good practice and we were regularly visited by other schools looking to set up a similar provision. On returning to Gloucestershire I was approached by Gloucester City Farm to develop a rolling programme for dis-engaged teenagers and young adults and ran a woodland management / team building course. I have worked as a volunteer at different schools to enhance my professional development – and ‘liberate’ exciting activity ideas!
My aim is for the children to build confidence, resilience and appreciation for their surroundings, whilst learning new skills. I believe that if a new skill is to be learnt then the appropriate tool should be used. For example if whittling children should learn to use a knife safely and under close supervision. It takes time for children to be both emotionally and physical ready and able to use potentially hazardous tools and this is taken into account before I teach a new skill on a one-to-one basis.
Each session will begin and end around the fire circle. A fire will only be lit when all the children understand and behave as if a fire is in situ – i.e they must never cross the seating circle. When a fire is lit an adult will always be in attendance.
As I want the children to feel free to explore the Forest School sites, there will be inevitable scratches from brambles and stings from nettles. This is all part of building children’s resilience and independence when sourcing, say dock leaves to ease a sting. I will carry out a full risk assessment before each session and have prepared a thorough Forest School Policy document, which is available should you want to look through it.
Children will only be able attend sessions if they are dressed appropriately which means having their arms and legs covered. During the summer they will require sun screen, hat and sturdy footwear and during winter a coat, gloves and wellies. A filled water bottle (water only) should be taken by each child to the site along with any medication which will be looked after and administered by an adult.
I am passionate about Forest School and its potential for emotional, cognitive and physical development and am extremely excited to be sharing my Forest School enthusiasm with your children.
Have a look at what we get up to during our Forest school afternoons:
Forest School Sept 17