What could be better than warming your hands on an open fire and sipping hot chocolate after a busy day of leaf clearing and bug hunting?
Primary students at Fairmead have been making great use of their new Forest School classroom, which arrived this autumn term after plans were approved by Somerset County Council earlier in the year.
Parents who received a free copy of our Fairmead School Calendar will have seen the fantastic photograph of the Forest School classroom, which some students have dubbed ‘the Hobbit Hut’ or ‘Hagrid’s Hut’. The idea for the this fantastic new facility came from Primary teacher Kerri Flynn, who is trained Forest School Practitioner. Kerri explained:
‘I think it is very important for our students to develop independence and social skills and Forest School really encourages children to work together. I have seen that when children are outside they become far more confident because they are able to use their whole body. They gain a lot from being active in a natural environment and it seems to increase their awareness of each other; they start to play better together’.
As the weather turns chillier, it can be hard for students to keep going with their activities without a little break or the anticipation of a reward at the end of it, and that is where the Forest School classroom is proving to be a real asset. Kerri commented:
‘We have wooden benches inside that create a circular seating area and a fire pit in the middle. Making hot chocolate for each other and cooking with fire helps the children to be aware of the importance of keeping themselves and others safe. Sitting in a circle encourages them to listen to each and take turns when talking’.
Forest School began in the UK following a visit to Denmark by Bridgewater College in 1995. In the book ‘Forest School for All’, Editor Sara Knight states the premise that repeatedly working outdoors will have a positive effect on students ‘potential dispositions for learning or for personal change’ (Knight (ed), Sage, London 2011: p2). More research is needed in this interesting area of education, but to that end Kerri Flynn is adhering to the Forest School key elements, such as going outside in all weathers, on a regular basis, with students taking the initiative and learning to take manageable risks. So far it has been a big hit with Fairmead’s Primary students. Toby Jones commented:
‘In the Forest School classroom I like the fire pit, but we are not allowed to light it by ourselves. I like having hot chocolate and pizzas in there. We can store our outdoors stuff inside and from the outside it looks wonderful”.