One of the best ways to continue professional development as a Forest schools practitioner is to work with different groups in different settings or, if you are luckily enough, step into someone else’s shoes for a day. I had the opportunity to do just that on Wednesday at St Mary’s RC Primary school in Dukinfield.
I had been asked to stand in for a day at the school by Andy Hennel who works as a Forest schools practitioner alongside trained practitioners amongst the teaching staff while Andy was on holiday.
The school has recently been rebuilt and part of its new vision was to make use of its wooded area. The day involved working with years 3, 5 and 6 followed by an after school bushcraft club for year 4. I ran sessions on bow saw use, sheath knife, tree identification and for the bushcraft club, atl atl.
The staff involved were very enthusiastic about Forest schools and the school is making use of committed parent helpers in the delivery of the provision.
It was a fantastic opportunity to see Forest schools being delivered in a school setting with the aim to allow all of the children the opportunity to benefit. The children themselves were very enthusiastic and motivated by the activities and all of the groups were a pleasure to work with.
Forest schools provision across a whole school is bound to take on a curriculum focus as well as being an approach for the development of individuals. While the ethos of Forest schools shies away from notions of school curriculum, I do believe that schools can have their cake and eat it as long as they do as St Mary’s have done and put the ethos at the core of their provision.
A most enjoyable day in someone else’s shoes.