33 teachers from four schools with two practitioners at the edge of the Pennines on a cold day in February.
This was the culmination of several days of planning, resourcing, designing and discussions. Our aim was to show how a Forest School approach to outdoor provision could be utilised by schools and what benefits this might bring in terms of learning and development to their children.
In many ways an easy task but also incredibly difficult. Easy when you know how, when this is how you make your living, when you are trained and experienced at working with children in the outdoors. Difficult because there is so much to say and as with Forest Schools provision, there is no “one voice” in which to say it.
As practitioners it is easy for us to forget that not everyone sees the benefits of what can be done outside or that the barriers are surmountable if there is a will to overcome them. Demonstrating what is possible became the focus of the day.
The day was structured around a carousel of activities. Lisa and I led separate groups with the third being self managed in the cozy heated bell tent. Groups were made up of individuals from different schools so that information and experience could be readily shared across the school cluster group. Each group had a workbook in which to record their observations, feedback and ideas. These books will then be used to produce a report which will identify the key themes and help planning in taking their outdoor provision forward.
Setting up the location was very time consuming, apart from the aforementioned “glamping” tent we had a fire circle with tarp cover, a smaller more “rustic” circle in the wooded area, resource tables with craft items, books and an assortment of animal sign (bones, horns and pooh). There were a selection of seating options from log rounds to benches made on a shave horse, not to mention the “Great British Mud Pie Bake off” in the parachute covered geodesic dome!
We could have stood in the wind and the cold espousing Forest School ethos, demonstrating our knowledge (or otherwise) on the subject but I always feel that Forest Schools needs to be experienced.
So 33 teachers from four schools with two practitioners at the edge of the Pennines on a cold day in February laughed, talked, had fun, shivered together and between us came up with one or two ideas…
But that will be another story.