The Forest School Approach
Work in the Outdoor Classroom is based on the Forest School ethos of using a long term programme to raise self-esteem and emotional intelligence through developing the child’s interpersonal (how we interact with others, team work etc) and intrapersonal skills (self motivation, self control, awareness of one’s feelings and how they affect our progression through life) – (links to Every Child Matters). Our Outdoor Classroom programme is run throughout the year with all 14 classes experiencing outdoor sessions on a regular fortnightly basis for either an entire morning or afternoon.
When to bring your wellies
It is important that you bring your wellies or boots for outdoor classroom – other footwear will not suffice for winter or damp weather and wellies are essential to avoid treading mud into school. When the weather is colder please bring a coat and also hats, scarves and gloves to add extra warmth. In the warm weather please provide a sunhat and, if appropriate, apply the ‘once-a-day’ sunscreen before school. Make sure all items of clothing are labelled.
Each term, outdoor classroom dates for the school are issued on SchoolPing and are also available to download via the ‘Letters Home’ tab under ‘News and Events’. Please put them in your calendar. You will receive a reminder text the day before your child’s outdoor classroom session. Please note, on occasions these dates may change but you would receive a text message if this was to occur.
- Self Esteem – We aim to raise the children’s self esteem by providing challenging but achievable tasks with the focus being on the process rather than the product. Working in the outdoors has a more physical aspect, which is the preferred learning style of Kinaesthetic learners, something that is not always available when working indoors. Some activities also develop children’s Thinking Skills, as part of our whole school approach.
- Interpersonal Skills – The activities that take place in the outdoor classroom have a focus on team-work, be it whole class, small group or paired work. The pupils work with children outside of their regular friendship groups to encourage understanding and acceptance of all class members and preparation for life beyond school – (links to Every Child Matters)
- Intrapersonal Skills – At the end of each outdoor session the children take part in a “Reflect and Review” activity to encourage them to think about their thoughts and feelings about the session. The children who found activities a challenge will be encouraged to talk about how it made them feel when they eventually succeeded. These discussions will be taken further based on how to transfer the feelings to an “in class” situation when they feel work is too hard, to encourage them to “have a go”- (links to S.E.A.L.)
- Health – The concept of developing an outdoor classroom at Crowlees School was born out of a target for the Kirklees Healthy School Standard. It was felt that the children would benefit from working outdoors in the fresh air and would develop their physical needs as well as their academic needs.
- The Outdoor Classroom aims to raise environmental awareness among the pupils as well as teach them about conservation and sustainability.
- Taking responsibility for our own environment has strong links with PSHE and Citizenship and Every Child Matters as well as Sustainable Schools and Eco Schools.
- The Outdoor Classroom also aims to encourage understanding about the different cultures that make up our community (links with PSHE and Citizenship and Every Child Matters)
- National Curriculum Links All the activities that take place in the Outdoor Classroom can be linked to the National Curriculum and it is hoped that with it’s multi sensory approach that they will enjoy and learn from the work done outdoors. – (Links to Excellence and Enjoyment in the Curriculum)
- Higher Self Esteem – Higher Academic Attainment The main focus of each session is developing the personal skills mentioned above rather than academic attainment. However by raising a child’s self esteem you are giving them the self-belief that they can achieve in other circumstances which, in turn will lead to higher academic attainment. The work done in the Outdoor Classroom aims to equip our pupils with some of the “life skills” that will enable each child to enjoy and achieve throughout their lives as responsible citizens.(Links to Every Child Matters)
- Improving Writing – Whole School Focus In line with the whole school focus of improving writing each session will include “explore and share” time where children report back in Standard English on their exploration time in pairs and individually to the class as “News Reporters”. Working in the outdoors also stimulates children’s imaginations giving them something to talk about and encourages talk at home with parents too. (Links to Excellence and Enjoyment in the Curriculum)